Wednesday, 28 December 2011
Sunday, 18 December 2011
'lines along the third dimension indicate
connections through time: here, the King's Cross fire
leads to wartime bivouacs on station platforms
and further still, to children singing on a sunlit hill' (2)
'The Guests are scattered thro' the land,
For the Eye altering alters all;
The Senses roll themselves in fear
And the flat Earth becomes a Ball' (3)
1. Peter Ackroyd, The Plato Papers, London: Chatto & Windus, 1999, 26.
2. Michael Donaghy, 'Poem on the Underground', Collected Poems, London: Picador, 2009, 196.
3. William Blake, 'The Mental Traveller' (1863).
Images: Harry Beck's London Underground map (the original version was drawn up in 1935); and Simon Patterson's lithograph The Great Bear (1992), which places me in Max Wall, just along the line from Tony Hancock and Bernard Manning. For a detailed version of Patterson's lithograph, and some thoughtful perceptions by Maeve Conway Fried, see here. For short essays on Patterson and The Great Bear, see here and here. Thanks to Sebastian Groes, The Making of London: London in Contemporary Literature, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
Monday, 5 December 2011
"It's rare nowadays to hear anyone talk about 'night time in London'. That phrase, and its suggestion of a distinct, cordoned-off territory in which we may immerse ourselves in strange possibilities or make ourselves susceptible to off-kilter enchantments, seems rather old-fashioned. It has been emperilled by New Labour's vision of London - a blinging, pigeon-free, glass-fronted, private-finance-initiative-funded, cappuccino-sipping, Barcelona-mimicking, Euro-piazza festooned, Vanity Fair-endorsed, live-forever, things-can-only-get-better fantasia. The city in recent years has witnessed a bevy of real-estate moguls, foreign investors and film directors trading in a slicked-up form of commodity urbanism; equally, the 'London night' has morphed into, and been rebranded, as 'London nightlife'' (12).