Up The Smoke again Thursday. London Bridge Station goes from strength to strength. A new exit carved from the platform directly into a street packed with The Children of Thatcher. Now mature adults. All thoroughly indoctrinated. “No such thing as society. We are all individuals. We must all compete. No alternative to markets. Our work is our identity. Our preferences are our community”. A legacy of materialism bequeathed by a generation of hippies turned bankers.
Even so……it’s the month of May and I’m in London. Busy streets, tall buildings, big red buses and still a trace of soot in the air. Commercialisation of everything continues apace but London is big and complicated and it takes time. London endures. There is still time before some marketing “creative” decides to advertise brand London by putting a picture of a London bus on the side of a London bus.
12:30pm in Dalston but hipsters drink coffee so The Prince George is shut. The campaign to save the parade of run down shops along Dalston Lane has not been in vain. They have had a facelift to make them accdeptable to the gentry. Facades in tasteful green and authentic looking retro brass spot lights. As yet there are no tenants but we can have fun guessing the nature of the new retailers. Artisan bakeries? Cycle shops selling carbon fibre frames? A contrast from the ghastly Indian restaurant, the taxi office and the chippy.
In the West End technology has done for the area around Centre Point. No teenage school boys flock to Tottenham Court Road to gaze longingly at Quad and Tandberg but settle for a Garrard SP25 Mark IV. No letters fly between New York playwrights and antiquarian booksellers in Charing Cross Road. The Cross Rail development has doomed even poor Denmark Street. Attempts to save it merely resulted in developers realising they’d missed a marketing opportunity and its dead past is to be the theme for a commercial complex including “An 800-seat subterranean performance venue” (according to Wikipedia). Very soon tourists will flock there to buy T-shirts and tick off “Tin Pan Alley” from their bucket list.
Outside The Dog and Duck on Bateman Street a handful of punters stood enjoying their pints. I sank a few myself and the handful became a throng. A patrolling bouncer ensured we stood behind a yellow line painted on the pavement. As the population increases more measures are needed to keep us in order. There are even ideas of introducing rules for where to stand on the escalators!
We talk of prehistoric man and Catalonia and motorcycles and science as a religion. We convince the potman that our friend in the dark suit is an undertaker. A gaggle of Hare Krishna followers are heard before they are seen trooping up Frith Street as they have done for decades. Then tottering up Dean, across Great Marlborough and on to Oxford Circus. Then Victoria and home. Thankfully I no longer do this for a living so avoided the monstrous queue for cabs at Brighton station and took the bus.