Springing into Friday Fun

Kicking off these week’s fun are a few more London delights. Firstly, a mental challenge for all those who consider themselves to be London aficionados – can you identify 21 London ‘landmarks’? Now, the definition of ‘landmark’ is rather broad, but it’s a diverting 5 minutes! [I scored 16 out of 21, my incorrect answers largely being the result of mis-identifying glass windows and spurious statues…]

Another challenge (or a sheer delight) are these hand-drawn maps of Westminster by Jojo Oldham, who’s embarking on a project to map each of London’s boroughs, as well as one to map the ‘people’s Britain’. So much detail…

Jojo City of Westminster 5This illustration demonstrates just how close to the Camden-Westminster border I live.

Talking of maps, there is a huge amount of (educational) fun to be had with the fabulous addition of the Ordnance Survey town plan of 1893-6 to Google Maps. Choose your location, and see it transform from 2014 to late 19th century. Utterly fascinating. Here’s a snapshot of my current parish, which on the one hand doesn’t seem to have changed much, yet really has…

Holborn, 1890sHolborn, 1890’s

Obligatory London Transport fun is provided this week by Tubographical Transactions by Yangchen Lin, a photographic exhibition on show at the Subway Gallery 14-22 March. A host of photos that take a slightly different perspective on life on the tube, including tube pants (not a photo I’m sharing here). Londonist features several of the photos, of which these were favourites:



Finally, some Oscars-related fun. Amusingly, I had something in this theme ready to share last week – but when compiling last week’s Fun, I became the second person in my family to succumb to the mistake of thinking that the last weekend in February and first weekend in March were not the same thing. [i.e. this time last week, March 2nd seemed a lot further away than 2 days, what with my brain forgetting how short February is.] So, first off, here are children recreated the key plot points of each of the films nominated for Best Picture:

I particularly loved how they chose to deal with 12 Years a Slave…

As for the night itself, obviously there was the most-retweeted-tweet-ever, but for me, there were two key moments. One was obviously what has now become known as the Cumberbomb, which prompted a brilliant article about how Cumberbatch basically ‘won’ the Oscars – which a classmate showed me during Monday’s lecture, but which I now cannot find, despite scouring the internet. Trust me, it was excellent…

The other was John Travolta incomprehensibly getting Idina Menzel’s name badly, badly wrong when announcing her performance of what ended up winning Best Song (Let It Go, as featured here a couple of weeks ago). Since his gaff, we’ve been able to Travoltafy our names and Idina has soared to the level of fame she ought have had some time ago. (Some argue that this gaff will be the making of her.) She responded to interview questions about it simply by saying “Let it go…” and the Broadway production in which she’s currently starring did this:

Adele Dazeem on Broadway

Adele, sorry, Idina also went on the Jimmy Fallon show and performed the aforementioned song with him and the Roots band – it’s worth watching, it may not be quite what you expect:

Friday Fun for lovers of London

Having taken a break from the joys of London and its transport last week, this week’s Friday Fun is a smorgasboard of such delights. This morning we’ll begin in time honoured fashion with something involving the tube map…

What if the tube map told the truth?

True Tube MapI’d say some of these are pretty accurate. I particularly liked Great Portland Street’s ‘Neither Here Nor There’. So true. 

Also in the world of London themed maps are two fascinating pieces of work by Ollie O’Brien. ‘Electric Tube’ is a new take on the classic map:

Electric TubeWhile London North/South only showing properties – north of the river in blue, south in red. The parks are useful geographical pointers, meaning that I can spot my old Bermondsey flat as well as my current location.


For fans of the history of London, this week has been a bumper one in terms of photographic fun. First up, a simply lovely collection of photos of the underground in the 1950’s and 60’s. Courtesy of Buzzfeed and my friend Becki, we have discovered that people called “fluffers” used to be employed to remove dust from the tunnels – causing Dave Walker to muse as to whether the same effect could be achieved by a vacuuming train. Dave, I repeat Becki’s request to see that in a cartoon one day!

Fluffers on the tube

the Museum of London has an app that uses its archives of images of the capital and superimposes them upon the view in your camera. [Takes a moment to download app…] If you can’t get you and your camera phone to London, here’s a taste of what it looks like:

Palace Theatre; 1958 + 2014The Palace Theatre, 1958 and 2014.

Gloucester Road Station 1868 + 2014My Monday morning destination of Gloucester Road station, 1860’s and 2014.

As if old photography wasn’t enough, some clever person have added famous paintings to the appropriate location as captured by Google Street View. The Guardian has a whole gallery of them – here’s a couple to whet your appetite:

Trafalgar Sq LogsdailSt. Martin in the Fields by William Logsdail (1888)

Westminster Abbey CanalettoWestminster Abbey with a Procession of Knights of the Bath by Canaletto (1749)

Finally, going full-circle and returning to the world of maps and charts, here are 12 helpful charts for everyone Londoner to live their life by. Their chart for the DLR is particularly helpful and, quite frankly, a rule to live by:

Where Should I sit on the DLR

While others are, quite frankly, suitable for anywhere in Britain:

Should I Take An UmbrellaThis is a rule that’s particularly worth living by in Belfast…

Two Towers

London is full of skyscrapers, but mere muggles rarely get the chance to scale their heights. I have fond memories of the day (courtesy of a friend made via Twitter) that I lunched atop of the Gherkin, but until a couple of weeks ago, that had been the extent of my tower escapades in London. [Note to self: must get around to visiting the Shard. Everyone else already seems to have gone.]

