A brief Thursday morning walk along the Thames from Greenwich heading east, dressed over-optimistically in shorts and t-shirt. Before the rain set in properly I managed to get a few shots looking along the river towards the Dome, and the thought occurred that these views may not last too much longer, if development on the west side of Greenwich peninsula picks up pace as it has on the eastern side. The power station jetty endures, though, and long may it do so.
A combined failure of Southeastern Trains (derailed freight train near Lewisham) and the Jubilee line (failed train at Stratford) scuppered my plans to go into town and meet a friend for lunch; instead, turfed out of North Greenwich station, I took a walk around the northern tip of Greenwich peninsula and found myself at Victoria Deep Water Terminal.
One of a small number of protected wharves, the Deep Water Terminal is used for – as far as I can tell – loading and/or unloading of aggregates; it’s an entirely different world from the O2 arena around the corner, Canary Wharf over the river, and the new flats that are (slowly) appearing around the rest of the of the peninsula. Long may it run.
The Thames pub on Norway Street, Greenwich. I’ve been trying to find out what’s happening with this boarded up pub, but Greenwich council’s planning website has defeated me. The Greenwich Phantom wrote about it back in 2009 (and pointed out how difficult it is to Google), and more recently in 2014, but the last I heard, it was due for demolition and replacement with (more) flats. It’s a real shame, as – particularly given how many new developments have gone up in that corner of west Greenwich in recent years – it should make a good neighbourhood pub with plenty of potential customers on the doorstep. If you know any more about the plans leave me a comment – I’d love to hear the latest.
UPDATE 1st DEC 2016 from @greenwichhour
@neilclasper Apparently the sale fell through and it returned to the market a couple of months ago seeking offers in the region of £1.5 mil.
— (((Greenwich Hour))) (@GreenwichHour) December 1, 2016
Has anyone got a spare £1.5m?
UPDATE 7th DEC 2016 via From The Murky Depths blog
“Developers are proposing to demolish the former Thames Inn“. How depressing.
Lot of gigs with my band; though as ever there were runs of too many then too few gigs. Highlights of the gigging year:
- A freezing cold New Year’s Day afternoon in Greenwich Market where it seemed half of Greenwich had braved the weather to come out to watch us.
- The Brooklyn Bowl (in the O2 Arena!).
- Playing at The White Swan in Charlton village not longer after it re-opened and having Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze join us for the second set. Amazing how everyone steps up when you have actual professional musicians in the band.
After an early-in-the year wobble about my proficiency as a lead guitarist I got to a point where I feel I’m at least good enough for the level I’m playing, and that realisation seems to have led to an improvement in my playing through the year. I’m never going to be Roy Lanham, but good enough is good enough.
Photography: I didn’t take as many photos as I usually do, and I feel a bit as though my photographic chops have suffered as a result. Next year I promise myself I’ll get out and take more. I am very happy with the Fuji X100t I bought earlier in the year; 2016 could well see me sell off my Nikon gear in favour of another Fuji body to go with the lenses originally bought for my X-E1. However hard I try I’m never as happy with the files from the D7100 as from the Fuji cameras. Mostly, though, I need to make the time to make photographs.
I bought more records than was probably financial sensible and played them on my new secondhand Technics turntable, to great satisfaction. Should have bought it ages ago.
Work was up and down, in the way that work often is. Completed a year of working in Canary Wharf: so far the convenience of getting between desk and home in half an hour is outweighing the many downsides of working in a bland, privatised compound. It doesn’t pay to think too hard about how convenience trumps all sorts of things we otherwise would say we value.
After a trip to Cornwall over the summer we managed a foreign holiday for the first time in years (and my daughter’s first ever trip abroad), which worked very well; lovely to get some October warmth before the British winter kicked in.
I didn’t manage to do a great deal for our local community website, The Charlton Champion, but I did manage to persuade one of our local councillors to write a piece, which – in a borough where the council leadership tightly controls its news coverage by publishing a weekly newspaper – felt like a useful achievement. Hopefully that’s a vaguely positive sign for next year. Also, a piece on late opening at Charlton Lido was shared on Facebook 200+ times: a personal record by a factor of many.
On swimming, I managed to go to Charlton lido pretty much weekly, sometimes more, enjoying year round opening. A vow to swim at least 1km every visit went by the wayside when I realised there wasn’t quite time to do that many lengths while my daughter had her swimming lesson, but who cares? I extended it to a mile a few times, and now know I can do that easily with enough, which felt like a decent achievement for someone who’s gone through most of his life to date without bothering much with exercise. Better still was the pleasure of watching my daughter learn to swim and enjoying the lido.
There was much besides, of course; some good, some not so good, and though it’s still a sad and beautiful world, I’m looking forward to 2016. Thanks for reading.
I was commuting into Cannon St station at the time, then usually going down to the tube to get a District or Circle line train – getting off at Aldgate on the rare occasions that the latter turned up, but that morning, like most, walking from Tower Hill and collecting my breakfast on the way.
