Dulwich: an Open House is not a Motel

This is a bite-sized post; on a Sunday stroll with the missus, I wasn’t intending to do any Nairning but ended up seeing things and having to borrow her iPhone. Dulwich I will return to for a proper post in due course. It was Open House weekend and for blogging purposes I should have been all over it, but all the seldom-open buildings were fully booked by the time I’d applied (such as that sewage pumping station in Stratford). I’m a walker-out, not a joiner-in. I have a horror of voluntarily signing up to anything that will bring me into contact with people, and I’ve never participated in Open House. Having picked out a few interesting places, when it came to traipsing into London at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning I found that I couldn’t face standing in a queue of 500 people and decided I might fare better by trying to sneak into a place when nobody else is doing so (going to work on the Saturday, on the inevitable replacement bus, I passed the Bank of England an hour before its doors opened and the queues were already formidable).

Continue reading “Dulwich: an Open House is not a Motel”


Greenwich: the sun never sets upon Irony

On the day when Scotland’s few “don’t knows” flinched from delivering the death knell to Britain, I found myself at one of the sites which is pivotal to the story Britain tells about its collective self, and about the days when we were good at something. I don’t place all the blame chez Salmond and his snake oil; there’s a convincing argument that after deindustrialisation and deregulation, it was London & the South East which cut the moorings and drifted off from the rest of the UK. Nonetheless, for obvious reasons the demise of the UK will make an Ulsterman’s sense of self wobble a bit, and strolling around the historical icons of Greenwich -even if most of these slightly predate the Act of Union- the pathos was palpable.

Continue reading “Greenwich: the sun never sets upon Irony”

Stratford: their set is amazing, but doesn’t smell like a street

The Money is rapidly running out of bits of London to which it can lay siege. Crossrail will draw more outlying areas into the orbit of the £500,000 rabbit hutch bonanza, but in London proper there are very few areas yet to receive a going-over from investment. Newham remains a bit of a banlieue; a borough dogged by news stories labelling it the heartland of ‘sheds-with-beds’, and tales of criminal landlords who place 50 immigrants in a three-bed house. Yet Stratford was the site of the glorious Games; that supernova which felt like a miraculous rebirth at the time and two years on -days away from the likely dissolution of Britain- looks as much of a last hurrah as the celebrations for Franz Josef’s 80th birthday. On this walk I (perhaps perversely) eschewed the hubristic monuments of 2012 and tried to look at the Stratford normal people have to live in, if any of them are left.

Continue reading “Stratford: their set is amazing, but doesn’t smell like a street”


Summer is over, the football is back and life resumes once more. Now that I tend not bother watching bands I once loved going through the motions at Bush Hall, football is the only thing that gives me cause to visit West London. The place is a foreign country to me, so little have I to do with it. I half expect to be turned away at passport control and told to apply for a travel visa from the Kremlin. The two fixtures I’d been excited about turned out to be games 1 & 2 of the 46; at home to the hated Leeds, and away to Fulham on the bucolic riverbanks of Putney.

Continue reading “Cottaging”