30 unblogged things I did in September (contains nine additional clickable photos)
Fri 1: "Hi," said the email. "I hope this doesn't come across as too strange but here goes. I was recently browsing eBay for a few things and came across something that I think you might like. So I bought it. See it as a small token of appreciation from a Londoner who only really learnt about London from reading your blog. The item is available now to pick up at this (I think local) address." Blimey, thanks! So I went round to the shop wielding my QR code, which scanned successfully, but the man behind the counter went through all his piles and told me he couldn't find it, it wasn't there. So, thanks, but also damn, no package. Sat 2: I walked for an hour along the Grand Union Canal from the house where my auntie grew up to the house where she lives now, past Fanny Cradock's house, and my reward was a lovely long-overdue family reunion with cronuts and good conversation. [photo] Sun 3: At the front of the eastbound platform at West Ealing, where you could very easily miss it, is a brightly planted community garden. I loved the display but the backdrop of 33 positive buzzwords (Empowered! Unity! Faith!) was a bit OTT. [photo] Mon 4: I went back to try to pick up my mystery package but no, the shopkeeper still claimed he didn't have it. I went back again ten minutes later armed with the extra information that the package was square and grey and this time he found it, hurrah, but still grumbled about handing it over because my name didn't match the name on the package. Here's a photo of the excellent gift I unwrapped. It's circular, it's made of metal and the chocolate digestive is for scale.
Tue 5: They give away some strange freebies at Waterloo but I wasn't expecting a table stacked high with copies of "Liam Loves Escalators", a children's story book published in 2017 by the Lift and Escalator Industry Association. I don't think it was as popular as they hoped it'd be. If you'd like to read the full story of Liam and Escalatosaurus, the e-book is available online here. [photo] Wed 6: I thought it was apocryphal but at Whitechapel station they are genuinely announcing "Customers using the escalators are advised to carry pets at all times." Now, in 2023. Thu 7: I walked past the jet blast fence at London City Airport while one of the planes was powering up, and forget ULEZ, those engines will have damaged my lungs far more than Barry's ten year-old diesel. Fri 8: I bumped into Ian Visits in exactly the place you'd expect to bump into Ian Visits (and did exactly the same thing elsewhere four days later). Sat 9: A young couple brought their newborn to an Open House tour, only for it to scream its head off so they left, and I think that's when it struck them that their former gadabout cultural life had come to a sudden end. Sun 10: At the Beefeater restaurant in Woolwich they're still advertising limited edition Creme Egg ice cream sundaes and urging you to book now for Easter. It's almost as bad as still wearing a poppy in April. [photo] Mon 11: TfL have put up posters at Bakerloo line stations alerting passengers that a new timetable is being introduced today and average peak waiting times will be eight seconds longer. Imagine if they put up posters every time they made a service fractionally worse.
Tue 12: It seems remarkably early in the term for multiple classes to be on school trips to the museums in South Kensington - I was hoping to have at least one week's respite. Wed 13: "We can only give you half your prescription," said my dispensing chemist yesterday, "come back tomorrow". So I came back, but when I opened my bag they'd given me the whole thing, not just the other half. When prescriptions cost £9.65 it's good to be 50% up. Thu 14: I bought some trainers in Primark at the start of July. I'm not sure what I was expecting for £18 but I wasn't expecting to see wear on the heel after just one day. Pretty soon I worked out they weren't waterproof, and by mid-August a crack in the sole meant they leaked upwards too. Today, not entirely unexpectedly, a chunk of the sole fell out on the way home and they are now in the bin. Never again. Fri 15: The Christmas puddings and mince pies have reappeared at my local supermarket, and 20 years ago this would have been the subject of an entire day's post. [photo] Sat 16: During my Open House ramblings I managed to fit in a ride on a vintage Routemaster as part of the London Bus Museum's Route 38 Heritage Event, and blimey when those buses were full they were really cramped. [photo] Sun 17: My immediate neighbour called to me across the balcony and offered me a potted plant because he was moving out and I'm pleased to say it's since flowered. I have totally lost count of the number of new neighbours I've had since I moved here in 2001, it's well into double figures.
Mon 18: A large chunk of the East Bank has opened up in the Olympic Park along a stepped waterfront. This is because it's the start of a new term, a new UAL building has opened and their fashion students need to be able to get to lectures. Tue 19: An old friend from university suddenly got in touch today - I haven't seen him since the morning Princess Diana died. He's had a pretty tumultuous year so I commiserated. I then Googled him and discovered he's had a glittering academic career doing great things, and I felt very unworthy in that I never really maximised my full potential and he very much did. We may meet up. Wed 20: The minor celebrity I walked past today: Jon Snow, the former newsreader, fleeing Granary Square in King's Cross. Thu 21: I got Wordle right in 1 today, because if you stick with the same familiar opening choice it eventually happens. Fri 22: A bin strike has just started across Tower Hamlets and this is the pile of rubbish beside Bus Stop M. I got chatting to a neighbour who said the strike was disgraceful and he'd seen rats and the council really should send some binmen round to clear it up. I rolled my eyes and walked on. The pile was finally cleared a week later.
Sat 23: On Cuckoo Avenue I was unnerved by a sign for the Ealing Half Marathon which said "Welcome to our runners from England". I presumed it was deliberate racism, but it turned out later to be one of dozens and the full set included Hungary, Latvia, Iceland and Nepal. [photo] Sun 24: Walking between National Trust properties in Surrey I passed a peeling road sign on a downgraded A road that instantly made me think "Beware aliens!". It was pointing towards the villages of Send and Ripley. [photo] Mon 25: My brother and his wife are celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary today, which also means it's 30 years since I got to be best man and give a speech, and I still reckon my brother showed great foresight in getting someone else to organise the stag do. Tue 26: I spent fifteen minutes on the phone to go through the rigmarole of opening a new savings account just to get an extra ½% interest. It's never this convoluted when they want to lower the rates instead. Wed 27: If you're the first person round Crystal Palace Park maze in the morning, it turns out you get absolutely plastered by spiders' webs. Thu 28: In the highest loo in London, which is on the upper observation deck at Horizon 22, the idiots have positioned the paper towel dispenser immediately above the toilet roll holder, which really isn't where you want dripping wet hands to be. [photo] Fri 29: Back in April I pointed out that Harrow bus station didn't have a bus spider map, either online or at the bus station, describing it as a "lamentable omission". I'm pleased to say that there are now two up-to-date spider maps at the bus station, hurrah, and I even used them to negotiate my onward travel.
Sat 30: The new cycle lanes in the centre of Leytonstone are ridiculously convoluted in their attempts to keep bikes separate from both traffic and pedestrians, and horribly inefficient in their use of space, the worst bit probably being the bus stop bypass where pedestrians are funnelled into a litter bin.