Weeknotes 2022.25: What an awful week

A corrugated wall, with vegetation, reflected into a river.

It hardly seems worth documenting the minor annoyances I’ve experienced this week when so much genuinely awful stuff (the US Supreme Court jeopardising the life of anyone with a uterus, an attack on a gay nightclub on Oslo, the continued wicked violence of the United Kingdom government against refugees and the Russian state against Ukraine) is happening elsewhere in the world. Living through history is exhausting (I really liked this post from my friend James on that topic.) But live through it we must, so here goes. Hopefully some pretty pictures will give you something to enjoy.

On Monday, I got delayed on Crossrail for the first time. I was heading into town for a late-night walk, got down to the Elizabeth line platforms at Liverpool Street, walked into the waiting train and took my seat—only to hear an announcement from the driver that there was a problem with a train ahead at Paddington so we’d be waiting for a while. It was about 10 minutes in total—and much nicer with air conditioning and a spacious, mostly-empty train. Surprisingly, the driver said that his cab door was open if anyone wanted to come and ask any questions, which seemed unusual. I wouldn’t have thought that was allowed—but then again, this is a train which operates on movement authority and can be stopped anywhere, not an aeroplane which would fall out of the sky or could be flown into a building. On my way back, I found myself (a) enjoying the design of the new Crossrail entrance to Liverpool Street, and (b) wanting one of those Network South East mechanical seven-segment clocks inside my house.

On Tuesday, I went for a spin on my bike. The CS3 cycle counter was busier than ever thanks to (a) the combined Tube and mainline rail strikes, (b) the lovely warm weather with not a cloud in the sky on the summer solstice. Even Big Ben, a building I mainly dislike, looked moderately attractive. (Yes I know it’s called the Clock Tower or Elizabeth’s Tower or St. Stephen’s Tower, no I don’t care.)

The clock tower of the Houses of Parliament in London, in the golden light, taken from a corner.

On Wednesday, we went for a long walk up the River Lee Navigation. We came across some frankly cursed street art that needs to be seen to be believed (but hurry up—it’s already partly covered by graffiti) and saw a glorious sunset from the bridge over Ruckholt Road.

A sunset over a field with trees in the background and grass flowers(?) in the foreground.

On Thursday, the other one of the fuchsias popped, and I noticed some flower buds on the pelargonium (geranium) too. By Sunday, they had attracted their first pollinator. There will, I hope, be many more.

A fuchsia with flowers that have red sepals, white petals, and red filaments. A small insect is pollinating it.

On Friday, after a long day of meetings, I stepped out late at night for a walk, swinging by the shops for a bar of chocolate and something to drink. As I stepped out, the sky lit up an ominous orange. “Is something wrong?” I wondered. “Some kind of electrical blowout? Are we being nuked? Have the aliens landed?” It was none of the above—it turns out Green Day were playing the London Stadium. The pyro I witnessed as I walked past was… something.

The London Stadium at night in silhouette, with red pyrotechnics above it lighting smoke from previous explosions.

On Saturday, traffic in the local area was shocking. Rail workers were on strike again (as they are entitled to be—solidarity against the clowns at the DfT!) Another concert was running at the stadium. And seemingly everyone in south east England decided that they must take that Saturday to go shopping at Westfield, and that they must go in the car. The result was… not pretty. I posted a video online, not including the One Foot In The Grave-style incident I witnessed where two passengers got out of a car to urinate on a wildflower verge. An atypical weekend? Maybe. But it goes to show that massive shopping centres of the type Westfield is are almost always a planning failure, and it only takes one assumption made during the planning process to fail (e.g. no trains) for the local transport network to disintegrate into chaos.

Queues of traffic towards and away from a tall glass building.

On Sunday, we did a lot of walking, and I found myself, not for the first time, wanting a Network SouthEast clock in my house.

A mechanical seven-segment display clock on a station platform at Liverpool Street reads 18:40:28.