Archive for July 2012

Boris Johnson’s voice   Leave a comment

Boris Johnson is the mayor of London.
Big lardy man with a bad hairdo.
Symbol of the bad side of London life.
During the Olympics a recording of his voice is being played on all public transport and in stations at random intervals.

Every time it is played, you can observe real Londoners jerking suddenly, and hear sharp intakes of breath as if they are suddenly experiencing an electric shock to their genitals. All through the tube or bus, people make eye contact and then roll the same eyes to the ceiling, grimace, rattle their newspapers and frown. I get goosebumps every time I hear him. It puts me in such a bad mood. I grind my teeth and lose all concentration. I arrive at work and I am mean to the poor and disenfranchised, directly as a result of this.

“What ho peasants! This is the big one! Jolly yourselves along now and be nice! Ho! Ho! Ho!” (I’m paraphrasing a little. Well… at least, that is what I hear when the recording is played.)

Dear London Transport, I and my colleagues, nice hardworking people have started a campaign. We hate this man’s voice but we cannot stop it being played. We need to travel to work. Our powerlessness has led us to desperate measures.

We have sworn in blood, to make a note of every time we hear BJ’s voice each day. This becomes our ‘tourist target’. It is our duty to locate this number of tourists in London each day, and make their lives miserable.

We’ve kicked one, given wrong directions to another and smirked at a poor little old couple while they stood and we sat in the in priority seats. We make faces at little children in crowded tube carriages to make them cry. We elbow tourists at the door of the tube and trip them up when they try to exit the bus. Then we come to work and share our achievements.

This goes against the grain for us. We are decent folk.
But we have sworn to continue to do this until the torturous sound of his grating voice is removed. It is the only mechanism we have to exact revenge.

London Transport, Boris Johnson is the man who will eventually make you all lose your jobs. He is not a friend of the worker. I urge you now, break the tape! Destroy the disk! Don’t let this monster’s voice ruin tourism for London!


Court   Leave a comment

I am sitting outside the court. A thin barrister totters towards me. Wig askew. Three large bundles in pink ribbons in her arms. She stumbles on her high-heeled shoes. We make eye contact and I give her a sympathetic look. She dumps the bundles on the low wall beside me, pulls out a packet of cigarettes and a lighter from the depths of her black robe and lights up and lets out a big sigh. ‘Need my fix before the day begins!’ she says.

Around us are the bad, mad and sad. A middle-aged woman, overweight, dyed black hair with a haircut that is too young for her, and clothes that are too tight, stands with two young lads. The older boy has both ears pierced with ear plugs. His lobes will be permanently destroyed. He has a tattoo on his neck, a spider web. Incongruously he wears a suit, nervously, pulling at the tie. The younger is maybe 14 or 15 years old, with just one earring, slim and worried looking. The middle-aged woman hands them both cigarettes and they all light up. She is their mother.

A bit further away an older barrister sprawls on a metal bench. Her wig is disintegrating, just held together with a few fibres. She has a massive thatch of hair. Large clumps of her hair are sprouting through the tattered wig. She is oblivious, probably would not care in any event.

Large fat barrels of men with signet rings, accompanied by minions carrying Archbold and bundles begin to arrive. These people’s wigs are not askew. They stride through the dregs of humanity, not deviating in their trajectory. The mad, bad and sad jump out of their way. They peer through the doors of consulting rooms inside, attempting to intimidate those inside and get them out (that is if the minions have not already been sent early to stake out a room).

Inside, a massive Albanian family with several pretty young women in Primark fashion surround a dubious looking man with a heavy gold neck chain. They and their numerous screaming and crying children take up a large number of the few seats in the waiting area.

A man talks on his mobile about how his medication is running out, saying he is very nervous and that he needs his medication now.

Two young girls walk past. One looks too young to be here, maybe 14 years old. She wears tight clothes, has a massive hairdo and false eyelashes. She is walking with attitude. The eyes of waiting men follow her. Her friend is the opposite, a massive cardigan on a hot day, hanging off her shoulders, exhausted and scared looking. They find a place at the end of the corridor. Out comes a mobile phone and they begin to play music on it. A harried clerk tells them to switch it off. When the clerk is out of earshot, they switch it on again.

There are huddles of people everywhere with palpable tension in the air as the start time approaches. Every so often there is a break in one of the huddles, and a dash to the toilet. Fear is physical. Last minute instructions are taken and the clerks begin to call the cases.

We process these people through a system that is the only one we have, questionable in its effectiveness.

We emerge into the sunlight after warnings are given and plans for future activity made. More cigarettes. Relief. Sunshine.

Afterwards, because it is Friday,  I get on the train and go to the sea where it is green and quiet.

Posted July 28, 2012 by mshambainlondon in Curious incidents, Random, Summer in London

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Olympics   Leave a comment

It is finally here. I remember when London won the bid in 2005. What a different world! The economy was booming, we were affluent and on top of the world.
And now the Olympics is here and it is a different time. People are losing their jobs every day. The numbers seeking help from food banks is increasing. The government has changed and is driving through a rich man, fat cat agenda where there are no people only ‘workers between jobs’, ‘consumers’ and ‘customers’. The poor and the illegal immigrant are increasingly being targeted as the cause of all the problems in the country by both the government and the media. They are easy targets, poorly educated or unable to vote.
There are surface-to-air missiles on the top of blocks of flats where the poor live in order to shoot down enemies of the Olympics. The army has been called in to police the Olympics because a fat cat multi-national, G4S, was given a multi-million pound contract to provide security for the Olympics, but completely failed to do so.
London feels like a police state right now. There are large parts of the East End that are completely blocked off to ordinary people.
Apparently there is a government taskforce that has been set up to police the use of words like ‘Olympics’, ‘London’, ‘summer’, and ‘2012’. Any business that is not an Olympic’s sponsor (by this I mean more multi-national corporations like McDonald’s and Coke), cannot use these words.
Jeremy (C)Hunt, the minister responsible for the Olympics has been in the media this weekend telling everyone to stop whingeing and be grateful.
With respect, Jeremy, eff off.

(Rant over. I will look for something a bit more positive to say about the Olympics at a later stage.)

Surprise   Leave a comment

Weather today was my favourite. Huge deluge of straight-down rain, massive drops, black almost thunderous clouds, flash floods, people running for shelter, then five minutes later a tiny patch of blue in the sky begins to spread and its raining through sunshine. The clouds disappear and it is scorching with steam rising from the vegetation making London very jungle-like. Half an hour later angry clouds and huge drops start it all over again.

It is on such a day that I resumed the Capital Ring, (after a few forays to North and South Downs when  the thought of wandering the streets of East London did not appeal).  But once again, my preconceived notions were shattered. When am I going to learn eh?

Highgate to Finsbury Park (Parkland Walk)  along a disused railway track, a long strip of mini-parkland through urban London, the trees blocking out everything. Mad graffiti. I am an old person and, other than clever stuff like Banksy, I have never had much time for it. But this was beautiful. The colours were vivid and the artwork was really stunning. I found myself gawping and turning my head sideways under the bridges and along the arches to appreciate it. I even saw a young guy working on a new piece, totally absorbed with what he was doing.

Then through Finsbury Park and onto the New River, which is neither new nor a river. An old canal dating from the early 1600s created to bring water from Hertfordshire to London, amazingly designed and still working today. Surprised at the two massive reservoirs full of wildlife (especially my favourite, mad, bad-tempered, noisy coots and their very vocal young), just at the back of Seven Sisters Road, places I never knew existed.

An area of Woodberry Down Estate that appears to be undergoing renewal had a very big and  fancy fountain with a waterfall feature and a huge silver globe.  I am happy to say a large chunk of the children of Woodberry Downs were crawling all over and in the water feature, having a whale of a time. It was like a scene from Little Rascals.

In Clissold Park there was Kurdish music festival. People of all shapes and sizes were there. Young beautiful people with flags, baggy trousers and Yasser Arafat scarves. Middle aged couples, she in her good shoes and black skirt, he with his moustache and black leather jacket, gaggles of teenage girls, young couples. Beautiful, sad, haunting music in the air. Then a massive downpour. The music stopped. I took shelter on the veranda of Clissold House and drank coffee and watched people trying hide from the rain under trees.  The small patch of blue sky got bigger, people emerged from the trees and drifted back to the festival in the late evening sunshine. Children were dancing on the pathway as the music started again. They twirled their umbrellas as they danced.

Then Abney Park cemetery. Sunlight was streaming through the trees and steam was rising from the undergrowth in the rays of sunlight.  The mucky pathways were lined with monuments to the dead, some toppling precariously, others eaten away by pollution and age.

In the middle of the cemetery I could hear haunting choral music. I assumed the old chapel must have been repaired and was being used by a choir. I struggled and slid down through the muck and puddles towards the old chapel.  There, hidden behind a van, were a group of new-age hippies, holding a dance event. They had erected some plastic awnings to keep out the rain, and a girl was performing, twisting and turning on the ground, surrounded by people in dreads and piercings. It was so bizarre, unexpected, stunning, unusual in the middle of an old cemetery. But strangely lovely. I stood and gawped again. (Did a lot of gawping today). Then trotted on with a big smile on my face to the main exit and Stoke Newington.

London, in one day, crazy weather, coots, a graffiti artist at work, a Kurdish music festival and a new-age dance event in a cemetery.

Nice things   1 comment


Sunshine in the late afternoon on a dark and rainy day.
Mad questions from little children.

Random conversations with strangers.
Getting what you want unexpectedly.
Cherries in July.
Friday evening.

I had all these things today.
(OMG I’m turning into Julie Andrews.)

Simple prayer   Leave a comment

Dear Lord,

Thank you for stopping me from killing people at work today.
I have a hole in my tongue from biting right through it,
And cuts on the palms of my hands from where I clenched my fists so tight that my fingernails broke skin,
Red eyes, high cortisol levels, possible high blood pressure and increased risk of stroke.
But I am going to bed happy because goddamnit!

I proved that I am a mature and responsible adult.


Posted July 4, 2012 by mshambainlondon in Random, Work

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