Charles' London Architectural Journal 2009

London Skyline London Panorama Meanderings of an Londoneering Castaway.
A series of Charles' occasional observations. He does go on a bit... Shuffling soon to a street near you.
Oct 2009 Hell Aint A Bad Place To Be 
Good Evening viewers, and welcome to the London Destruction news page. The next one I shall write shall be on a new URL which I'm sure you've all got scribbled down. Ok, it's:

http://londondestruction.angelfire.com

I dont know why it dont have any www's in the URL, but it seems to work OK. I'm still moaning on and on as to why Yahoo had to close down this site, they must have been making £££millions out of my and my readers. Oh well, so much for that. Pretty soon, the words you are reading will be lost in cyberspace, although they have been transplanted onto the new site, so up yours, Delores.

Now where were we? Oh yes, London's great architecture, whats left of it, is everywhere to be seen. Natural History Museum was one such appointment, to see this Butterfly House, a little roastingly hot tent full of pretty little flying bugs and tropical fawna. Fan bloody tastic. After that, it was another venture into the sad old main building to see this new Darwin Centre. Oh dear, what a horrible monster they have created, knocking down some old Victorian laboratories so that they could build some ovular white 100ft tall metal carbuncle full of dumb computer interfaces and patronising video screens. I was in and out in two minutes, as they say, gasping for breath, as they also say, feeling full of digust and in pain for those old and now demolished laboratories which made way for this ugliness. "We didnt want to be known as just an old Victorian museum" said the assistant. Well why not? ANYTHING from that great era is better than this. Darwin shoud surely roll in his grave if he saw this rubbish.

Back onto the good old tube. South Ken is still a big building site with Al Fresco dining in the middle of what used to be the main street. As usual, less road space means more traffic misery, not that they care, as long as they get their Euro 'Squares' etc. So on to the tube, which was quite pleasant. Seems to be going through a good spell, with less psychopaths around. Less beggars too, as I cant remember the last time I saw a quintet of asylum seeker accordionists. There was one man asleep, dressed in a suit, I think he might have been there since the rush hour, now slightly late I thought. Obviously needed the day off rather than rush in for some boring seminar. Someone else was eating a burger with chips, but urgh, the smell of McD makes one so queeezy.They were making quite a mess of it too, and I suppose the package ended up on the floor, but I left before the crime took place.

Just had to view the Trafalgar Square Forth Plinth attraction, where various performance arteeests or rather reality rejects were atop the plinth for an hour each doing something desperately surreal or non profound, only to be embarassingly taken away via this cherry picker and dumped off near this group of sheds. Enough of that idiocy. More importantly, I had the chance to view the insides of the Bank of England: Well, it's always nice to view places out of regular view. I enjoyed that very much, quite a contrast to that diabolical Darwin Centre. It's inevitably an age old interior of courtyards and decorated rooms, and you even get to see the Governors Office. Fab. Yes, the city still has some marvellous old buildings in it, much of it saved so far from those nasty developers. Keep away!

Now, dearest readers, Euston Arch is indeed in the news again, and it's more good news, where at long last moves are being made to resurrect the old girl, dredging out old stones that had been thrown into a canal, slowly making plans to correct the past evils that had seen the Arch trashed in 1962. The plans looked rather splendid, and the visualisations pleasant enough. Until I read that they intend to open a nightclub in its basement and a Bistro on its roof. Oh no! The poor old Euston Arch is back, but now fronted by a bulldog bouncer arguing with some teenage drunks with some TV chef swearing at his minions from the upper balcony. Good grief. My heart sank so low it touched the core of the Earth. Will they ever learn? Ok, maybe itís a small price to pay, but Iím sure Betjamin would have something to say about this... Some kind of anglo saxon expletives, I should think.

Ok you people, thanks again for reading, see you on the new website, those of you who can find it. To those of you who cant, thanks for a great 8 years under Geocities. Goodbye everybody, goodbye. I love you all.

