peterbirks: (Default)
Holborn Circus is a pedestrian's and driver's nightmare. Getting from one side to the other for both car and pedestrian is a feat of endurance and, with cars in particular, often a cause of crashes.

In case you don't know Holborn Circus, it consists of six roads entering a roundabout that is not a roundabout. In fact, if you are on the roundabout, the traffic coming from the side road has right of way if their traffic light is green.

Anyway, as I walked there today (it's where my gym is located) I noticed markings on the ground that seemed to indicate a forthcoming (much-needed) redesign.

First we have the view looking north from St Andrew's Hill. The white lines moving from right up to left look to be where the new road will be.

 photo 2013-05-14124429.jpg

Below is the picture of St Andrew's Hill itself. As you can see, it will be blocked off from Holborn Circus, heading left instead to the top of Fetter Lane.

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Below is a view from the east side of the circus, looking south-west towards the entrance to New Fetter Lane. To the left of the curving white line, all will be pavement. The road itself from St Andrew's Hill (on the left of the picture) will curve round behind the left-most tree.

 photo 2013-05-14124620.jpg

Finally, below is a view looking south (St Andrew's Hill is straight ahead, to the right of St Andrew's Church, while High Holborn, heading towards the Bridge over Farringdon Road, is on the left. On the sharp left is Charterhouse St).

There are fewer changes on this north side, although Hatton Garden appears to be narrowed to a single lane (my guess would be exit only from the Circus).

The major changes on the north side are a significant extension of the pavements in two places (if you look to the right of the left-most traffic cone, the white line indicates how far the pavement will be extended at the exit from Charterhouse St onto the Circus. A similar extension will occur on the right-hand side (entrance side) of Charterhouse St, where it ajoins the current entrance to the Circus from Hatton Garden)

 photo 2013-05-14124725.jpg

The net impact of all this will block off two entrances to the Circus -- St Andrew's Hill, which will curve round into New Fetter Lane before entering the Circus, and Hatton Garden, which will become exit only (and a narrow exit at that).

That should make the traffic light layout far simpler and far more efficient. TBH, the best thing that they could do would be to move the statue in the middle! But I suspect that English Heritage or someone would object. For a start, Holborn Circus would cease to be a circus. Some might thing that would not be a bad thing.


Some more pictures of the Circus to expand the indication of what will happen.

Below. Looking south from between Hatton Garden and Charterhouse St towards New Fetter Lane. The white line indicates how far the pavement will be extended.

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Below. On Hatton Garden, once again looking south to New Fetter Lane. The yellow lines show how far the entrance to Hatton Garden will be narrowed. Presumably it will be northbound only for a short way.

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Between Charterhouse St and Holborn Viaduct, looking west towards High Holborn. An indication as to how far the pavement will be extended

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Below: The "DK" indicates the new pedestrian crossings. This one is the crossing of Holborn Viaduct westbound. Looking north to Hatton Garden.

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Below: Taken from New Fetter Lane looking north to Hatton Garden (left) and Charterhouse St (right). This shows how foreshortened the pavement will be. The "new" road will lead from St Andrew's Hill direct into New Fetter Lane. (BTW, "New" Fetter Lane is about 100 years old. "Old" Fetter Lane is about 100 yards west up High Holborn.

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Below. Looking East to the top of St Andrew's Hill. Everything to the left of the white line will be road. The dotted line on the left indicates the pedestrian crossing/ traffic light. As you can see, the building work has already begun on St Andrew's Hill.

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Below. From New Fetter Lane looking north to Haton Garden and Charterhouse St. Pavement to be extended significantly (white line coming from front of taxi and then bending left) with pedestrioan crossing moved north.

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Another shot from roughly the same spot, showing where the new crossing across High Holborn will be.

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Below: Looking south from the middle of High Holborn to New Fetter Lane, indicating from another viewpoint the extension of the pavement and the placement of the new pedestrian crossing area.

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Below: From north side of High Holborn, with Hatton Garden on my left, Chartehouse St ahead to the left and Holborn Viaduct ahead to the right.

 photo 2013-05-16125132.jpg


Apr. 30th, 2013 07:46 pm
peterbirks: (Default)
London was particularly unpleasant today. I am beginning to wonder/worry that my fear of crowds might be re-emerging, although it's equally possible that all I have is a rational dislike of large groups of people moving randomly.

The walk back up Hatton Garden after the gym was particularly unpleasant. If people were in pairs or threes they were talking to each other and not paying attention to anyone else. If they were on their own then they were texting on their phone and not paying attention to anyone else. It being Hatton Garden there were groups of undesirables hanging around outside shops (these people have ill-defined jobs within the jewellery world and seem to spend most of their days either outside various stores talking to each other, or sitting outside the Costa Coffee talking to each other -- they remind me of some of the clients of the Mecca Bookmakers in Denmark St and North Row, in that they clearly have some kind of job involved with the area, but I'm never quite sure what) and there were couples walking in odd diagonal zig-zags, suddenly stopping to look in a window at a ring.

As I was walking up the street a woman about four feet behind me suddenly started a loud phone conversation with her boyfriend. I actually had to stop, step aside, and let her pass. I then carried on walking four feet behind her. I think that she thought I was some kind of weirdo, because she quickly cross the road, which was fine by me. But I find it very off-putting to be walking up the street with someone close behind you indulging in a loud conversation. I do the same when it's a pair of people talking to each other. And I don't care what they think when I stop suddenly and step to one side to let them pass. For me its the pedestrian equivalent of some lorry tailgating you on a B-Road.

So, basically the walk from Holborn Circus was one long sequence of avoiding walking into people, having people nearly walking into you, having traffic moving at you from any direction at any moment, and generally just trying to keep sane until you get back to the office -- which isn't, TBH, all that much better.

And people wonder why it's a relief to get back home, shut the door, and bid farewell to the outside world for another 14 hours. Why on earth people want to voluntarily GO OUT into central London again OF AN EVENING is something that escapes me.

The weather was to blame, I reckon. It was far too pleasant, and that just attracts the masses out of their offices and into the street -- never mind the fact that the street is remarkably unpleasant. There seems to be some kind of duty to be "outside" at lunchtime if the weather is nice.

Meanwhile, back in the inside that is civilization, I can have the pleasure of reading books and watching movies, of which I've been doing a fair bit. Nothing that I've got the energy to review. I've given up most of my commenting on Facebook because it's becoming increasingly clear that only a few people have anything worthwhile to say and that most people are likely to react aggressively to logical argument. I see poor Tony Dobson argue patiently and logically time and time again, only to come up against a brick wall of irrationality and personalization. Hazel Nicholson posted a marvellous Richard Dawkins strip cartoon that mocked many of the sillinesses of "alternative" treatments. What was interesting was reading the comments of those who cannot, will not, and damnity-damnation never will, accepot that their own particular piece of lunacy is anything but true. - Crystals, Raike, "energy forces", magnetism, you name it, there will always be one indisputable proof as far as they are concerned, that "proof" being "I've seen it work". Well, d'uh, sorry, but that ain't good enough. It's up there with the "online poker is rigged" argument. But once you start talking about proper testing, control groups, double-blind experiments and so on, you might as well be talking to the palm. You just can't win, so I've given up trying.

It's the same with economics, of course. David Graeber's "Debt, The First 5,000 Years" should be mandatory reading for everyone who is still tied up with the morality of debt rather than the reality of what is going to happen. But they won't read it, so why should I bother trying to explain it? Let's just wait 30 years and see what happens. I'll be proved right; I won't take any pleasure in being proved right (if I am still alive) and all of those people whose savings will have been taken away from them by one means or another will be bemoaning the immorality of it all until they breathe their last, instead of realizing now (as they should) that history has seen sequence after sequence of unsustainable debts being built up and then being summarily cancelled wither through revolution or royal edict. Morality doesn't come into it; practicality is all. It's not much use taking the moral high ground if a larger group is cancelling its debt and the police are part of that larger group cancelling the debt.

In other words, it's wearying. It all seems so obvious, but people are tied up in knots of logic than can easily be cut through if you throw away Protestant teaching and concepts of fairness. Wealth is not savings -- Power is wealth. You can work hard and save all your life, but if I have a gun and the law on my side, and I want your savings, then that is that.

This, roughly, is what we shall see in the next 30 years. Unless the older generation voluntarily give up their savings (or they have been clever enough to make sure they spent it all first) it will be taken from them by the younger generation. You will not see a balancing of the global books through austerity, or through the Americans suddenly being savers and the Chinese suddenly becoming consumers. You will see a balancing of the global books either through default or through war. So stop moaning about how this isn't "right" and start working out what you are going to do about it so that you don't get royally fucked when it happens.