I’m pretty sure I was in the office lift when the bomb went off; I didn’t hear it but other people on the 1st floor did. Our desks looked out into Aldgate tube, but no one saw anything obviously amiss. The office was quiet; it was reasonably early and delays on the Northern line were affecting a lot of my colleagues. A few minutes after I arrived, a colleague walked in and said that ‘something was going on’ and that there were emergency services outside the Tube. A couple of minutes after that the fire bell was ringing and we decided to evacuate. Outside the office was a sort of calm chaos: the traffic jammed up except for what seemed like an unbelievable number of emergency vehicles of all varieties, all with sirens wailing.
We couldn’t get to the official mustering point outside the tube entrance so turned left and climbed over the horrible pedestrian barriers, and crossed Middlesex St – the divide between EC3 and E1; the City and the East End – and wound through the traffic, headed for Brick Lane in lieu of any better idea. There were probably 7 or 8 of us at this point, most of us having worked together for a few years.
We had breakfast in a cafe off a mostly deserted Truman’s Yard (this was a couple of years before Shoreditch really consumed Brick Lane), and still had little idea what was going on, or what we should do. Our phones stopped working around this time though most of us had managed to let people know that we’d been evacuated from our office.
At this point the chronology becomes a little hazy. In some order we made our way to another of our company’s offices off Gt. Eastern Street to make contact with other colleagues; this involved walking up a road lined with buses taken out of services. By this point we’d heard rumours of a bomb on a bus, and it was becoming obvious that something significant had happened; this walk by the parked buses was probably the most frightening part of the day. Once at the office it became clear there was no point hanging around, but we weren’t sure where to go next. Public transport had been taken out of service, and our group lived mostly in different parts of town. There seemed some sense in sticking together.
At some point we went to the ropey pub on Commercial St facing Petticoat Lane (its old name escapes me, but it’s recently re-opened as the much fancier Culpeper) to see if we could find out what was happening from their pub TV. After a while of not learning much – beyond the fact that there had been bombs on the tube and a bus, and the electrical overload explanation had been discounted – we decided that if we were going to have to walk home, we’d better get something to eat first, so went back round to Brick Lane and found a quiet curry house. One of the staff claimed to have seen bodies being carried out of a tube station, but something about his story didn’t quite ring true; like the kid in the playground who’s too eager to please with an exaggerated tale.
From there we couldn’t quite bring ourselves to set off home – there were three or four of us at this point heading for SE London – so we went to The Archer pub on Brick Lane in search of rolling TV news and, let’s be frank, beer.
The pub was busy and welcoming and we sat in the window trying, like everyone else, to work out what was going. Early reports of an electrical explosion had been demolished, but it was still unclear how many bombs there had been, and who may have been responsible for them.
At this point in the day (2pm maybe?) something remarkable happened. Office workers were starting to pour through the streets around Brick Lane, evidently having been evacuated from their offices and unable to go back into the City; most look worried, many looked lost. We began to notice people in high vis tabards approaching the lost – maybe 7 or 8 of them – worn, it turned out, by Scientologists seeking to ‘help and comfort’ the displaced commuters. After a few minutes of this unsettling sight a mixture of locals from all backgrounds combined to tell the Scientologists to “f*ck off out of Brick Lane”, which they duly did. An incredible moment, but one that’s lingered in the brain for a long time: how did the Scientologists get organised so quickly? Are they always there in the background waiting for these kind of incidents?
After a couple of pints (maybe more…) we decided to start walking back to Greenwich, setting off via Cable St; I remember trying to explain the Battle of Cable Street mural to colleagues who’d never seen it before. Not long afterwards the DLR came back into service, so we got on and made our way to Cutty Sark, cautious, hyped up a bit, grateful for public transport. In Greenwich we made for the Spanish Galleon pub and met more friends. By now the sun was out, and it was the sort of day that in other circumstances would have been rounded off at a pub along the riverside. A couple of pints later some of us set off to a friend’s house in Charlton; he’d been working from home and generously offered to make us dinner. Arriving at his house, the beer and shock combined to an odd state of near-euphoria. Once his next door neighbour, a Nelson-obsessive (there’s a lot of that about in Greenwich amongst a category of men of a certain age) started pondering “what would Nelson do to counter this new terrorist threat?”, everything became a bit hazy.
It seems a lifetime ago, and a different world – the lack of real-time mobile social media updates alone enough to make it hard to explain in 2015. We couldn’t get back in the office for a few days afterwards, but after a few days things got back to mostly-normal in a speed that – looking back – seems incredible.
And here, I suppose, should go some conclusions: what I learnt from the experience. But I’m not really sure that I did learn anything clear and concise, apart from the obvious – suicide bombers are bad, people will work together to help each out in strange situations, things aren’t necessarily as frightening when they’re going on as when you look back in hindsight, and so on. We were a lot closer to it than obviously we’d have liked, but I still can’t begin to imagine the trauma of those who were actually on the tube trains or in Tavistock Square when the bombs went off.