This is really a pretext for a continuation of the theme of yesterday’s post, but it does appear that the cold weather we have endured for six months is finally releasing its grip – I sat outside for almost the whole of yesterday afternoon and have been making use of my recently repositioned outside washing line. I respositioned it because in its old alignment adjoining an outside space rather larger than mine that belongs to Arterton’s because of the hazards on clothing blowing off the line (even when anchored with extra pegs to guard against this) and down into the unused space belonging to Arterton’s when the wind gets up (in King’s Lynn whenever there’s a y in the day. The process of retrieval is complicated by the fact that the only access to and from Arterton’s space is via a fire escape ladder, and climbing down that with retrieved clothing under one arm is not nice.
Returning to the theme I opened up yesterday (the 150th anniversary of London Underground series of books) I have decided to post some ideas that I jotted down yesterday evening about things relating to each line that could have been used in books. I will be starting unsurprisingly with the Hammersmith and City line (victim as you will recall of M. Philippe Parreno’s travesty).
Before moving on to my suggestions I quote his explanatory paragraph from the back cover, the only words he saw fit to produce (if indeed they are his): “An attempt to produce a psycho-geographical map of a subway line. It’s a mental construction. An abstraction. The title of the book is from the French word “Derive”. Derive means “drift”. A derive is a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiences in a city described as such by Guy Debord as a “situationist” practice.” In otherwords it is supposed to be ‘art’, to which I say: “Art, Schmart”. Maybe a book of this type, consisting entirely of pictures and functioning as Parreno describes has a place but ti certainly does not belong in this series.
My ideas for what might have been used in a book to commemorate this line were jotted down in a few minutes while sitting outside listening to Laura Robson win a Fed Cup match in emphatic style – in otherwords these ideas come from the same amount fo research as Parreno performed – none.
Firstly the original section of line opened in 1863: Paddington to Farringdon, with the platforms at Paddington structurally part of the mainline station (a unique feature on the whole system).
Various stations along the route either have special features on serve places of particular interest. Moving from west to east some of these are:
Hammersmith: St Paul’s Girl’s school where for many years Gustav Holst was director of music – could use this is a jumping off point for writing about classical music more generally if one wished.
Ladbroke Grove: The name commemorates the fact that there was to be a race course here (it was never completed as the developers want bankrupt but the street pattern betrays the history).
Baker Street: Home to the world’s most famous fictional detective (and unlike the other lines that serve this station, these platforms would have been in service the whole time that Holmes lived there) – obvious potentialities there. Also home to Madame Tussaud’s and the Planetarium, both wonderful places to visit. Finally for those interested in trivia this stations has the most platforms of any underground station with 10.
King’s Cross: Six underground lines serve this station. Home to platform 9 3/4 from where the Hogwarts express sets off.
Farringdon: The original eastern terminus of the 1863 route. Also for Dickens fans there is a tavern just down the road called the Betsey Trotwood.
Barbican: The Barbican Centre and the Museum of London (although St Pauls on the central line is a fraction closer to this latter).
Mile End: Only cross-platform underground interchange between subsurface and tube (central) lines.
There is much of a geeky nature that I could have added to this list but did not. Any or all of the things detailed above could have been used as the basis for an excellent book.