Sept 2009 Change Of URL 
Yes folks, I've set up the new site, which has the delicious URL of:
http://londondestruction.angelfire.com
That will be London Destruction's new home from 26 October 2009. At least that's what they tell me. It's a sad farewell to those Geocities mobsters, and I do thank them for everything.

Oh well, back to business, that being of the destruction of our lovable London. And as if to drown my sorrows, I was back onto the tube again, visiting many stations on a big photographic spree. On my travels I saw, somewhere, one of those 'knife arches' in a tube station forecourt, you know, a metal detector for knives. Police were channelling obvious suspects through the arch, like little old ladies etc, and then searching them like they were in an episode of the Sweeney. I didn't get thrown up against the wall and patted down rather dramatically, which is a shame really as it would have been fun to write about here. Maybe I should have done my 'Laughing Policeman' impression, ho ho ho etc to their face, and then got truncheoned. Or maybe not.

Yes, you people, I love the tube. It's like a real revelation of London life. A realistic revelation of revolting ramifications. Shame that in this mix of multi-cults we have to put up with officials that cannot speak English. No they cannot. Not at all. Not even going to try and shake off that heavy accent. This tube announcement was so shrouded in an accent from far-off-lands that everyone on the platform, no matter where they were from in the world, looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders in despair, and just carried on. I didnít find out what the announcement was. Maybe that the world was about to end. No doubt that Henry Higgins was not in charge here. Garbled, illegible, heavy accented, lazy, disinterested. And ubiquitous on the tube system. Getting onto the tube train, however, we were met with a perfect English announcement from the driver at 120 decibels that shook the wax from my ears and dry cleaned my shirt of dust. Good grief.

Shame to see the death of one of the free newspapers available every evening but lets face it they were almost the same as each other with the same adverts. And with less papers come less fire hazards, because what begats the mindset of just dumping these papers anywhere and everywhere on the tube system? Why do posh looking commuters just throw free papers on the floor or hide them above the hand rail? I always bag my papers and read them later, then recycle them. I definitely donít leave them in a large combustible pile at the bottom of the escalators. Goodness, some commuters are so thick. But with less papers around there will be less of the moronic masses reading them on the tube. Most tube coaches these days are very underfilled because people with outstretched papers and books take up about 10% of the standing room. Little twitchy fidgets who cant travel without their reading and mp3 player and food supply and sneezing. Ban it all. Yesterday, I'm in a sardine special tube trip, some absolute idiot crushed between bodies but STILL trying to turn the pages of his smelly free paper. I'm sure he must have left some printed images on people's white shirts.

Oh well, onto architecture, before I go or you all get bored to death. It's supposed to be the bulldozer time for the Heygate Estate near the Elephant, I'll be making a trip there if I can. Love the idea that Prince Charles got involved in the Chelsea Barracks thing, and I have seen the earth mounds that were once a cornerstone home to the empire's finest, beaten senseless by the developers. Program on TV called Saving Britainís Past which has some good anti-Developer credits at the start but then goes on to be rather limp wristed, and this week was dedicated to that bunch of buffoons at English Heritage and their £multi million pointless gutting of some Sheffield sink estate. Oh gawd. At this stage I had not done a recce to the crossrail at TCR, has anyone been there recently? We donít need Crossrail, we just need double tube lines for express tubes, just like in New York. Oh yes, and South Kensington is a mess, new road system, roads blocked off, what a waste of money.

That's all folks. Thanks for reading this. I love you all. Donít forget to log the new URL. Bye.

Aug 2009 Your Country Needs YOU 
Hello readers, welcome to my journal. And its a sad few months of this website as we standby to change hosts. A great shame that those boys and girls of Yahoo donít let myself and my site remain hosted for free forever. Címon, I donít use up that much space! And we are fighting the limitless revenues of big business developers after all. Oh well, more time wasted. I'll let everyone know when the new URL is up and running. In the meantime, so far I have escaped the Black Death I mean swine flu, everyone here in London is wearing surgical masks and anyone that sneezes has to carry a bell around their neck and is shunned by society. Bring out yer dead, as they say here in London. A white cross upon my chamber door.

Managed to escape to New York for a few days, and it always is rather refreshing. Architecturally stunning, and like London, has it's battles with developers, both now and in the past. Luckily, there is still so much that isnít modernised, so I might suggest you get over there as soon as possible. There are so many backstreets that have houses so wildly decorated on the exteriors, absolutely gorgeous. Did the Rockerfeller Roof at long last, a fab view, but wait, why is most of the roof area interiors painted white. Were they never modelled in the height of art deco? I cant believe how dreadful it all was. And to cop it all, the 360 degree view at the top seems to have been trashed in favour of an elevator housing! Why? For access? Just how far do we have to destroy buildings in favour of this. This idea is nearly as bad as the new accessibility lifts for the St Pauls Cathedral dome in London. Ridiculous. Anyway, the Rockerfeller view made up for the loss, I suppose. Ok, maybe it didnít.

I enjoyed the subway in NYC, as I do the London tube, and it really is a superb place to study a civilization and their most orderly behaviours. There is a lot more begging on the trains, a lot more impoverishment speeches to a captive audience. The gossip was great fun, those New Yorkers donít mind revealing their life stories. Otherwise, I did a quick Ground Zero, praying in vain that they might still rebuild the WTC only taller, and did the rounds of some Stanford White compositions. Ultimately, my groans centred around one item: Why, in USA public toilets, is there a big gap around the toilet door so that anyone can look in and see what you are doing? Iím getting fed up sitting there doing my er thing and seeing people staring in at me. I mean, its just not cricket at all, is it?

Meanwhile, back in blighty again, only to see that rain had stopped play again. It all looked rather gloomy. I was back in town, with toilets that were sealed against prying eyes, if you could find a toilet that is. I was indeed rather elated to hear of those pathetic Bendy Buses being withdrawn at last, those ghastly Euro things that nobody likes. Itís still a long way to go before we can rid London of all the other Euro nonsense. Wheanmile(!) I didnít dare visit the Tottenham Court Road tube disaster area, aka Crossrail. I just cant look at that sick catastrophe. Heard we wuz getting a new Astoria type gig venue, but Iím not impressed. Onto the tube, nearly shouted ďIím back!Ē but instead nearly fell over when the tube driver Ďtried outí his new brakes and made all the passengers fly forward in mass momentum. Idiot. Then we arrive at next stop, the same driver gives us five seconds to get off, lest he try and close the doors on someoneís head for not being quick enough. And this is what we used to have train guards for. Are we listening, TFL? No... Oh well, goodbye everyone, may you live long and prosper.

July 2009 I'm Not One To Gossip, But... 
Oh well, welcome one and all to my slowly disappearing website as the host fades into the dust. Maybe one day I will be up and running as before. Apologies to all. So what's been happening? London was awash with subway strikes. Everyone was walking to work, or trying to walk, lest they be mown down by that most evil of killers, the bicycle rider. We all tried to evade them in vain. It didnt work.

Hot news was that it was time to hot foot it to Woolworths to get my usual supply of good decent and cheap stationary. Damn. That shop is no more. I loved Woolworths. It seemed that only I loved them dearly, and everybody else hated them. I used to buy many items from them, but my putrid offerings were not enough to save them. Sadly, there is nothing that will replace them. Looking around at the alternatives, they are often expensive, shabby, or useless. Damn.

