Saturday, 25 November 2017

Wandering the Steel City

Staying just outside of Sheffield for a few days provided the chance for a wander around the 'Steel City' with my partner. An 'alternative' city guide book provided by our hosts served as a starting point. It was split into sections for different 'quarters' of the city.  An odd term I always think, since there usually seem to be more than four of them. Sheffield originally had eleven according to Wikipedia and later a twelfth was  added from what I can gather. Confusingly, Sheffield also has four city centre 'districts'.  In Roman times cities were often divided into four actual quarters where presumably the term originates. I suppose more accurately calling an area the 'Devonshire Eleventh' might be more confusing but I think  would have a certain ring to it. Anyway, I digress. The guidebook provided enough inspiration to make up a very rudimentary checklist of areas/things we might incorporate into our wander which gave us a very loose plan. My partner was not really up for the idea of just wandering off in a random direction and seeing what happened in my usual fashion. Having had a cursory look at a map the night before, put an A-Z in the rucksack for emergencies and with combined vague memories of previous visits some years back, we caught a train to the Steel City armed with probably very different but equally unreliable mental maps.

Leaving the station at Sheffield we were confronted by the steel wall of the Cutting Edge sculpture. An 81 foot long graffiti proof water fountain, this is part of something called the 'Gold Route'. A series of spaces and streets incorporating public art, intersecting with both Universities and the main shopping 'spine', representing 'The Heart of the City'. We weren't aware of this formal route while we were there but our walk took us through its early stages. Had we not been heading for the Millennium Gallery anyway, I'm sure we would have found ourselves pulled in it's direction.

Along the way there was street art complimented by giant poems on the side of buildings, written by ex-poet laureate Andrew Motion and Ian McMillen (that bloke from 'the Verb' on Radio 3). The painting on the side of the building below is Harry Bearley , credited as being the inventor of stainless steel.

Sheffield Steel History Psychogeography

Poetry in Motion.....
In the Millennium Gallery we were confronted by an impressive sculpture of a sunflower made out of steel cutlery. While we were admiring it a very friendly woman approached and introduced herself as the former art teacher of the sculptor. We had no reason to doubt her. Following this brief encounter and chance connection with the object made of steel cutlery, which itself represented the city in some way (sunflowers, roots, rejuvenation??), we soon had a less than brief encounter with another Sheffield resident.

Sheffield Psychogeography

The man in question, it turned out, had worked in the steel industry in some capacity since he had left school, and was  a victim of its decline. In his 60s and baffled by the internet age, he had been left behind by technology after being made redundant.  I got the impression he was a frequent visitor to the cutlery room and would to talk to anyone who would listen about the industry, it's decline and his plight. The environment of the Millennium Gallery seemed to represent rejuvenation of the city and hope for the future.   This man was a living ghost of its recent past, haunting the cutlery room as an inconvenient reminder of the  washed-up and de-skilled. The cruel irony of all this was all too apparent. But he did go on. As we attempted to politely extract ourselves from his rambling monologue, he recommended the pubs of Kelham Island where he said he was heading later. A good pint of Barnsley Bitter could still be had, he said.

Between the encounter with cutlery man and the teacher, in another part of the gallery I saw an excellent exhibit about the journey of tomato seeds through the sewage system. Tomato seeds remain intact when they pass through the human digestive system, and during their journey through the sewage system, ending at waste dumps where the sludge is piled up and tomato plants thrive.  The main part of the exhibit was a film on loop depicting the journey of the  the tomato seed through the liminal civil engineered landscape.  The artist harvested fruit from some of the plants, had it checked out and found it was safe to eat so made some jars of  'Shit Chutney'.  More about this can be found at the artist Ruth Levene's website. Some of her other work covers maps, water and walking and is worth checking out.

Away from the gallery we found ourselves in a square featuring a temporary 'seaside' with fairground rides, stalls and somewhat alarming rubbish bins.

