30 September 2009

I’ve been a fan of all things Swedish for some time now, ever since I spent six months there in 2003 (that makes me feel old). So I have been surprised not to have attended the Scandinavian pop night Scandipop before last night. I went with a friend (who was late) but also met a couple of friends there for some live music from BWO, a.k.a. Bodies Without Organs, a Swedish “laptop pop” trio in the style of Army of Lovers with a quirky humourful poppyness and recent hits including Chariots of Fire, and Sunshine in the Rain.

I just thought I’d share a few pictures of BWO from last night.






A la carte

25 September 2009

I’m writing from the departure lounge at St Pancras station waiting for the 16:25 departure to Paris. A while ago my partner realised he would be working in the South East of England on Friday and Monday either side of this weekend. We originally contemplated a weekend in Canterbury. But then quickly realised it’d be just as cheap to pop under the Channel to Paris for a short weekend break (as Bridget Jones put it: A Mini-Break means true love). With the help of my Nectar Card my return ticket cost me just £50, and my partner will join the train at Ashford. So what’s the plan for Paris? primarilly to sit in cafes, drink coffee, eat croisants and soak up a bit of Parisian autum. What more could a boy want from this Indian summer?


21 September 2009

Yesterday was the London SkyRide (previously known as the Hovis Freewheel, when it had a different sponsor obv). I must say I enjoyed it. Having the chance to cycle through central London without traffic (except, worryingly, the odd ambulance being let through) was a great experience. I’d never ever voluntarily cycle along the Embankment north of the Thames when traffic’s using it – it’s like the M6 at rush hour, but moving faster.

Even had chance to take some photos:



Dave Hill at today posted on the Skyride:

I went with my seven-year-old daughter, a child whose bike-riding displays a confidence her competence does not always justify. We arrived at around 10.30, soon after the start, and joined the route at its most easterly point, Tower Hill. The first 15 minutes were revelatory: a spin into blissful, if remote, urban possibility.

Did it last? To find out, read on. After that, try Cycling Weekly suggesting that Sky should run the railways too, and Real Cycling which was uneasy with the “implied message that cycling round London can only be done once a year with the help of heavy sponsorship, police cooperation and road closures.” Then there’s photos and anecdotes from blogger Richard Lartey, videos collected by Vinny, and a Guardian photstream. And finally, a Tunnel Bore. (see Dave’s post for all links)

Some food for thought. In Bogota, Colombia they basically do this every single Sunday. Every Sunday until 2pm one of the main traffic thoroughfares is closed off and people can cycle, run and rollerblade as they please. It’s called Ciclovía.

It’s an accepted part of Bogota life that it’s just a little more difficult to get around on Sundays (I know this because the road happens to lead to one of the City’s major hospitals and getting home from there early one Sunday after breaking my ankle salsa dancing the night before (don’t ask) was a nightmare – they wouldn’t let any taxis through to the hospital). Nevertheless it’s a brilliant experience and one many people take the opportunity to participate in.

In London we have the embankment north of the Thames from Westminster to the Tower – who on earth needs to use this on a Sunday? Why not close it off every Sunday (or at least once a month) and encourage people to get out and enjoy cycling along this road that the rest of the week is stuffed with cars and shrouded in smog? If the Colombians can do it, surely we can too, and not just once a year with massive sponsorship, police roadblocks and tunnel boom boxes.

Thames & Tube

20 September 2009

I’ve had such a busy week I haven’t had the time to report on one on this week’s best map-related story. “Mild furore” was the way the rumours started to spread in the twittersphere and blogospehere early Monday and by Tuesday had spread to mainstream news and resulted in a U-turn by Wednesday.

What am I talking about? The decision to remove the River Thames (and the ‘zones’) from the London Underground map.

Npw you see it:

Now you don’t:

Let’s start by talking about rivers: rivers aren’t just a place where water slows, they’re a geogrphical feature of the landscape. In a city where you have a river – especcially where it’s a large river – it’s an essemtial means of orientating yourself: am I north, south, east, west, close to the river, far away, where is it in relation to me… In London there’s the added “norf/sarf” dimension – people who have strong views on which side of the river is best to live (before you ask i’m a north of the river person). The river not only flows through the city but flows through it’s history. It’s shaped the city physically more than any other feature.

So the decision to remove it from the tube map shows an ignorance of how people interract with space. What’s the purpose of the tube map? You look at it to work out where you’re going to, and where you’re coming from. How do you orientate yourself with a) no index, b) no zones and c) no river unless you already know exactly on the map where your station is? And if you do why look at it?

Of course TfL had a point the the map had become cluttered and they were reverting to the purpose of Harry Beck’s original. And there are other arguments for the sudden evaporation of the Thames: the underground map is schematic (it doesn’t represent geographical reality), and when you’re underground it really doesn’t metter where the river actually is.

Harry Beck redesigned the map from the spaghetti scrawl that existed before into something that mis-represented geography but – more importantly – into something which easilly showed lines and connections so people could see where they’re going to, and from, easilly. But it’s removal shows a misconception of the Underground map as art, rather than a functional information-giving tool.


Further reading: Mark Easton’s fantastic blog this week looks at rivers on underground maps around the world. Ianvisits found historical film footage which provided an interesting theory on why the Thames may have been drained.

Tube Anagrams

20 September 2009

I must confess I am a total map geek… I love maps, the way they show things, the history of maps… I guess it’s only natural for a town planner!

One of the more unusual maps I recently discovered is a Tube Anagrams map. Fabulously irreverent with place names like Swelled Injunction, Ink Burp Lark, Castrate Angel and Queer Spank it doesn’t give y you the new way of looking at things the I like from maps but it certainly makes you wonder why odd place names you see are quite so odd, and how much odder they could be!


M-eat and Greet

11 September 2009

I seriously believe that Jo Davis is an absolute twit. Have a look at this story:

“Parents at a Kent primary school are angry that a sheep hand-reared by pupils is to be slaughtered for meat.” the school council, made up of 14 seven to 11-year-olds, voted 13 to one in favour of slaughtering the animal, using the proceeds to buy more animals (pigs, from which sausages will eventually be made). What a brilliant lesson. “You know that McDonalds burger son, that was once a cow”, or “your Chicken McNugget once clucked” and “that meat with mint saice was once cute and fluffy and went baa”. It’s important to know what you’re eating, where it came from and what it was.

But not Jo Davis: “I feel this is the same as my daughter coming home from school to find her pet rabbit bubbling away on the stove in a stew. My daughter was told it was no different to buying lamb from the supermarket. I really don’t think this is the same thing.”

Erm, why not? Because you have to realise that it was once alive?

I’m not going to get into the question about why this is even in the news (I guess not a lot happens in Kent?), but I am going to repeat what I firmly believe. IF YOU CAN’T BEAR TO THINK WHERE YOUR MEAT COMES FROM, YOU SHOULDN’T BE EATING IT!


6 September 2009

What a busy time of it I’ve been having. Copenhagen. Stockholm. And last weekend: Manchester. It was my first time at Manchester Pride – I’ve been to plenty of Prides in my time, and I’ve been to Manchester many times before too. But never the two together.

So I thought I’d share some of my favourite photos from Manchester Pride with you…









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