Saturday, October 09, 2010


One of the first things I saw as I walked west on Old Street from the roundabout was this new piece by Eine, spelling out CHANGE in an area that certainly is changing (it used to be quite dodgy, but is now upwardly trendy). I decided that "change" would make a nice theme for my visit. Bits of London are so old and seemingly unchanging. Because I'm here only once or twice a year, I sometimes think that everything should be just as I left it on my last visit. But it's an organic city, in a constant cycle of destruction and renewal, for better or worse. It's been through fires, bombings, slum clearance, economic booms and busts, buildings falling into dereliction or being gentrified. I'm walking around with new glasses -- both literally and metaphorically -- and noticing what's changed, what's gone and what's new.

I met up with my pal Mondoagogo at the Museum of London for a hands-on experience with ancient London. We did a workshop in the archaeology department, learning about how they sort and catalogue the millions and millions of ancient bits that are kept in their massive archives (the largest in Europe) in Hackney. Our task was to dump out bags of dusty bits of pottery that had been dug up in 1975 in a dig under the nearby General Post Office. Some bits were pieces of Roman amphorae and other bits were medieval. To our surprise, they are all mixed together and catalogued not by the era in which they originated but by the "context" in which they were found. So we wrote out labels for "GPO75" and the strata number of the layer the bits came from. The Museum of London relies on hundreds of volunteers to help with maintaining their archives. So, a new activity for me, handling old bits that have seen the light of day due to the regeneration of a building site.

The Boris Bikes are new since I was last here. It's the central city cycle hire scheme that's recently been launched by Mayor Boris Johnson. Bike stands have popped up all over the central areas, and the bikes themselves are another opportunity for corporate branding. They should probably be called Barclays Boris Bikes, but that's just too much.

Here's another change I saw in Chiswell Street. This ghetto rat stencil, by Banksy, has been here for years. Banksy's original had
"London doesn't work" on the placard. Robbo, a rival graffiti artist, has been leaving his mark on various Banksy pieces. There's a whole history of the feud between Banksy and Robbo that's not worth going into.

As a change from the usual pub meet with my mates from
Guess Where London on Flickr, we did a pub quiz. Nine of us formed two teams for a quiz sponsored by Londonist. The quiz was quite hard, and though neither of our teams won, we had a respectable showing. We came in 4th and 6th, losing only to teams made up of professional London guides (ringers!).

Distance: 7.96 miles (19,404 steps)


  • £20 to top up my Oyster card
  • £10 for dinner at Mildred's (vegetarian restaurant in Soho)
  • £2 pub quiz entry fee
  • £3 for tea at the pub quiz


  1. You're there! Hurray! Great photos already, as of course we expect from you. Hope the bum knee behaves and the new glasses serve well.

  2. Great to see you at the quiz. Hope you have a great time for the rest of your visit.

  3. What, no bouncers to keep out professional guides?

    Excellent post with theme.