On an architectural front, I visited that home of that rather splendid brainbox, Doctor Johnson, writer of the original english dictionary, around the backstreets of Fleet Street. What a creaking wonder of a place it is. Bravo for the Curators and the like for keeping at place going, it really was a fabulous den, and its been nicely refurbished. Which is more than I can say for the refurbed Whitechapel Gallery. What a horrible destruction job they have done there. Yuk! Did anyone dare say this was a sympathetic gutting and whitewash of the lovable old building? What a disgrace. And the steam cleaning of the exterior had dissolved any of its outward beauty. You cant even read the name above the door anymore, it being gold letters on white stone. How very artistic it isnt. I walked thru the miriad of doppler white rooms and imagined what it used to look like or could have look like and failed completely. Exit me, weeping.

Anyway, sorry everyone for the lack of news recently, and I hope to get back on the ball one year, but its all gone to pieces. I can tell you about my tube journeys of course, never a dull moment down there, what with all the swine flu victims sneezing in your face, and using your tie to blow thier nose. Anyway, the bliss of everyone being ill is that at least you can get a seat at last, and I sat down with a big fat smile on my face, relax and say ahhh! as I sit down slowly and carefully making sure that my fellow passenger on the same cushion does not bounce up in the air. Then I keep my arms and legs inward in a dignified courteous manner. Not so the other travellers. May they not take note of my gentlemanly actions. No. Elbows on the armrests, over the armrests, into my airspace and yes indeed, my chest. One started to rub the dandruff out of his hair - aargh - I got up, standing is much safer. Leaving the tube train, I have to walk on tip toes to avoid someone walking on my heels. Why humans cannot walk in close formation without walking on the heels of others is anybodyís business. Anyway, my heels were three inches up in the air, so up yours. What you gonna do now?

So, thanx for reading this rubbish as usual. I shall endeavour to write on and rehost this site, so watch out for the new URL when it comes. This host shuts down on 26 Oct 2009, which is sad, but they did host the site for free for 8 years, so its a big thanks to those big money grabbing geeks at Yahoo for doing so. Cheers!

June 2009 We're Changing Lodgings 
sorry all, but due to the host of this website going under, please standby for a new URL

April 2009 Surveillance Society 
Hello everyone, welcome to my horrid little journal. I'm just a poor man living in London Town. Living working sleeping eating in London, England. Ok, last month did indeed include a trip to the Natural History Museum, not just to see the excellent Darwin exhibition, but to also see what disturbed hands had done the museum as a whole, ie, how have they ruined it. This place was once such an important institution, world renowned centre of learned expeditions and historical artifacts. All housed in a victorian architectural masterpiece. Sadly, all this and more is being eroded and kicked out of this wonderful building, screaming kids running around looking for the next 'hands on' novelty to abuse. This dumbing down, a shameful exercise of most London museums, is sickening to behold. Anyone excelling in undignified stupidity should be banned from these places. And as for modernisation? To quote the assistant there: "We want people to forget this is a nineteenth century building" This was quite evident in a gallery marked 'Creepy Crawlies'. Why, that gallery was so dumb, you could have put a stuffed Dodo in there. Why are are our museums forced to cater for the lowest form of intellect? The screaming kids in there learnt nothing apart from how to break things and cause havoc. Looking up, you realise that this is all housed in a beautiful nineteenth century gallery, which once led the world in historical investigation. Oh dear, said Darwin, rolling in his grave.

Oh well, back on the tube, or London's subway or metro or underground. My feet dragging though mounds of litter. Yes, in London Town, people actually drop things onto the floor when they have finished with it. What do you mean you dont believe me? A sweet wrapper disconnects itself from the hand, and floats away onto the floor. Chewing gum is spat out and stamped on. Free newspapers are put to rest on the ledge behind the seat, or maybe left on the seat. I kid you not. Sometimes, the pit where the tube rails are is used as a giant dustbin. Incredible behaviour, I hear you gasping. I do apologise in advance to any visitor to this fair city. You might not like what you see

March 2009 Revolting Peasants 
Greetings Pop Pickers. Welcome to my Journalistic pages. Now, where was I? Made a nice architectural trip to Greenwich, just to check out those wonderful buildings, those that aint been modernised that is. Ahh, that wonderful Queens House, another Inigo Jones speciality, although rather deviod of furniture, was rather splendid. The Maritime Museum however, was a shadow of its former entity, being so upgraded and mutilated as to be unrecognisable, well, apart from the facade, but isnt that always the case with great old buildings? Inside, the whole thing is geared to PC ideals and kids. Oh dear.

