two water related experiences today and two new water related words.
A. As I was coming out of Finsbury Park station today I heard an announcement: be careful said the voice, because there was an ingress of water. At first I thought this was merely a pedantic official term, why not just say leak? But then I thought well, if water can ingress, then it can also egress. The former would be water that you want to keep out, coming in, and the latter would be water that you want to keep in, escaping, like when someone forgets to turn the bath off. Keeping water in its place is a major struggle for any civilisation. Some have more success than others.
B. Thames Water were away for a week or so, but they’re back, a couple of hundred yards away from their last visit. A bus stop is closed, temporary traffic lights set up, drills and diggers in action. I asked a young man what they were doing. I said they’re always digging up our street. He said, yeah, someone else said that! I said, I’m not surprised, it’s all we talk about round here. He said, well, the lids are all broke. And I realised that lids are what most of us call manhole covers, (which might be one of the last unchallenged sexist terms unless I’ve missed something), even though most of them cover things that a man wouldn’t climb down. The more you look, the more you see. There near the junction of Manor Road and Lordship Road there must have been about seven of them. All broke. All new.
feb 9. no work today. the sign says we’re fixing pipes, but as any fool knows, they’re fixing lids. There should be eight, but there are only four. The others are missing, and so we can see square steel boxes with circular lids – the lids below the lids – close to the surface of the road. Maybe they’ve sent off for more lids. The bus stop is closed. They always close any bus stop anywhere near the works, presumably because buses that stopped for half a minute might add to the congestion, although as you can see the bus stop is quite a long way down the road. I don’t understand why motorists have priority over bus passengers. Often people stand and wait at closed bus stops, they don’t notice the yellow sign on top. Then the bus cruises past and they’re angry.
I didn’t actually say that it’s all we talk about round here. That remark occurred to me just afterwards. I thought it would make a better story. I’m practising, trying to improve my banter and do journalism.
feb. 10. Still no work at the Thames Water site, and no buses at the bus stop. Maybe I didn’t understand about the lids. When the covers are removed you see underneath strong looking steel boxes. Could they be the lids? There was no one to ask, a shame because I really would like to know more.
feb 20. All done. No sign of Thames Water along the whole length of the road. There are now nine lids, or covers. All the water is now underground, which is nice. So UK Power Networks (bet you’d never even heard of them) have come along instead to carry out essential Electricity Work. When you see how drills and diggers cut through the road as if they were carefully slicing a birthday cake you realise that actually roads are designed to be broken up for trench warfare.
Last night I spent about two hours trying to get my computer and my camera and my phone to communicate with each other. When I begin to feel annoyed and petulant I say to myself: don’t be a baby, don’t be a baby, don’t be a baby. Sometimes this just makes me realise that in fact I am a baby, the world is against me and there is no one to care for me, but sometimes it works, and I now have some recent photos here on this computer.
So, some illustrations:
First, in response to a request from a friend, the famous goose of Dion in Greece. I’ve been trying to get back to the story and soon I will, but new and old experiences of water here at home have detained me.
Here’s Paternoster Square. Love is in the foreground, and behind it is Elizabeth Frink’s shepherd and sheep. see http://handbaked etc, no7, love etc.
And here are the animals at the Table of Love, etc. (sorry, wild table)
Marc is the handsome dog and Gillie is the lovely rabbit. Do you see how he protects and cares for her?
nice triangle sandwiches and cup cakes! can’t quite see how the lion is going to pick up his tea cup though.
This one you might have seen before:
see hand-baked no. 4: come, friendly bombs! I’m showing it again partly because I’m amazed that the can make London look like an entirely 21st century city, apart from the Museum of St Paul’s and several half submerged church steeples waving hopefully – and because, what does that green poppy signify? – but mostly to say that I contacted Martin Jennings, whose sculpture of John Betjeman stand gazing upwards in admiration in St Pancras station, to ask if he knew what was being done with his image of the poet on these hoardings, and he wrote back to say that he’d put his lawyers onto it. Well, they haven’t done anything, because six months later the poor old poet still stands on the hoarding looking up at the very things he hated.
Back home, back to the beginning of this piece, here are some lids, or covers:
When looking at photos of some particularly spectacular plant, crocuses opening on the edge of the melting snow for example, I realise that the photographer has hundreds of images but is so taken with the beauty of the flowers, seen at a distance, close-up, in masses and as individuals with each delicate anther and stamen, in bright light or shadow, that they can hardly bear to leave any out,, but you want to say, stop – we’ve all seen enough crocuses now! And so it is with lids (or covers) and scarred road surfaces. Just skim bumpily over them.
There you are: a slide show! So that only the curious need to bother. But notice, as in the first picture, visible here, the heavily scarred landscape of the anthropocene in Stoke Newington, which displays the influence of powerful tectonic activity on successive deposits of tarmac. And contrast this with recent repairs, where the road surface has been patched and stitched together, like heavy embroidery, in rectangular patterns.
and something different, from St John’s in Waterloo:
And this is what they’ve done to the Waterloo sunset (I know I’ve gone on about this before, but who said they could steal so much light and air?):