Actually, don't start thinking about what you are going to do about it. because the fewer people who have worked it out, the easier it will be not to get fucked when it happens.

peterbirks: (Default)
A surreal instant this morning. With Saint Etienne's marvellous track "Teenage Winter" (from the album about London Tales From Turnpike House) playing on the Rio, and the sight of the BT Tower (a la the front flap of Ian McEwan's novel Saturday) in front of me, I suddenly felt an incredible love for my city. Now, considering how I spend much of my time berating the place these days, this was an unusual occurrence indeed. I guess we have the voice of Sarah Cracknell, the pleasant freshness of the morning, and the complete solitude to thank.

More on London, etc )
peterbirks: (Default)
One of the advantages of scouring the news in the early morning as part of your job is that you see snippets that might be of value. The news that McGrath might miss the fourth test after sustaining an injury was enough to make me check out the price on England. It doesn't look to me as if this has filtered through to the 4.1 available, so I had a small interest, with the intention, of course, of trading it back before the game starts. Be interesting to see how important McGrath is rated, given his ineffectiveness in the previous test.


This morning London seemed to set a record for degeneracy. It used to be that my walk from Charing Cross to work at 6.40 was a peacful journey. No Longer. Today we had two screaming drunks on the platform as I arrived, plus another comatose drunk being loaded onto the train by his friends. Then there were three or four nutter drunks outside the 24-hour Chinese restaurant on Wardour Street ("established 1997", it says, proudly, in neon), and then the final coup de gras, a scamster just north of Oxford Street. Conversation went like this.

"Excuse me"
"Excuse me".
I turn to listen to the 25-year-old or so Asian guy.
"It's okay, I'm not going to ask for anything" (At this point I know that this is a scam. The rest is just entertainment).
"I've got money" (waves five pound note). "But, the thing is. I was getting really worried. You're the sixth guy I've asked and most of them have ignored me, and ...."
"Look, what you are doing is trying to quickly establish a relationship. You have one second. Why are you talking to me?"
"Well, I've locked myself out of my car, and ..."
"No problem. That happened to me. We'll go to the police station and they have keys to help you out".
"I've already tried that."
"So how am I meant to help you when the police won't?"
Scamster gives up, walks across street in search of another mark.
"It's a scam, mate, Ignore him."

Just one final strike from Pete, there.

Fortunately I made the last 200 yards to work without seeing one drunk, con artist, drug addict or psychopath. Quite an achievement, really.
peterbirks: (Default)
The Salt Lake Tribune wrote in a leader (editorial comment) on Friday that "It is tempting to declare, in the spirit that the rest of the world showed us after 9/11, that we are all Londoners now. But that would be presumptuous of us. London will stand through this outrage, as it has stood through worse. And its courage will stiffen the upper lip of the civilized world.

It would indeed have been presumptuous. Look at this morning's news from the Press Association:

"Thousands of American servicemen and women based in Britain have been banned from entering London in the wake of the terrorist attacks. Members of the US Air Force stationed at two RAF bases in Suffolk were instructed not to go within the M25 until further notice. Matt Tulis, a spokesman at RAF Mildenhall, said the directive was issued to 10,000 personnel in the aftermath of the bombings and was considered the most effective measure to protect their troops."

So much for the "We are not afraid" banners. Pathetic.
peterbirks: (Default)
Shortly before 1pm today it will be announced that either Paris or London will host the 2012 Olypmpic Games. The BBC News will then show shots of keen fans looking at big screens set up in a public place, either cheering or looking bereft.

In London it's going to be Trafalgar Square.

Have these people ever been to Trafalgar Square on a summer's day? I mean, how many people from London do they expect to be there? I would reckon that fans from Paris and Madrid will outnumber the Londoners (none of whom particularly want London to host the games anyway). There might be a few people from the UK, but the majority of those in Trafalgar Square at this time of year are kiddy tourists being shepherded around by harrassed schoolteachers. I know that one of the justifications for tourism is the amount of money that tourists bring into the London economy, but I don't see how 30 teenagers with about 30 euros in their pocket between them are going to provide an economic stimulus. Investment bankers, yes, rich tourists, yes. Thousands of kids blocking the pavement. Well, not really.

One of the hot bands at the moment is Antony & The Johnsons (Anthony and the Johnsons? Anthony and the Jonsons? Ah, the pains of the silent "h"). I was listening to Sparks on the walk to work this morning and it struck me how influenced Anthony has been by Ron and Russell Mael. A great band, somewhat misunderstood at the time, I feel.

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