Meanwhile, back on the tube, my favourite place to seek out lack of civilisation, where the supposed gentille folk of London reveal their true and grotesque selves. I must say that I encountered this act of continued tyranny amongst some male travellers of sitting with their legs far apart, as if a giant invisible beach ball was between their thighs. Most undignified. Seen a lot of this in recent years. The 'legs apart' bloke next to me had his knee touching mine, a circumstance from which I retreated forthwith. Do they all have giant testicles making this necessary? Maybe not, I've noticed a lot of ladies sorry females asuming this same pose. Oh well. Looking further down the car, I saw the usual results of wanton vandalism to the tube carriage and seats. Feet on seats. Food on seats. Dogs on seats. Another window had something rather rude etched into glass. Oh well. Anything goes now. No law and order, no dignity.

Looked upon my London, seeing it still undergoing change for the worst. But none of it is progress on my terms. Lovely old buildings and traditions continue to be destroyed. This town and also these beloved Isles find their natural flow interrupted by the pressures of other triats and politics and religions that guarantee to take this land back to medieval times or beyond. It's a burden we have to suffer, and suffer we do. So, until next time, keep the home fires burning.

February 2009 Never Had It So Good 
Hello everyone in the whole wide world. Another edition of Charles Dairy. Here we go. Well, London was in the grip of deep snow and recession fear, it was all looking rather bleak. But I just had to carry on regardless. Seeing London in a blanket of frozen white powder was good for about five minutes, until you realise that we have no infrastructure to cope, mainly because there is no profit in it for the local councils. So everything ground to a halt, until government coughed up a few pennies in order to clear the snow and get things moving. I assume some dignitary needed to travel then...

And so, last months architectural journey, another trip to the ill fated Astoria & Crossrail project near Tottenham Court Road Tube Station. Here I found the many workmen who were sealing off huge areas of this important crossroads so they could start demolition work on this age old area and spoil more of London for this absolutely wasteful project. I mean, just how much of London are we supposed to see destroyed just to make way for more and more modernisation and extra services? Just how many people is London supposed to infinitely accommodate anyway? We dont need any more changes to the system, and definately no changes to this station. I was even more horrified to learn that it's not just the Astoria which will be killed off in this area, but in fact the whole corner block opposite Centre Point. The poor old Dionysus fish & chip shop lay in ruins. This shop is at the front of an ancient block of victorian buildings, some of which are labelled 1889 at the rooftop. The upper floor architecture of these buildings is astoundingly beautiful. Were they really going to just destroy it all? All the shops there were abandoned. The workmen seemed to think it was all going to be levelled. Personally I couldnt believe it. Save these buildings. Death to Crossrail!

Oh dear. Anyway, upon the snowbound subway train this morning, I found the usual dregs of society, fighting for pole position on this skeleton service. As usual, nobody was giving way, nobody was being polite. At least there were no free newspapars around, or was that them, the papier mache mess that was on the floor? Travellers looked as glum as ever: Those that travel prefer thier own fantasy worlds of i-pod music, or heads buried in novel. Some even took to tedious Soduku puzzles. Dismounting the tube train, I see that some people continue with their reading, walking perilously close to the edge of the platform, mind still on that novel or moronic puzzle. Maybe one eye is on the book, and the other glances occasionally at the way ahead. Cant they stop reading for just a moment. Someone asks me for directions, but he cant hear my answer until he makes a grab for his i-pod wires, removing the earpieces with one foul stroke. Amazing. I followed the hoards to the exit, most were not looking up from their reading material. And then, out into the snowy wastes, umbrellas abound, and here we find my old enemy, the brolly spoke, where Londoners attempt to take your eye out with the pointy edge of their umbrella weapon, and as ever, nobody gives way to anyone. I make it, here to my desk, and ready for action. If only Boris could see me now...

