diamond geezer

 Thursday, March 11, 2021

On Sunday, walking the last stretch of route 56 past the Barbican, I spotted a bus stop that shouldn't have been there.

Two things made me suspicious.
• I'd just walked past a normal bus stop and this one was unnecessarily close.
• The bus route numbers were written on the flag rather than on separate tiles.

I looked a bit closer and grew more suspicious still.
• The bus route numbers were listed in the wrong order.
• The bus stop's name on the end of the shelter was too small.
• The spider maps in the shelter were of an unfamiliar design.
• The bus timetables didn't look right either.

Someone had decided to install a fake bus stop with a fake bus shelter on the public highway. What's more the overall appearance was convincing enough to withstand broad scrutiny from a distance. You might think that as a devoted bus aficionado you'd definitely have twigged, but this Fake Bus Stop was actually the first photo in yesterday's blogpost and nobody said a word.

I only had a hunch what was going on because I'd read the yellow notice pasted up at the previous stop. 'This bus stop is closed from 0800 on Saturday to 2100 on Sunday', it said, 'for filming'. And yes there did appear to be a lot of caravan activity down the road opposite, and a couple of gentlemen in hi-vis on the other side of the road keeping a careful eye on passers-by.

I decided what I'd stumbled upon was a prop - a very big prop which at some point was needed as the backdrop for some filming. And this made me even more impressed by the effort they'd gone to.

The posters in the bus shelter included a logo for an organisation that could have been TfL, but legally definitely wasn't. Instead it envisaged a body called 'Travel In London', strapline Transport made easy, represented by an arrow pointing across a square. Not bad I thought, I could see that making it onto a longlist for a future iteration of a metropolitan travel executive. There was also a separate logo for 'Green London' with the G envisaged as a green shoot, which again is a perfectly plausible eco-friendly sub-brand. Full marks so far.

The bus timetables on the post were superficially OK but very much not in the usual format. Too colourful by half, no alternative listing for a Sunday service and in a somewhat dated layout. More importantly, once I peered closer, the 56's timetable supposedly ran from Archway to Blackfriars which is actually what route 4 does, because a lot of identical cut-and-pasting had been going on.

The spider maps were amazing because someone had gone to an awful lot of effort to pack them full of data while ensuring they were demonstrably not of TfL's usual design. The background was too grey, the bus stop blobs too large and there wouldn't normally be a separate 'Nightbuses from Aldersgate Street' version. But the coloured lines radiating from a central map appeared to be geographically similar, proper names had been used for bus stops elsewhere and the map had a lengthy list of destinations underneath. Someone had spent hours making this.

It all went wrong if you looked too closely. The designer had accidentally switched the 56 and the 76 on the map so that the coloured lines went to the wrong destinations. None of the lettered bus stops in the Route Finder appeared on the map. Cheekily the entire Destination finder had been populated by places you can reach by bus from Stratford rather than Barbican, so was full of 25s, 69s, 158s and 473s. The underlying information was very flawed indeed, but as a backdrop to two characters chatting in a bus shelter it'd look entirely convincing.

By this point one of the gentlemen in hi-vis had wandered across the road to find out why I was taking such an interest in the bus shelter. He was perfectly amenable, I suspect because all the action was now taking place around Charterhouse Square, and confirmed that yes it was a film shoot and the bus shelter was a prop. "They're very good these art studio people", he said, and given the level of effort expended I could only agree. It was only now that I noticed the bus stop post was being supported by five metal weights with 'props' scrawled on them, and that a strip of fabric had been laid across the pavement to cover up something written underneath.

Pushed further the security guard told me that all of this was for the benefit of an Apple TV series called Embankment, not that he expected I'd be able to watch it because hardly anyone subscribes. I sadly concurred.

When I got home I used Google to uncover what 'Embankment' was all about, and discovered it was actually a code name being used by the production team, not the show's title. What's really being filmed is Slow Horses, the first novel in a spy thriller series by Mick Herron, with Gary Oldman and Kristin Scott Thomas in the leading roles. The books focus on disgraced operatives relegated to work out of a separate office called Slough House which is located on Aldersgate Street near Barbican station, hence the filming here at the weekend.

My thanks to Jeff and his aggregated webpage keeping tabs on all things Slow Horses for revealing what the hell was going on, and for including additional photos. Had I been more familiar with the area I might also have noticed that a cluster of shopfronts on Aldersgate Street had been given a makeover, becoming an off licence and a fictional Chinese restaurant, but I'm afraid I only spotted the bus stop across the road. It's probably gone back to being a dockless bike parking space since Sunday.

One moral of this story is always to keep your eyes open, like Mick's spies, because you never know what clues you might uncover in an unassuming place. The other is that global multinational companies are happy to splash the cash on making bus spider maps nobody will ever use purely for artistic reasons, whereas TfL increasingly cannot be bothered to create the real thing despite the fact the maps have a genuine purpose. Bring on the Travel In London makeover, I say, and Transport made easy.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

» my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
ian visits
blue witch
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
the ladies who bus
round the rails we go
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel
from the murky depths
exploring urban wastelands

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
Inner London toilet map
The DG Tour of Britain

read the archive
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards