The view from the College bar

Standing on the smoking terrace outside the bar on the 4th floor. In the next building I can see people fencing. Down below there is a yurt. The old Post Office tower looms shinily over ULU. The other way I can see Senate House – AKA Gotham City Hall AKA the Ministry of Truth. Its all lit up. Birds are singing in the plane trees. People are talking about PhDs. Its not a bad place to work 🙂

Peckham Rye looking Pretty

Loads of people take photos of places like Peckham and make them look dingy and derelict and generally unpleasant. I’ve even done it myself. Its easy to do – its embeded in photographic culture with the elitist use of black and white. So here are some pictures of Peckham looking good on a spring afternoon. As usual, select them to see others on Flickr.

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Its the gardens in Peckham Rye Park, of course.

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So here is a jumble of older pictures of Peckham and Camberwell that are a bit mroe colourful than many:

Very Colourful  Peckham
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Peckham has Landed
Burgess Park blossom, February 2007
Burgess Park Daffodils
Addington Square, February
Camberwell - big round flats

Other pictures tagged with “Peckham” through this link

The Road to Millwall (5)

, or, collapse of once-stout QPR

So how do we get to Millwall from central London for an evening kick-off match?

Its easy and quick. The Millwall ground is the nearest professional stadium to the City of London – only about two miles away, just a tad closer than Arsenal, and there are plenty of buses and tubes going sort-of in the right direction. Away supporters get advised to go by train from London Bridge to South Bermondsey, so we will avoid both statios for that very reason!

We start by a well-known building in the lively dead centre of London and wait for a Number 1 bus

As all London transport geeks know, the oldest bus route in London – and therefore almost certainly the oldest bus rout in the world – is the number 12, from Oxford Circus to Camberwell. It is the direct descendent of the first motor bus route run by Tilling’s back in 190-something, and that itself was a descendent of probably the first horse bus route. Though some argue for the 9, and there are a few running-dogs and revisionists and who hold out for the 24. Splitters! (And why does everybody on a southbound 24 in Goodge street in the evening look so sad or hassled?)

So why is the number 1 the number 1? It’s not a particularly important route, nor a very long distance one. OK, the 12 was adopted into the London Transport numbering scheme a few years after it started, as it was being run by a private company who didn’t yet use numbers – but what gave the Lewisham to Willesden route precendence over the numbers 2 to 9 – all of which still exist, and have at least some of their route in common with what they were doing a century ago.

Its just one of those mysteries.

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Its hard to take photos on this journey because its dark. Though we get occasional chances – like this photo of Waterloo Station. We could get off the bus here and go down those escalators you can see in the picture to try to get to Bermondsey or Surrey Docks by tube. But we won;t, because the Number One takes us almost all the way.

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That’s about it for the view. Also I’ve already put lots of pictures taken from buses online – some linked to in this post on the Dark Streets of London

So I came back the next day in daylight & will post those pictures soon.

Other than that, nothing of interest until the first siting of police activity just where the bus is about to turn right from Southwark Park Road to Galleywall Road. One of the other unfailing signs of the imminence of Millwall, an extrem number of railway bridges, is also in evidence. There was one just beside us as we turned by the police car (I was taking photos the other way of course) and there is anoither one at the bottom of Galleywall Road, just before you turn into Ilderton road. Which is as dingy a spot as you will find in inner London.

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From the footballing point of view Tuesday evening was rather good. QPR seemed to be playing for a draw, and didn;t look as if they were seriously trying to score. Millwall’s defence was better than theirs and their offence was at least more enthusiastic and committed. When Millwall managed to score QPR appeared to realise they could in fact lose, at get demoralised quite quitely. Or so it looked from our end. Millwall made all the running in the second half , attacking at every opportunity – a tactivc that failed agains ‘Boro (though it was exciting to watch, drew against Forest, beat QPR, and triumphed at Burnley. If they manage to keep up the improvement against Cardiff they are going to win five nil 🙂

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The Road to Millwall (4)

Or:

Somewhere Over The Railway

Also Known As:

Funny sort of recession, innit?

I’ve often been able to spot previous economic “downturns” because the amount of construction going on around me goes down. It was especially obvious in the brief blip in the late 1980s/early 1990s – the number of tower cranes visible from the window of my office fell from over 100 to 30 in a few weeks and then went down almost to zero.

Doesn’t seem to have happened this time. As you can see from these pictures, that’s not where we are at these days at all. Not where I live, anyway. Its swamped with construction projects. As we can see from these pictures of yet another way to get to the Millwall ground – this time by walking across Deptford Park and along Surrey Canal Road. Take a look at some of the smaller pictures – cranes and construction in almost all of them.

We start by going round the corner to Jerrard Street. Our view is blocked by this huge construction site:

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But we take our stand by a smaller one:

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Straight ahead we can see a railway arch (surprise, surprise, the first of many) and, Somewhere Over The Railway. more construction going on

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Our mission today (should we choose to accept it) takes us on a 47 bus along Brookmill Road and into Deptford Church Street.

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They even let buses into pubs nowadays:

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I like the look of London in the rain. The sky is the the right colour for the buildings. And the more spectacular of the new buildings know that and (literally) reflect it – they gave up trying to look Mediterranean or Manhattanish, and settled for shiny, wet, and yellowish-grey.

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Then left at the bottom of Church Street and up Evelyn Street. You get off just after the fire station, by the canal bridge, (not that there is any canal any more) and turn left and walk into the park. You can see the power station in the distance.

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We’ve not got away from either construction or railways though. We need to dogleg left into Surrey Canal Road (people younger than me can still remember when it was a canal) through one of the nastiest junctions in London. For cyclists, anyway. Three roads approach the same spot (four if you count a sort of slipway into a lorry park beside the railway) and all are blind – two of them have bends, two have sudden slopes, two go through railway bridges – so each road has at least two reasons why you can;t see what’s coming.

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Now we are on familiar territory – yet more railway bridges:

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And the power station – we must be near!

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Under one more bridge then turn into this inviting driveway and the stadium is in front of us.

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Past the place where you can just about see the Big Screen from outside the ground – you can tell it by the heap of empty beer cans and fag ends and the strategically placed old mattresses and dead fridges for kids to stand on

And now we can draw nil-nil with Nottingham Forest.

But its OK, because I’m posting these with a huge lag so I already know that it gets better next week….

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Food! Beer! Toilets!

What more could a football supporter want?

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Three-nil, that’s what!

Saturday was a sad day for Burnley in another way as well. I went there to see a football match. And we had a famous victory. Not a lot happened in the first half – the BBC website said that Burnley had most of the possession but it didn’t look like it from our end – James Henry in particular was hammering at them like a hero for attack after attack. There were some attempts at goal, but Burnley simply didn’t look as if they were trying that hard. They almost seemed to be willing to settle for a draw. Which might have made sense from QPR away to Millwall earlier in the week – they are so far up the table they don’t need to beat Millwall – but is not a good tactic from Burnley at home, still four points shy of the play-offs, and with only nine more games to go.

And just like QPR on Tuesday, whatever they were trying backfired. They couldn’t get past Millwall’s defence for the first hour or so of the game, then they let in a goal they should have stopped. Then they woke up, smelled the coffee (or should that be the cider?) and suddenly realised they could lose. And did lose, just like that. Just as against QPR (where it worked) and Middlesborough (where it didn’t, but was hair-raising fun to watch) Millwall kept on coming, right to the final whistle, and the other lot didn’t manage to organise a fight back. Paul Robinson got a second goal, and the third fell to Andros Townsend, a teenager on loan from Spurs, his first score for the team.

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Scary Millwall supporters walking to the ground (& yes there were cops waiting for the half dozen or so of us who got of the train)

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Of course when we actually got there there were mostly local fans:

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Important things first:

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The away end of the ground is a lot like Palace. But it was quite comfortable as there were only about 400 of us, not the 4,000 of squeezed into one toilet the day we went to Norwood.

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Look at the large crowd at the other end. (That’s important. There will be questions later)

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There is even a pillar in the way. At least I could move around to see past it.

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Its an odd feeling knowing that all these cops are here to protect the 14,000 at the other end of the pitch from us:
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Oh, did I say 14,000? Look again. The game has about ten minutes to go, but most of them have left:

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The monster that ate Burnley.

I think I like Burnley. If I ever went there before – and as far as I remember I did briefly, but it was over 25 years ago – I don’t remember much of it. I probably just passed through, set foot, saw enough of the place to tick the mental “I’ve been to Burnley” box. The town seems to be having a hard time. Its more than just a little bit run down. Full of shops and bars and churches that look like they went broke and hae been boarded up ever since. A bit sad in a way that, say, Preston or Bolton aren’t. Or even Jarrow or Sunderland, though they are probably poorer places.

A boarded-up old church for sale:

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Cops on the prowl by two derelict pubs over the road from the grandly namd “Burnley Central Station”

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Even the old courthouse is for sale, which seems a sad failing of civic pride and urban planning.

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Nice TownHall though:

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Burnley is one of a string of old milltowns stretching east from Preston into the Pennines, across the north side of industrial, urban, Lancashire about an hours drive north of Manchester, weapped round Pendle and marching up the valleys in the general direction of the Yorkshire Dales. Blackburn, Accrington, Burnley, Nelson, Colne. Once upon a time they were small wool market towns until water power and canals turned them into cotton-spinning mill towns, and then coal (Burnley is also at the northern edge of the Lancashire coal fields) and the railway made them briefly, industrial powerhouses. giants. But the coal was mostly shut down by the 1940s, cotton-spinning moved away to Asia in the 60s and 70s, general textile produciton changed to artficial fibres and moved down to the coast, and Burnley was too close to Manchester and Preston to become a commercial or educational centre – and too far from them to be a commuter suburb.

But even then, its a beautiful place, although it is difficult to take photos of it that don’t look like some stage Northern urban decay. Every view has the hills and moors in the background.

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Its hard by the moors, and easily accessible by road and rail. And there are more than a hundred thousand people living in these valleys. So why are the shops and the pubs shut down and falling apart? Because, I suspect, its been destroyed by developers. Even poor people spend money – but they spend it in large chain-store sheds put up all over the place ripping the urban fabric apart. There are railway stations all around – but with only one slow train an hour on most routes, they are little more than halts.

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The centre of town doesn’t come up to the grandeur of post-industrial desolation. It just looks neglected and bypassed and – on a cold day in March – damp.

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So here is the Monster that Ate Burnley:

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And just to show we care, here is the little river the town is named for:
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Rochester, Chatham, and ?

Is it Gillingham or Jillingham? I’d say the second. But station announcers at Charing Cross seem to want to sit on the fence. I just heard a recorded announcement that used both in the same sentence. I guess its mashed up from separate snippets but it did sound like one voice.

The Road to Millwall (3)

“Footpath Diversion. Footpath Closed: The footpath between Silwood Street and Surrey Canal Road is closed while we improve your railway”

Things have changed a lot in only two weeks. Now, if you want to walk from Surrey Docks station through to the football ground by the route I described in my previous post, you see this sign:

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Quel horreur! (or whatever they say in France).

And there is a fence across the first arch I walked under in my previous post:

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So lets try following the route in that helpful map. First turn right along this street:

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And walk along until we get to the helpful sign that says “Stadium”:

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(That photo and the next two mysteriosly miss out the police van parked right by the turning – either the Met have discovered the Klingon Cloaking Device, of I for some reason omitted to photograph the coppers resting in the van about three metres from where I was standing)

So turn left and you see this – one of Deptford’s few one-track-roads-with-passing-places. There are three or four round here, including the famous Cold Blow Lane. If the car drivers are in a good mood they honk their horns before turning the tight corners.

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If you go through and turn back you can see the new estate and the invisible police van:

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Go through that bridge and guess what – you come to another one. Is this begining to sound familiar?

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We’re very near the ground now, as we can tell by the power station:

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But this is Bolina Road, so instead of putting us out right between the power station and the ground it wanders beneath the arse end of South Bermondsey Station then wraps itself around the back of the stadium to come out near the main entrance – something like fifteen minutes walk instead of five.

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The next bridge has a rather spectacular pile of mossy concrete blocks:

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And after a tight S-bend, another bridge, this one with some broken car parts

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And then another bend and one last bridge:

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The police here don’t seem to have turned on their Klingon Cloaking Devices. Well, not all of them, I counted somewhere between forty and fifty vehicles, many of them vans or minibuses with real sleeping policemen in them. At least two hundred police, possibly quite a lot more. Also dogs and horses. I stronly suspect that the Met – or maybe even other police forces – rotates units through Millwall duty to give them practice at crowd control. Sorry, student protestors, its all our fault that the cops are so good at kettling these days. They learned on us.

We’re almost there now, here’s one of the police horse boxes near the main entrance to the ground:

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And here we are again, back in Sunny Deptford (we were briefly in Bermondsey back there) and the salubrious smoking lounge:

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And just to prove it, here are some of London’s Finest – along with some of the Metropolitan Police who had been called onto the pitch by the referee to assist the linesman in his duties:

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You might notice a lot of footballers standing around and rather obviously not playing football.

As things turned out they called in a few more police and a large number of stewards before they felst able to restart the match:

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And believe it or not after that it was actually a good game. Genuinely exciting.

Don’t ask about the score though.

The Road to Millwall (2)

OK, this is how to get to wonderful Millwall in Sunny Deptford. Or was, until last week, when they closed the path under the railway.

We’ll start in Lewisham, waiting in the rain for a 21 bus to come:

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From to New Cross Gate Station to get on a shiny bendy East London Line train:

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The train journney is only about three minutes, and goes straight past the ground here:

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Get off at Surrey Docks Station:

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Turn left, cross the road, and walk past these nice flats:

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And go into this estate here:

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And between the new flats and the railway (trust me, this is a lot more salubrious now than it was ten or fifteen years ago)

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And that brings you to the first of the railqway arches you have to pass through – this is the bit of the walk that has just been closed so this is the last time we’ll get to see the strategically-placed blocks of concrete or the lovely broken barbed wire of the “Danger Keep Off Japanese Knotweed” signs.
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Past the big fans on the power station that look like the business end of a Saturn Five and howl in the dark:

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Through here:

And here:

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Under one more railway – we’re almost there now!

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Down this path:

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And there you are, right by the Cold Blow Lane turnstiles. If you look carefully you can see the half time smoking area in the car park. That must be just about the apex of British sporting society. What have Henley or Wimbledon or Royal Ascot or Cheltenham or Goodwood got to match the sight of the smoking pen at the Den, out in the rain between the power station and the DHL warehouses?

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And just to show it is really there, here is the game from two weeks ago. We won – Lisbie scored in the 90th minute. Jolly good show, eh chaps!

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The Road to Millwall (1)

The nice people from Network Rail and London Transport have closed off some of the paths under the many railway lines that separate the Den from the rest of the world. Apparently because they want to knock down some bridges and build new railways.

So, in the spirit of documenting the rapidly changing face of South East London (sounds like bollocks when you put it like that, doesn’t it?), I thought I’d post some pictures showing how to get to Millwall football ground. More later. But first we’ll kick off with this nice shot of the main entrance from Zampa Road:

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Those ten thousand people you can’t quite see because the stadium lights are too bright for the cheap camera are making a very large amount of noise.

Not exactly the prettiest sports venue in the country, is it?

Though, unless you are a serious fan of post-industrial urban desolation and brutalist architecture (which I suppose I am), this is almost certainly the least grotty direction to approach the stadium from. And possibly the least intimidating for visiting fans, apart from the penned-off approach from South Bermondsey Station (of which more in a few weeks probably)

well-developed education vertical

Some good business jargon today. 

“…well-developed education vertical”

“…usability for people in need of  accessibility-type solutions”

“… is a high-touch event”

“… innovators in the technology space and innovators in the non-technology space”

And yet again, the “techies” talked straight, it was the marketing types who used the OTT jargon. 

Thronging in the streets

Well, I’ve bought a new, cheap camera. Not much point in buying an expensive one as I seem to have lost my last two. I suppose this is because of my habit of walking around London at all times of day and night with the camera in my pocket.

So now I am tooled up again, here is the view from my office window about two hours ago. (As usual you can click on the little pictures to see some bigger ones)

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Some good banners in there. And a surprisingly large number of red-haired people. Is it dye? Or are they predisposed to protest?

Anyway, its nice to see the youth of today take an interest in politics 🙂

Overheard on a mobile phone.

Still continue to be amazed by what some people will say into phones with complete strangers in earshot.

The other day I overheard a young man say roughly this:

“I was done for three charges of common assault. I pleaded not guilty to one of them, but I did the other two. One of them was that time I knocked you over and kicked you in the head and you called the police but they didn’t arrest me.”

National Hangover Day

Its quiet. Too quiet…

Almost as few people about in the streets of South London as on Christmas Day. This 436 bus is almost empty.

And Radio Three is threatening to play lots of Mozart 🙁

So I am positively forced to go to the Millwall-Palace match for some shouting