The first tower was simply chance. I’m spending a lot of time at Guy’s (and St Thomas’) hospital at the moment, thanks to a chaplaincy placement. But my first trip to the rather unattractive Guy’s Tower (its aesthetic is not improved by being directly adjacent to the Shard) was actually for my teeth, and it turns out that the oral surgery waiting room has some rather attractive views of the city, thanks to the department being spread across the 22nd and 23rd floors.

Shard & Guys See what I mean about the hospital? 

IMG_5300Looking across the city towards the London Eye. (Note: appalling weather.)

I’m hopeful that when I return for my wisdom tooth extraction in the new year (Jan 2nd to be precise – nothing like oral surgery to kick off a new year!) the weather will be less grey and dismal, so I’ll be able to take better photos. Although, given that I’m in and out of the tower at the moment (twice this week), I should be there some day when it’s nicer. It’s got to be said that I think the views must help patients. Wouldn’t you feel better if you could see the London skyline from your hospital bed?

Within 24 hours after these photos were taken, I found myself on floor 34 of the BT Tower for the Ask Dec event. I love the BT Tower – in fact, I can see it from my bed. But it’s not open to the public, so getting the opportunity to see its views was most definitely something to be grasped with both hands! The invitation to the event encouraged us to make the most of the views, and it’s got to be said that getting a 365 degree panorama was quite something. It helped that the weather was a massive improvement to the day before…

IMG_5308Looking out over Senate House and the British Museum (the green dome) towards the city. My building can just about be viewed – beyond Russell Square (the trees by Senate House), which was nice.

IMG_5318Regent’s Park on the left and the Euston Tower on the right. 

IMG_5320The Euston Road turns into Marylebone Road, with Regent’s Park adjacent to it. (And Primrose Hill in the distance.)

IMG_5321The streets of Marylebone. This was a sentimental shot. See the church tower on the far right with a golden top? (They’re angels.) That’s Marylebone parish church, which is next to my secondary school and could be viewed (and heard) from my Methodist office desk. Further back and to the left is the spire of St Mary’s, my pre-vicar school church. Ah, memories…

IMG_5317UCL looking rather impressive. King’s Cross emerging behind it. 

Love it! I wish I’d had more time to take it all in, but that wasn’t really the purpose of my visit. I had to really concentrate hard on the Q&A and not let myself get distracted by the views!

Ten years? Actually?

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the release of the now classic Love, Actually. Yes, I’ll give you a minute to get over the shock of that news. Ten years. Ten. Whole. Years.


We know it’s 2013, and that therefore 2003 was a decade ago, but am I alone in disbelieving this fact? This time 10 years ago I was coming to the end of my first term studying a MA at King’s, back in London after a year’s exile working in a bookshop in Gloucester. My internet was still dial-up; MSN Messenger was my primary form of communication between friends; Tony Blair was still PM; there were still new episodes of Friends, SATC & Dawson’s Creek to be watched… Can it really be a whole ten years ago??

I remember the release of Love, Actually vividly and for good reason. On the night of its world premiere (in London), I was babysitting a toddler in a flat in Muswell Hill, while her whole family (grandmother – my landlady; parents; aunt & uncle) attended the premiere, thanks to a fortuitous social connection. I still remember receiving a phone call that began “Elizabeth, remember I mentioned we might have tickets for the premiere of that new Richard Curtis film?” and wondering if I was about to be offered one of them – but no, I instead landed a lucrative babysitting job. [Angela, my landlady, always called me Elizabeth. I wasn’t in trouble, she just preferred it.]

56 year old Angela and I had a mutual love of one of the film’s stars. Not Hugh Grant, Bill Nighy or even Colin Firth – Alan Rickman. [I have explained before that love of the Rickman crosses several generations.] That night, Angela had her photo taken with the lovely Alan. When she showed it to me there were girly squeals from both of us!

Ten years later, my memories of Love, Actually‘s arrival into the world are bittersweet. Less than five years after I moved out of Angela’s house, she lost her battle with lung cancer. Every year, when I have my annual present wrapping while watching Love, Actually evening, I think of her.

I’m not the only person to have realised that the film is celebrating its entry into double figures – the lovely people at The Hairpin spotted it too, and marked the occasion with a series of stories imagining where the lead characters are now, accompanied by fabulous gifs of pivotal moments in the film.

10YearsSarahTell me this isn’t one of the best scenes? And who hasn’t one of those moments themselves?? 

And where is Sarah? 

“That Valentine’s Day she dined alone. A bottle of wine and five courses to herself. It wasn’t until the second that she realized a man two tables away had the same idea. By the third, she decided she would ask him to join her. By the fourth, she did. By the fifth, she was certain. By dessert, so was he.”