Psychogeography Sheffield Urban Wandering

A short distance from this we found ourselves in an area evidently in the process of 'development'. The Salvation Army had abandoned it's citadel. I didn't know the Sally Army had citadels. Such things sound a bit exotic for an organisation associated with Jesus, temperance and brass bands. But I liked the building and felt sad that it might be demolished to make way for something far less interesting. 

Near a car park and what was left of light industrial/workshop type buildings the other end of this street, a sort of army Captain was depicted, maybe a Salvation Army Captain as viewed by a less temperant member of the community. Maybe pointing in warning of both 'the drink' and of the bland shopping centre that the notices nearby showed planned for the area.

Sheffield Psychogeography

We had planned to visit the iconic bookshop Rare and Racy, but it turned out it had recently closed. Devonshire Road (in the 'Devonshire Quarter') was undergoing development. Jarvis Cocker from Pulp viewed the idea to close the shop as a crime and somebody the local paper asked said they would not walk down that stretch of road anymore. The street currently has a mixture of  coffee shops, restaurants, vintage clothes emporiums and a miscellany of other independent shops, but there is concern whether these will last before more bland development and more generic chain outlets move in. Same old story. I acquired a very fine suede jacket in one of the shops, getting a bargain and doing my bit to support them.

The woman who sold me the jacket said the area had some shops in the street could do with improvement. I'd noticed a Private Shop nearby and wondered if she had been referring to it. The chain of sex shops always seemed to locate in slightly less salubrious parts of town. We have one in Cambridge on Chesterton Road, which is another area currently undergoing a sort of post-hipster gentrification. I've often wondered how on earth such shops keep going in the age of the internet and relentlessly bland urban development. You'd have thought they would have declined at a similar rate to 'bramble mags' which, like white dogshit, you rarely see anymore.  While I'm not inclined to go into such places, I think as long as they exist they represent something 'other' and have the ability to make passers by feel a bit uncomfortable in their surroundings. As such they give two fingers to those who want to 'smarten up' areas to the point of sterility.

Not far from the vintage shop we saw a man my partner was convinced was on the 'zombie' drug 'spice' standing (just about) on a corner. Another man was sprawled half unconscious outside a pub. She maintained he must have been on spice too. It was hard to argue that the bloke may have just been very pissed considering the pub had only just opened and I don't doubt she was right. The contrast between the men out of their heads and the future aspirations of the encroaching developers on the  Devonshire Quarter seemed to symbolise the opposite and grim ends of the pole of contemporary urban development and (post) modern Britain in general.

The mural above was somewhere at the end of the road. The area has a good amount of streetart. This one done by Tellas, an Italian artist, was part of something called 'Feature walls' in 2016. The street art of the City is extensively documented on Street Art Sheffield, including a map which would be good for anyone wanting to conduct a 'street art' walk.

Soon after we found ourselves in the pedestrianised shopping area known as The Moor.  The link is actually for an article about 'The Moor Quarter' which presumably includes a slightly wider area. This is one of the major shopping areas in the City. It was good to see it thriving despite the presence of the out of town Meadowhall, which at one time was seen as a threat to city centre shops. I'm not a great one for shopping but if I have to a shopping street, without a roof over it, is in my view far preferable to an out of town covered 'Mall' with its own security guards and terrible piped music. I went to Meadowhall on a geography field trip in the early '90s and found the experience profoundly uninspiring.

Across the road at the end of the street we walked past the giant brown ziggurat-like behemoth of the Moorfoot building dwarfing a small precinct of shops at its base. The building housed Civil Servants from various Government Departments until 2014. Now it's occupied by Sheffield City Council, following an abandoned plan to demolish it. The building dates from 1981 and originally had a staff restaurant, a rarity these days in the workplace and bar which is even rarer.

The other side of the building we crossed the inner ring road through an impressive underpass which I failed to photograph. Over the other side, at the end of London Road, the face above may have been trying to scare us off. I read somewhere later that London Road had a reputation for drugs and violence. We saw some rowdy football fans (there was a match on, one of the Sheffield football teams plays not far away), and a couple of dodgy looking blokes outside a pub. But a bit further down the road were newer coffee bars and restaurants opening.

