A history of London's A-Z. Thanks Gareth.
Clip from The London Nobody Knows (thanks David).
When I started I like I made a policy decision not to write about things I don't like (which I've mostly stuck to). It's too easy to fall into the Mr(s) Angry trap and there's so much negative stuff around I didn't want to add to that. However, as it's I like's birthday month I thought I'd take a bit of time off and get all the things I don't like out of my system. Then we shall never speak of them again. There are things I'm sure that no one really likes (Jeremy Beadle sprang to mind) so I haven't included them but what really interests me are things that sit on the periphery of being liked, periodically knocking on the door trying to get in. Everyone must have their own - something that someone raves about that you feel you should like but just can't get into. The rest just get on my wick. As follows:
olives, aniseed, people who walk and read books at the same time, Nicolas Cage, Frank Skinner, The Libertines, conservatories, decking, personalised number plates, personification of fruit, potholing, Dairylea lunchables, embossed toilet roll, hydrangeas, pastel colours, The Impressionists, Belle de Jour, slugs, frogs, Jack Kerouac, Richard Brautigan, Sgt Pepper, paperback books that are just that bit too big, pierrots, Charlie Chaplin, cowboy boots, high heels, waiting, not knowing, hot weather,
fig rolls, fly cemeteries, changing the duvet cover, going to bed early, stupid fancy sandwiches, things that aren't what they say they are, whingeing, Prada, Louise Vuitton, spin, legwarmers, ra-ra skirts, shirts tucked into trousers, trousers tucked into socks, novelty socks, novelty ties, socialising, rugby, rudeness, reggae, The Godfather, professional parents, working, running, vanilla, marzipan, Bulgaria, anything oversize, 4-wheel drives, 3 wheeled-prams, foldaway bicycles, Westerns, Radio 1, Radio 4, anything with aliens, anything with elves, Lord of the Rings, walnuts, biros, pointless cover versions, peacocks.
I came round to fig rolls during the plain biscuit renaissance in March. I wrote this about a year ago so would now add:
Malcolm Gladwell, Sarah Beeny, The Pipettes, Lost, most modern art, Is it Just Me Or Is Everything Shit? (and the general crapness agenda), this modern obsession with en suite bathrooms, what's happening to post offices, interactive museums, Leonard Cohen, yummy mummies, meanness, and hexagonal Smarties tubes.
There is a nice piece in the Guardian (via things) about The London That Nobody Knows, a 1967 film by Norman Cohen which features James Mason wandering through bits of (then) disappearing London. It was an inspiration to Saint Etienne's film Finisterre and presumably to Patrick Keiller's London which came in between. All include lots of disappearing (or disappeared) loveliness - specialist shops, old signs, formica cafes etc. As Bob Stanley says "There was a sense of now or never" which I can totally relate to. In the 2 weeks since I took pictures in East Kilbride, this church hall (above) is down for demolition and the minor door on my fave double-entry combo has been bricked up. It sometimes feels like recording these things is a final kiss of death, but it's good to know they've been preserved in memory at least.
I couldn't see a date on this article but the films don't seem to be on at the Barbican this weekend. Also can't see The London Nobody Knows on DVD but here are two more articles from/about Bob Stanley and the films: Remember Lea (2005) and The Naked City (2003). Also worth looking out for is the Disappearing London series which was on ITV London, now repeated on Sky. Presented by Suggs it covers some amazing surviving shops, buildings, cinemas, caffs (including an interview with Adrian Maddox and Lorenzo Marioni in the New Piccadilly). It's excellent that London is so well documented, but sad the rest of the country isn't in the same boat. Cameras at the ready, one and all.
I like is 4 this month. Don't know which date exactly, but it was September 2002 that I pushed the button and this website was born into the world. I remember the early days - a great feeling of terror, like I was exposing myself. Violent attacks of cringing which I still get today. You know how hard it is to hear yourself on tape, or watch yourself on film? That kind of feeling. But every year I feel a bit more comfortable with it.
In 4 years I've changed job, moved house, and had another baby but it doesn't feel like much has changed. Well, it has and it hasn't. I like was never supposed to be a blog. I didn't know what a blog was when it started. It was supposed to be like a sort of online junk shop. Something catches your eye, you stumble in and find this world of disconnected stuff. I guess that still stands. I meant to do more specials, but they take time. I'm ashamed that there are at least two that were reasons for doing the site in the first place (the UN Building and paperback covers) that 4 years later I still haven't finished. But that's one thing I like about doing this, it's more or less impossible to plan.
This year I've worked behind the scenes to make it easier to write - because you've got to have a system. Going bloggy in May was good. Then the del.icio.us links, which might not be very polished but they help me keep things going when otherwise there would be nothing for days. This year I've written some things that were hard to do. It might sound strange when there wasn't anything controversial or revealing but basically anything here that isn't a list of links is hard for me to write. I'm not a natural orator. When I thought about The Great British Holiday I argued with myself for days thinking no one would want to read it, but in the end writing it was really good fun, and it went down okay. So that's my one piece of advice to anyone starting a blog - write what you want to write. I should do that more often.
The main thing to say, as I blow out the candles on another cake, is thanks. Thanks to everyone who has visited, linked, commented, and emailed over the years. It makes this a really enjoyable thing to do and as long as I like writing it, I like will still be here.
After casting aspersions on East Kilbride's climate, yesterday was a beautiful day, perfect for a walk through The Murray. This was the first part of EK to be developed. I am intrigued to know why The Murray is called The Murray, with the definite article. It's called that officially, on roadsigns and stuff, like The Gambia. But more intriguing are these double doors, seen throughout East Kilbride. Look, here's two more.
They both lead into the same house, but different rooms. As opposed to two doors into the same room, like The Beatles in Help. There was something similar on one of these post-war housing programmes on BBC Four, but for the life of me I can't remember the justification for it. I think the architects (can't remember who they were either; doing well here) said it was something about making better use of the space at the back of your house. Or something. Not wasting it on a kitchen. So the kitchen's at the front, and obviously a kitchen needs a kitchen door. But there's still a back door (just the one) which must bring about a bit of confusion when someone comes a-knocking.
As most have been converted into one big doorway (with a normal size door, not a mega one) it suggests that it maybe wasn't the best idea. But it's nice that they tried. East Kilbride was a new town built with this kind of spirit - looking at how people live and trying to make it better. There must have been a real sense of optimism when it was built. Can you imagine how exciting it must have been to come and live here with your two front doors?
I've been adding photos of Westwood to my East Kilbride Flickr set. There's a little estate there, I'm not even sure what it's called - the Windward Estate, possibly. Anyway, it's lovely. Little coloured houses, all in a row. A bit like the Span houses in Kent. It's sort of on my way to work (by sort of, I mean not really, but I'm willing to go out of my way) and catching a glimpse of it every morning sets me up for a good day. This general area is Roddy Frame's old stamping ground - the Westwood he sings about in Somewhere in my heart. The rest of the houses are fairly normal though. If he'd grown up in these ones I imagine Aztec Camera would have sounded more like OMD.
So I've decided that the the archaeology of East Kilbride is my new project. I go through there every day and would like to know more about it. I'm intrigued by the ideals and planning that created it. Are any of you from EK? I'd love to know what it's like to grow up in a new town. I'm planning some more photo trips whenever I've got a day off and the weather's decent - could be a long wait knowing the EK climate. Plus some proper research with the archives at the council and everything, but does anyone have any EK inside knowledge that they'd like to share first? Anyone looking for an overview should check out East Kilbride, Scotland's first new town.