In France the other week, someone shared a story in their sermon about their son who’d insisted on being a dinosaur in his primary school’s nativity plays. Obviously, the line “Eight is a lot of legs, David.” sprung to mind immediately. So, in his honour – and in honour of all parents who are discovering what part their little darlings will be playing this year (is it just me, or has this been all over Facebook in the last week?), here’s the scene that changed our nativity play imaginations forever:

And actually, one last thing. You know what’s fun? Listening to the film’s soundtrack (by which I mean the score, as opposed to the songs – although both All You Need is Love and All I want For Christmas are fabulous) while wondering around the Christmassy streets of London, imagining that I’m living the plot of a Richard Curtis movie. Let me say again, Richard Curtis gave me unrealistic expectations about life! 

My suspension of disbelief does not extend to geography…

I was slightly dubious of whether Richard Curtis’ latest offering would captivate me in the way that Love, Actually or Four Weddings continues to do so. It had received some negative reviews and appeared to be more of a ‘male’ film than a chick-flick rom-com. Oh, and Curtis had done himself no favours by revealing in an interview that 500 Days of Summer was one of his favourite films. [See here for reasons why I strongly disagree with such an opinion.] But, following a positive Kermodian review, I was keen to see it.

The stars aligned last Friday, when, with time to kill on my day off, and intention to visit Stratfield (Stratford Westfield, for the uninitiated) later that day, a showing was timed perfectly. It was meant to be.

About-Time-UK-Quad-Poster-585x443A friend of mine has apparently been put off seeing the film by the use (or non-use) of capitalisation on the poster…

About Time has a plot that revolves around time-travel, which was another reason for my hesitation. I’m still of the mindset that The Time Traveller’s Wife is the most perfect example of such a plot. (So much so that I still can’t bear to watch the film lest the book be ruined forever.) Would it get silly? Would it go all sci-fi? Would I be able to suspend my disbelief for long enough that I could become absorbed in a tale that realistically could never happen?

I can confirm that no, it did not get silly. No, it did not go all sci-fi. And yes, I was able to suspend my disbelief around time travel, and Curtis’ associated rules about it, for long enough to become both totally absorbed and virtually unconsolable at the plot’s end.

Rules? Everyone who writes about time-travel has to have rules. In the TTW the time traveller always sheds his clothes when travelling through time; he arrives in the precise state he was in in the future; and he can’t control when or how the travelling takes place. Back to the Future has its own set – I’d explain them, but I’m not that much of a geek. For one to be able to suspend their disbelief, one needs a set of rules that outline the parameters within which this works – time travel doesn’t exist, but at least if there are rules, one can pretend it does. So, in About Time, the male line of one family find themselves able to travel back in time by standing in a dark place and clenching their fists. Once they start having children, they can’t go back to before the child was born otherwise it’s a different sense. Totally logical – and, in the case of the latter rule, it emerges to be totally heart-wrenching.

So, last Friday, I blissfully ignored the rules of physics and wholeheartedly submerged myself in a world in which men travel through time in order to pursue the loves of their lives. However, I snapped out of my other-world-ness when time-travel was required to return to a party taking place in Collingham Gardens, South Kensington…

London is the main character in most Curtis films and About Time is no exception. I love seeing places I recognise, and visit frequently – heck, I even wonder if I might appear completely by chance. (One major plot point in the film involves the unusual restaurant in which a friend had their birthday meal a couple of years ago – I feel like she was way ahead of the game.) You may have no idea where Collingham Gardens is – it’s a fairly typical Kensington terraced street, full of delightful and large white houses with balconies – but I do, because I go there at least once a week. In the middle of Collingham Gardens is a church, the very church into which my theological college moved this time last year. As soon as the name was uttered I gasped in surprise – much to my neighbours’ confusion. (A pair of teenage girls who were irritating throughout, I’m glad I startled them.) In case you think I’m a weirdo, I discovered on Monday that a friend from college did the exact same thing when she saw it the following day – we spent part of our lunch break trying to work out which building they’d used.

Here’s the thing, following their attendance at a party in the aforementioned street, the couple central to the plot then walk all the way to Maida Vale. I may walk huge distances in London, but all of a sudden my mind was pondering whether it was actually within the realms of reality to walk from Collingham Gardens to Maida Vale tube station. The main character had just travelled from the Tate Modern three weeks in the future in order to be at this party, but what did I have an issue with? A possibly unrealistic use of London geography!

It bothered me so much that after the film (and after the obligatory check for mascara that may have run down my cheeks while sobbing), I looked it up on Google maps. According to Google, the walk would take 1 hour 6 minutes, which in a romantic post-dinner, first date scenario is pretty believable.

Collingham Gardens to Maida Vale The beauty of this map is that you can also see the route I take home from Collingham Gardens. My 5 mile walk takes me along the A4 (Brompton Road & Piccadilly) and the A401 (Shaftesbury Ave) and takes me around 1 hour 30mins. It’s a joy.

Richard Curtis, I apologise. You know London (and probably Kensington) well enough not to include spurious or incorrect geographical references in your work. Thank you for making such a lovely, yet emotionally wrangling film. Next time, could you consider providing post-film counselling? It would be much appreciated.