Before we started down the road I was trying to photograph the Chinese Fireworks Company. I always seem to encounter establishments connected to fireworks on these walks. I only managed the effort below before my partner suggested we move on swiftly. She'd spotted Cutlery Man  in a nearby phone box looking for money or fag butts. We didn't have time for a second  prolonged encounter with him and luckily he didn't see us.

Just further up is a Sainsburys housed in what's left of a former cinema. The facade is retained but much of the original building was demolished as part of a development. The building had been used as a nightclub called Tiffany's in the 70's and more recently known as known as 'Bed' before closing down.

We were heading towards Abbeydale Road, a long stretch in the 'Antiques Quarter'. Unfortunately the splendidly named Rude Shipyard, the first shop we passed,was closed. The name made me wonder if the proprietor was an antique selling nautical version of Bernard Black from the TV comedey  'Black Books'.  The road contained various other antique/vintage/junk shops. There is also a cafe, said to be frequented by scooter boys and mods from the Ace Scooter Club but there was no sign of them when we went by, just a lady in a Sari. Maybe they had given up scooters, tonic suits and fry ups for expensive push bikes, beards and posh javas at the new cycling cafe nearby.

Rude Shipyard Sheffield

The splendid building below appeared pretty derelict from a distance. The Abbeydale Picture House dates from 1920. The original cinema closed in 1975 and was subsequently used as a furniture showroom and then a  snooker hall and bar. The building is listed and attempts were made to restore it by the 'Friends of the Abbey Dale Picturehouse' between 2003 and 2012, These 'friends' included Michael Palin and Peter Stringfellow, an alliance I am trying hard to imagine. According to wikipedia, in 2012 the venue hosted a stage version of Hi-De-Hi, an 80s sit com based on a Butlins-style holiday camp in the 50's. Later in the year the Friends went bust. Eventually the lease was acquired by the Sheffield based arts charity CADS which facilitates film screenings, music events and flea markets while restoration work and fundrasing continues to take place.

Picturehouse Sheffield Psychigeography

On the wall outside, a black fox. Not sure if a black fox is a similar portent to the Black Dog, or if this was some sort of warning sign or maybe a homage to a local beast? It turns out there are others painted on walls in and around Abbeydale Road. The artist and the motivation behind them appear to be a mystery, in the same vein as the 'Lewisham Natureman' White Stag in South East London or the Heron in Cambridge. Although in the latter case, the artist has spoken to the local press and has Facebook and Twitter accounts but attempts to keep  his identity hidden.

Street art black fox Sheffield

Further up we stopped in a vegan cafe for tea and cake. The cake selection was excellent, portions large and very reasonably priced. Fortunately we had finished when a woman came in and stated that ten of her friends would be turning up shortly, some with pushchairs and babies. The proprietor obligingly moved tables and chairs to accommodate their imminent arrival. The scraping of chairs on the floor and prospect of  the hubbub to come hastened our departure.

After a rummage round an impressive three story junk/vintage/antique emporium we took a right turn off Abbeydale Road with a vague intention to visit a vegan cafe for lunch, the name of which I can't remember but it had a good write up. It was too busy when we got there so we didn't bother. The nearby osteopath sported some novel advertising in the form of a skeleton, with what looked like immaculate bone structure and sporting some fine socks and a scarf.

A little further along, and up a bit of an incline, we passed these beehives in someones garden. I'm not sure if they were occupied or if Bob Marley and the Beatles have any association with bee keeping.

Lichen Sheffield Gate

After this there is something of a gap in my photographic record. The beehives, and the pictures above are from, I think,  the area called Nether Edge. We were heading for the Botanic Gardens where we thought we'd have a rest but went slightly of course and found ourselves in the evidently very popular Endcliffe Park. Ecclesall Road, which  runs along the south east corner of the park had been on the original hit list from the guide. I can't recall why exactly and we didn't walk down much of it in the end but I suspect I might have been hoping for a crafty beer in the Portland House micro-pub. We never got there. Wards Brewery was located along the road until 1999 and is now the sight of luxury flats (really?!). The old sign still stands. We didn't get there either.

Endcliffe Park is bisected by the Porter Brook. The name derives from the brown colour the water takes on after passing over iron-ore deposits, making it resemble dark beer.  Porter Brook rang a distant bell and the park felt familiar. I was fairly sure this was the place I visited on the geography field trip where I thought I'd broke £1000 worth of river velocity reading equipment. We'd followed the brook (I think it was the Porter) from a tributary out in the sticks and eventually were dropped off in what I'm sure was Endcliffe Park for our final reading. My memory of the park the first time was of somewhere much smaller and quieter. This time it seemed large, noisy and busy with ice cream vans and people playing football. It was good to see people outside doing things.

After a meander through the park, we found ourselves in a part of town that seemed to be a University area, with large houses and places that looked like halls of residence. The environment didn't change until we reached the Botanic Garden. The garden features an impressive pavilion building. There was a wedding going on in it so we couldn't go in. The gardens were more like a normal park than the Cambridge Botanic Garden and unlike the Cambridge version,  free to get in.

We headed back towards the centre through Nether Edge (I think). At some point, just before we crossed the inner ring road we could hear loud dub step type music getting progressively louder as we approached. Id assumed we were about to encounter a  gig in a park. But on side road there was a party going on and the music seemed to be coming from somebody's house.

After crossing the ring road we made our way through what looked like an ex-industrial area  against a ride of football fans heading home after the game. Stokes Tiles and similar buildings appeared abandoned but it being Saturday it was hard to tell.

After passing back through The Moor we found ourselves in the other main city centre shopping street, the other side of the urban seaside we'd visited earlier. It appeared a Tardis had parked.
We found ourselves back near the Millennium Gallery, and passed through Millennium Square. I was taken with the building at the back of the photo below and wondered what it was. It turns out it's the Charles Street Car Park, or 'The Cheesegrater'. In 2013 it was named as the third coolest car park in the world. Here's all ten.  By then the 'Get Carter' car park in Trinity Square in Gateshead had been demolished so was out of the running for such accolades. It made way for a new Trinity Square development which includes a very large Tesco Extra, and was nominated for the 2014 Carbuncle Cup. The Millenium Square was much more pleasant than anywhere with a Tesco Metro and far from a carbuncle. I'm not often impressed with these sorts of developments, and while it had some of the same features as countless others (Pizza Express etc), there was something different about it. Maybe it was the calming effect of the water flowing over the 9 steel balls.
The balls represent steel industry heritage (steel, craftsmanship, water, stonework). They looked more gold coloured than steel to me. This may have been a figment of my imagination or faulty eyesight.

Psychogeography Sheffield
Just before the station we passed the vulture mural below. In the other direction, from the front of the station you can see Park Hill. I wondered if the vulture mural might be a swipe at the re-development/renovation/sticking up coloured plastic bits being carried out by Urban Splash.  Similar to what has happened to the Trellick Tower in East London, luxury and upmarket apartments are being created in a Brutalist development inspired by Le Corbusier and originally a council estate. These dwellings, and those who lived there, would have been derided in the not too distant past as a problem. But these days they are highly sought after. Maybe it's better than them being torn down completely. But it does bring the expression 'social cleansing' to mind. Architects For Social Housing (ASH) have quite a bit to say about that.

I would have liked to have had a wander around Park Hill but we had to catch the train and were knackered. It's reputation in the past was not good. A friend of mine at Uni planned to do some research for his dissertation there but his mum wouldn't let him. He told me of incidents where people had heavy items thrown/dropped on them from balconies. So back then I probably would have avoided it. Whether it was really that bad, I don't know. And maybe going there now for a wander round would  be an act of heritage tourism and an insult to those being decanted out when their homes are demolished.

We also never got to Kelham Island for a pint of Barnsley Bitter.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Split perambulation: Croydon and London Bridge to Kings Cross

Having been sent to  Waddon for work, just a mile or two  South West of the centre of Croydon,  it seemed only sensible to get off the train at East Croydon and take the opportunity for a bit of ambulatory activity. I've only ever been to Croydon once before at the start of a walk along the River Wandle. I didn't recognise the station from my last visit. There was a lot more development going on since I was last here.

I'd arrived with the best part of an hour and a half to get to Waddon and find somewhere for breakfast. I left the station through a side exit and the vicinity immediately outside was devoid of much except for a Co-op so I kept going towards the main road (A12). Croydon is well known as being a place festooned with 60s office blocks which featured in abundance. Among these I noticed a particularly tall purplish skyscraper, a far more recent building called Saffron Square, a new residential development. It's had it's critics for it's design and for being marketed to overseas investors rather than providing much need homes for normal people (just for a change). But the height of it (43 storeys) and garish colour makes it visible from most of the rest of Croydon and probably beyond  so at least it was a handy reference point.

I walked up the main road and passed Lunar House, a large white building housing the Home Office immigration/visa centre where people wanting to apply for a visa in person have to come. Similar I guess to going to Peterborough for getting a passport but probably an even longer and more costly process. Last time I came to Croydon it reminded me a bit of Peterborough, particularly the shopping centre area. Both places are ones that are often derided. Both have been developed extensively in the 60s and 70s although Croydon much more impressively if you like brutalist architecture. Lunar House was built in 1970, along with nearby Apollo House, the names inspired by the 60s space programme. Apollo House is also the name used for the block of flats the main characters in the sitcom 'Peepshow' lived in. The actual block of flats used in filming for the exterior of their abode is Zodiac House. The green plastic looking interpretations of the signs of the zodiac above the entrance are bizarre. I don't remember seeing them in the TV show and I didn't pass Zodiac House while in Croydon which was a shame.

I'd mentioned the idea of mapping TV sitcoms based in London in a previous post and have since discovered, unsurprisingly, that i've been beaten to it. So hat's off to whoever plotted the google map. Purley, just up the road from central Croydon, was the setting for Terry and June in the 70s. More recently Croydon been the setting for a BBC 3 sitcom about the staff working in a Fried Chicken takeaway ('Fried') and for Jo Brand's comedy 'Going Forward'.

Further up the road I went past a sign for West Croydon and it felt like I was heading the wrong way out from the centre.  A quick map check confirmed that so I doubled back down a parallel road.
Masonic Hall
I thought this church a bit unusual. I didn't have time to stop and have a closer look, the need to find breakfast becoming more of a priority. A bit of post walk research revealed it is not a church but the headquarters of the Croydon Lodge of Freedom, a masonic hall.

I walked on, heading to what was referred to as the Old Town, and fairly soon came to a main road that I needed to cross to get to Waddon Road. I'd somehow managed to miss the Town bit of the Old Town or at least the bits with anywhere that sold breakfast so pressed on to the Waddon Cafe, a decent grease cafe in the proper tradition. On a corner along with a handful of other shops/takeaways that are facing a Morrisons over the road (not one that sells breakfast).

Meeting over, I headed back to East Croydon through suburbs after turning off at random somewhere on Purley Way. I followed a road alongside Duppas Hill, Croydon's first recreation ground and previously site of the Croydon workhouse. I was tempted to walk across it but this would probably have taken me in the wrong direction..not normally something that would worry me too much but I was a bit restricted on time.
Prior to crossing the A232 I passed these dilapidated looking garages. The doors didn't look quite right, as if they were made from cardboard.
Croydon subway underpass
Taking the  underpass crossing the A232,  I made an educated guess and came out in roughly the right direction to head back into the town. Not much further from here I passed a pub. It wasn't opened and it may not have been in business any longer. The frosted and patterned windows made it impossible to glance inside to see. But once all pubs were like that, offering uncertainty to the non-local as to what (and who) might be found inside. More often than not now it's possible to look through the window before going in. On the plus side allowing a look at the beer range is half decent and t check that the company looks convivial. In some ways this is a good thing but it also means the windows are more boring and customers are on show in the manner of a goldfish or shop mannequin. For anyone trying to maintain a low profile (bunking off school/work, hiding from your husband/wife/mum/Dad/the Police) or for the innocent just wanting a bit of peaceful solitude this is not ideal. For the onlooker any wonder and imagination about what might be going on inside is lost. I remember walking past pubs when I was young and wondering what could be going on inside and why I wasn't allowed in. Similar (but not quite as interesting) were bookies with their beaded curtains. The possibility for these sort of imaginings is fast disappearing.
I knew I was heading back towards East Croydon when I could see Saffron Square looming in the distance like a purple a beacon.
Croydon Towerblock

Nestle brutalist
Walking along George Street I noticed the Nestle Tower, an impressive enough piece of 60s brutalism. Nestle (always pronounced 'Nessels' by people I knew when I was a kid) vacated the building 5 years ago and it's been purchased by Chinese developers with, unsurprisingly, a view to residential conversion

I was quite taken with Croydon as a place to explore, something I would do a bit more of when I had to return to Waddon a couple of weeks later. It is obviously a place in the grip of gentrification but still has plenty of so far unaffected areas in the centre. As well as the 60s architecture and  older buildings there are plenty of regular shops catering to the 'ordinary' person. A Lidl on the main drag and a Wetherspoon (I passed one - there may be more) as well as plenty of independent shops selling things that are useful shops. It hasn't been heavily populated by Nathan Barley types or beardy-man-bun clones just yet. Maybe worse, that phase of gentrification may be bypassed or fast tracked- straight to the really weatlhy, most of which invest in their flats- rather than live in them.
Funeral directors Croydon
In the approach to East Croydon the presence of the clock in front of J R Shakespeare Funerals serves as an ominous reminder of the relentless march of time.  Clocks are not uncommon outside funeral directors, an obvious choice of decoration I suppose. This one is also handy to check if you are about to miss the train. 
50p buidling
The 50p building
The iconic  'No 1 Croydon' building is just past the station.  This is more informally known as the 50 p building, the three-penny bit building or the wedding cake. Formerly it's proper name was the NLA building (NLA standing for Noble Lowndes Annunities- no, I've never heard of them either) when it was put up in the 60s. It featured in the opening credits of Terry and June and was later called one of the UK's top eyesores in a programme on Channel Four (around the time it underwent a refurbishment).
Croydon gentrification
View from the Boxpark
I was in need of refreshment before getting the train and luckily there was an outlet for excellent local brewery The Cronx right next to the station. This was part of  a complex called 'Boxpark' which appeared to be a temporary structure containing various food and drink outlets with a large area in the centre to sit and eat whatever food you have bought there. This was I suppose a typical example of hipstery gentrification but it's temporary nature indicated it was soon to be swept aside for development for the benefit people further up the food chain of the gentrification hierarchy and this re-enforced my earlier perceptions.

One of the outlets, selling meaty products and bourbon, had artwork depicting people with animal and skull heads. I'm not sure what this was supposed to signify, if anything. Maybe the skull in the suit is meant to represent something about cultural death with the coming of wealth. But it's probably just supposed to look cool - and it did I suppose.
Psychogeography Croydon

Croydon psychogeography

The train back travelled back through the wilds of South London, places unknown to me or only briefly passed through like Norwood Junction and Penge West. Back through slightly more familiar territory of New Cross Gate. Then the City of London looms into view.

View from the train Psychogeography
I headed back in the rough direction of Kings Cross.
London Bridge and the Shard
This was Southwark Cathedral (I think) with the Shard in the background. The mix of old and new in this part London, as elsewhere, is stark and moreso since the Shard was put up. I've never really been tempted to go up it despite the spectacular views from what is said to be the tallest building in Europe. It's about £25 to be being granted access to the specatcle, probably involves queing and I'm not really one for heights. Prior to it being complete it was 'hacked' by urban explorers. Theres a good article about that here.

Further along somewhere past St Paul's Cathedral I passed this building. It's been a Youth Hostel since the 70s and was previously St Pauls Choir School. I was drawn to the Scallop Shell motif. The scallop shell has been used as a fertility symbol asscoiated with the Roman Goddess Venus. It's also been used as a symbol for religious pilgrimage. More recently of course for Shell Oil. I don't know what the intention of  the architect was here but my feet were telling me I was making a pilgrimage of sorts..albiet one with no religious intent, much direction or anything in mind to revere at the end of it.
Psychogeography Shell Motif
Nearby a crow or possibly a rook, I'm never sure. The saying goes 'if theres more than one crow they are rooks, if theres only one rook it's a crow. So I'm going with crow. Crows have been associated  with death and the 'other world' in Britsh Folklore. While I didn't think mortal danger was imminent I think crows do have a bit more mystery and command more respect than pigeons even when scavenging on bits of dropped sandwich. Further east, Ravens, which are larger versions of crows, reside at the Tower of London. It's said that if they leave England will fall. I think their wings are clipped to make sure they don't fly away.
Soon after this after passing the Old Bailey, I found myself at the corner of Guiltspur Street and Cock Lane. Here the Golden Boy of Pye Corner marks the point where the Great Fire of London is said to have stopped. This was orginally the site of a bawdy pub. Probably not unconnected is the blaming of the fire on the sin of gluttony, as described in  the enscription on the wall. Being on the edge of the City, the epicentre of greed in London, any warnings of future restraint have fallen on deaf ears but there's been no repeat of the fire - yet. I'd never heard of the somewhat defiant looking Golden Boy before. He reminds me of a post-piss version of the Manequin Pis in Brussels, mocking puritancal warnings about gluttonous behaviour having relieved himself in the street. I'd seen the name Pye Corner on a map of Harlow before and had imagined the name derived from the location of a former Pye electronics factory, possibly now derilict. I'd wondered if this might be the inspiration for the electronic music artist known as Pye Corner Audio. Probably not. Of course 'Pye' is an old spelling of 'Pie', hence the association with gluttony. There are several Pye Corners in the UK. The character 'Neil' in 'The Young Ones' had the surname 'Pye' so theres a tenuous comedy link there..
London Psychogeography
Somewhere a bit further along near the Barbican was this mural/street art. It seems to depict a young person with an affinity for the animal world. A hipster version of The Beastmaster or Johnny Morris perhaps.
Gentrification Hipster
Then I found myself on Goswell Road which leads from Barbican to Angel. Somehow I'd never heard of or walked along this road, despite usually ending up on the almost parallel routes of City Road, Farringdon Road or Grays Inn Road on meanderings back to Kings Cross from central or  Eastern bits of London. This was nicely disorientating. I felt like I'd slipped back in time to the 1970s London of  the Sweeney and Minder. The front of the establishment pictured below features the Pepsi sign once common on places with names like 'Jim's Cafe'. This conjured up images of formica, silver foil ashtrays, plastic tomatoes, cheap and basic grub (fry ups, liver and bacon, shepherd's pie) and Crusha flavoured milk. A mixture of memories from TV programmes and holidays in Yarmouth and Cromer as a kid.
London Payschogeography Cafe
Further along the road is Turnpike House. I immediately thought of the LP 'Tales from Turnpike House' by St Etienne and it's cover featuring what I thought was this tower block on the front. Except on checking this out the album cover I was thinking of was for their 'Finistere' LP which features the image of the tower block Ronan Point in East London - just before it was pulled down. When I first heard the title of the LP, to confuse things more I'd assumed it was about somewhere in Turnpike Lane. The London Trilogy of films the band made with director Paul Kelly are esssential viewing but I've never really listened to any of the bands music properly. This would probably explains my confusion around album covers and locations. Kelly resided in Turnpike House when collaborating with the band on one of the film'What Have you done today, Mervyn Day?' The Turnpike House imagined in the album and it's songs of kitchen  a sink drama was as much inspired by suburban areas as the actual location including Croydon, bringing things back to the beginning of my walk.
Turnpike House Psychogeography
Despite being named after a place in France, St Etienne have definate London and psychogeographical connections.  One album is  called 'London Conversations' and another,  'Words and Music by St Etienne' features an image of a fictitious A-Z style map with street names made up of the bands favourite songs. Bob Stanley of the band is quoted as saying ''the idea is that you can follow roads on the map and end up with a playlist of different journeys. There are 312 song titles on the map—it's our hometown." The most recent album is called 'Home Counties', traditionally a place where people end up moving to from London in middle age, motivated by suburban/rural ideas of  more space, peace and quiet and a perception of a safer place to bring up children while putting up with an extended commute. Whether this is still as prevalent and has happened to the members of St Etienne in recent times I'm not sure.

