‘It’s always the same river, but never the same experience’. The ‘strong brown god’ at its most benign (deceptive bends), in the act of turning towards the source or the sea. Further east an unmarked police car screams along the embankment, light flashing and siren blaring. Moments later the drama is reversed as a call prompts the vehicle to slow to a halt, thus switching off both instruments of warning. An emergency anti climax (tbc).
Passing the town hall. A post-registry office wedding gathering. Wide and extravagant hats, suits, cigarettes, phones (and cameras) amidst the debris of confetti. The scene fundamentally resembling a front cover of a sociology publication from the 1970s. A change in fashion and technology but underpinned by a timeless ceremony, acted out on a daily basis with the same components and social mores. ‘New (& Old) Society’?
Observing an old man pushing his shopping trolley very slowly. A laminated A4 sign placed at the front of the container announces and invites us to ‘WEB, FACEBOOK OR TWIT ETC TO THE WORLD’ in a bid to counter the blight on his and other residents lives. Namely that of the dystopian architectural beanstalk that is the inexorable rise of ‘luxury apartments’. For this ‘old age and disabled, world war pensioner’ the declining quality of life will be heightened with this impending Tower of Babel, threatening to literally and metaphorically close in on his confined dwelling. A kind of mobile take on the sandwich board protest placard.
In passing…’Hyde Park is just too big’, ‘I’ve never been over 3500 metres’, ‘She’s Irish’, ‘Look at that dog’, ‘…had my lunch’ (phone), ‘No handover process’, ‘A pigeon went on my head, then…’, ‘HR people that need training’, ‘The plus’, ‘If it kicks off at five past eight’, ‘Wait, what does Laura say? Laura says something’, ‘It’s like Disneyland. Remember that time?’. A five minute window on lunch hour.
Passing a group of contractors sitting, at street level, on a red and white striped wooden barrier during a tea break. Phones, cigarettes, energy drinks, helmets and hi vis vests. A kind of inadvertent contemporary take on the iconic shot of steel erectors balanced in the air over New York’s burgeoning skyscrapers.
A street bearing the mark of major transformation. Old businesses being transformed into new outlets or simply closed in lieu of more fundamental change. The metropolis mindset, namely that of ‘chain reaction’ and extending the cultural arm of tourism deeper into southern territory. The days of a parade of local shops, that included a pet shop et al, now numbered.
Passing from south to north along a regular haunt for rough sleepers. Towards the station end of the hybrid of retail and makeshift homeless beds, a stand with the proclamation ‘What Is True Success?’. A homeless man engages in conversation with two Jehovah’s Witnesses. The post-Easter post mortem?
A supermarket security guard wrestles with a suspected shoplifter as a homeless man (in his sleeping bag) and those at a florist watch on with bemusement, but no intervention. A hybrid of Hogarth meets biblical parable.
A lorry driver walks alongside his articulated vehicle smoking a roll-up, his polo shirt collar partially turned up in an inadvertent homage to Eric Cantona. He strolls past the contents of his trailer, namely large sections of rusting bridge recently dismantled from the Waterloo line, in lieu of replacement. The Rugeley based firm contracted to transport a span that has provided the backbone for endless journeys in and out of ‘Terminus’. The driver probably (and understandably) indifferent to this small but poignant chapter in the permanent way network.
A slightly dishevelled man walks along a path in heavy rain and under dark skies, carrying a (freshly picked) sprig of cherry blossom in one hand and a supermarket plastic bag in the other. His progress a little erratic and punctuated by bursts of an unidentifiable and quietly delivered song. A benign take on a (modern day, urban) ‘Lear on the heath’.