Monday, April 09, 2007


Not particularly interested in either organised religion or chocolate eggs, the arrival of Easter in the calendar amounted solely to a very welcome long weekend. After last week it was good to set aside some of the work I had set aside for this weekend and just simply relax.

Late Thursday, I had been sent out to try and conciliate a rather inconsonant client. Even using my considerable charm we still failed to resolve matters. I ended up out on the street wanting to kick something a very great distance. The upside was I was in South Kensington on a beautifully sunny afternoon.

In a big city there are boroughs you never have a chance to go to, never want to go to, or used to go to but haven’t been back for a long time. My first year in London, back when I enrolled at The Esteemed School of Art, South Kensington was my local tube stop.

First year students for the London art schools were placed in various halls of residence dotted around the capital to help then acclimatize to the bright lights of the big city. I was assigned a room in the hall just south of the Thames overlooking Battersea Park.

The first Sunday there, armed with the A-Z, I walked to Hampstead Heath via Hyde Park, Regents Park and Primrose Hill. Thereafter, every morning I’d walk across the Albert Bridge and cut up through Chelsea to South Kensington underground station.

After a while I figured that getting into a crowded metal tube and being shot down a pipe wasn’t the best way to the see the city. Instead, leaving the hall earlier to factor in the additional travelling time, I’d get a bus on the King’s Road. Sitting on the top deck as it travelled up Sloane Street to Knightsbridge, then along Piccadilly to Shaftesbury Avenue, I soon discovered the beautiful architecture of Central London.

After seeing the client I went for a walk. My working day was just about done and I needed some air before travelling home. The office got to hear the bad news before I reached the tail end of the Cromwell Road, which means that this week at work will start off sweet.

Knowing it could wait, I stood in the sunshine outside the V&A to wind down. And then I got a bus up to Piccadilly to remind myself, by which time I didn’t care a jot.


At 12:28 pm, Blogger JD said...

I've always felt that the Tube has its own kind of beauty. It does amaze me, though, that more people don't walk in London. The Tube map may be a work of genius, but it does bear little relation to the streets above. I had this brought home to me shortly after I started working in London, when a Tube strike forced me out on to the street, and I discovered that, where I had been spending the best part of a half hour on two ifferent lines to get from Kings Cross to my office near Chancery Lane, all I really needed to do was come out the station, turn left and walk for ten minutes down Grays Inn Road.

At 4:52 pm, Blogger Lee said...

Ah, fond memories. Kings Road to Shaftesbury Ave sounds like the 19 to me - for three years I would alternate between that and the 11, as I could barely remain sane on the Tubes.

Great routes. Would I move back? Hell, no!

At 7:30 pm, Blogger English Dave said...

Rich Georgians and Victorians knew what they were doing. They hired architects and left them to get on with it. lol. In the ephemeral writing game there is no doubt you can find solace in the beauty of classic architecture. Though I doubt if anything of real beauty got there without a creative fighting a bunch of arseholes.

And that is the solace for me.

At 8:05 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

JD, oh boy, if I had to get the WAGN in from Hitchen, the last thing I'd want to do is face the Piccadilly and Central lines. I bet you get into the office every morning feeling more relaxed now.

Used to commute in to London from Peterborough for a while - the girlfriend at the time didn't like the morning commute - and I'd walk to the studio. To make up for it it meant passing St Pancreas and Senate House.

Lee, yep, it was the 19. Back when we had the marvellous old Routemaster buses. The only real blight was the embassy just over halfway up Sloane Street. Was it the Danish embassy? Facade like a sheet of black marble with tombstone windows. The most unsympathetic architecture I've ever seen.

There was also the nasty tower block built over Edinburgh gate that the bus had to loop under to face toward Hyde Park Corner. Passing the spot last week all I saw was a big hole in the ground. They've knocked it down - huzzah! - and hopefully something nicer is going up in its place.

ED, big thumbs up to the "rich Georgians and Victorians". Walking on the street you can't look up at the buildings and see the proper architecture above the showroom windows and the like. Tried it... people keep bumping in to you.

So everyone should be made to take the buses and see the utter beauty of the buildings, however many arseholes managed to put a spanner in the works.


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