So, thats it folks. Thanks for reading my journal. Goodbye for now.

January 2009 Assault with a Deadly Feather 
Ah, there you are. Welcome to yet another year in the history of this this once wonderful town of ours. London. And another year in the history of this website. Since 2001, I have been moaning and groaning on here about what I see and hear. And this year will be no different no doubt. So welcome to my website, and thanks for reading this.

And so it was just the other day that I took a trip to see the poor old Astoria Theatre in Charing Cross Road, now definately in line for some rather horrid demolition work on the horizon. Just for that rediculous Crossrail project. I mean, just how much of London's past do we have to destroy just to make way for supposed modernisations. Dont they know that a lot of people who use the congested tube were actually either working at or visiting places like the Astoria? If London is to be flattened to make way for Euro-style terminals then what would be the point of coming into town anyway, if all our favourite destinations are gone? I saw some great bands at the Astoria, it's a fabulous venue, with good history. I guess I just paid my last respects to it.

Well, my visit to see the Astoria was on a sunday, and that meant that everywhere I went in that area smelt so bad of urine. All these rotten pubs and clubs everywhere, it must have smelt better even in Dickensian times, but I think there are similar lowlifes around now, albeit less glamourous than the Artful Dodger. What a stinking hole the West End is. Just then, and at 11am of all times, a stretch limo full of pissed chavs roared passed, with the usual line up of wags standing up through the top hatch. I was waiting for one of the birds to moonie out of the window, perhaps to show off her thong and spotty posterior, but it didnt happen. To think that once these vehicles were once reserved for the rich and famous. Worse than Bendy Buses.

Here, in frozen London Town, I put my name and details on yet another nasty database, well you have to nowadays, for just about everything. And thanks to the data protection legislation, this info is read and cross referenced by just about anyone who would want to destroy you, or at least label you, maybe make a minority report on you. Even Orwell would roll in his grave if he knew how bad things have got. Sure, I'm on London's Tfl Oyster card database. Nectar Card, Mobile phone, Election register, NHS, tax, CCTV. And then theres all my internet use. Right here and now I am tracked, automatically profiled. Watched. ID cards soon, maybe forced implants later. Why the obsession in having us all tracked and profiled down to ones smallest subconcious thoughts? And who are these humans that have access? You can see the investigations played out on TV, Spooks, CSI, Enemy Of The State. Instant access to any database they like, and making decisions on your life. I dont want these creeps knowing anything about me. They are more twisted and insane than the worst criminals.

Oh dear, one last thing: I choked on my Corn Flakes when I saw the results of the 'New Routemaster Design Competition' Oh no; What was this? Ok, what does all this money and hard work produce? Oh no... A load of clumsy Euro-bus type designs which are NOT the Routemaster and have nothing to do with reclaiming it. It's just another shambolic lie, Euro buses painted red. Here is your Routemaster, back on the streets and hey, room for 20 wheelchairs and prams on each bus, with automatic doors that close onto your head. Idiots. I want to take the blueprints of the original 1950's Routemaster and force Mayor Boris to eat them. He can read them later when they exit his carcass. All we need in the old design with the latest engines, just like the upgraded ones we had before Ken got rid of them in his 'Only a de-humanised moron would get rid of the Routemaster' initiative. Like the ones running now on Route 9 as a token tourist trap. Just build few thousand of these to spec. We have the money! They always find the money from somewhere. If I hear that they've bought a load of red Euro buses from Germany and are calling them 'Routemasters', I'm gonna burn down City Hall on November 5th. Bastards! Oh well, I'm off. Goodbye everyone, and thanks for your custom. Happy new year!

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