Turnpike House date from 1965, part of the Kings Square Estate built on behalf of Finsbury Council. The estate is currently undergoing development to include 70% 'affordable' housing at 'social rent'.  Judging by the number of hits for estate agents adverts a search for 'Turnpike House' produces I doubt that many of the original flats still fall into that category.

I diverted East somewhere before reaching Angel before heading to City Road and across to the excellent Wenlock Arms for light refreshment and a sit down. The pub dates from 1835 and now sits in a conservation area following an earlier attempt by delevopers to demolish it. On a previous visit some years ago me and some friends were accosted by an excitable and slightly incoherent French woman telling us something about the pub being under threat and that she thought she'd have to start drinking in the pub near the Eye Hospital instead. She need not have worried about the pub but Wenlock Road is almost unrecognisable since the first time I visited, probably about 15 years ago. The pub acts as a symbolic and physical buffer against more 'beige' development spreading any further along that side of the street. It featured in the Simon Pegg film 'The Worlds End', which was set in the fictional Newton Haven, nothing to do with London or it's numerous pubs of the films title. The Wenlock also featured in the opening titles to a comedy quiz show on Dave, presented by Al  Murray with the dubious sounding title 'Compete for The Meat'. On the programme people compete for a frozen chicken, with a second prize of some sausages while Al Murray hosts it in his 'Pub Landlored' character.

Across the road is Shepherdess Walk Park. I'd never walked across it and decided I ought to. I was drawn towards the mosaics in one corner of the park which depicted the seasons. One is labelled 'Hackney 2012'. The first mosaic in the park was created that year in celebration of  life in Hackney's parks during the the olympics. Here, nearer to the border between Islington and Hackney it is four and a half miles from the actual Olympic Park but it feels a world away.

Mosaic Olympic Park
I exited the park through an alleyway which lead into the street containing a former pub. The Blockmakers Arms closed in the early 80s. I wonder how many people have stumbled towards it since only to realise that. I guess the occupants get a few random and unwelcome visitors too. Having already refreshed myself at the Wenlock I wasn't one of them.
Closed pub psychogeography
Regents canal psychogeography
I walked back in the direction of Angel and Kings Cross along the canal, where as a pedestrian ot makes a nice change to be given priority. Although not everyone agrees evidently. On the canal path the pedestrian has to coexist with a high volume of cyclists and joggers (I don't think they count as pedestrians). In the main this isn't a problem, but joggers do sometimes seem to assume superior status over slow(er) paced wanderers and ambulators who they expect to always step aside for them. They are not prepared to stop or move aside and insist (not vocally-it's just a given) that it's you who must instead. So even in a car free environment the walker is still seen by other 'modes' as at the bottom of a mode of travel/movement heirachy.
I was quite happy to slow down in the light of this and besides wasn in no rush.

Along one of the side roads leading into Upper Street I noticed the coffee shop above. The name Daily Grind was a good pun, recognising one of  the main reasons for the success of coffee shops is the few precious minutes of solitude and peace accompanied by a caffeine boost they offer on the way to work. The interlude between being half awake and coming to life before enduring another working day.
After eating in the always good Indian Veg I walked back to Kings Cross. Uneventful save this window. Kogan Page was a book publishers but it looks like they are closed and the building is being used as a temporary art space or squat. There was a train to Cambridge due so I didn't hang around to look closer. When I'm next here I'll see if it's still there, but my guess is it wil have been 'developed' into something else by then.