A couple of small curiosities seen while walking in England.
First, I was staying in London, in Highgate, with my pals Martin and Judy Bax. It’s a fairly posh, leafy bit of suburbia, so I wasn’t surprised to find that their street was part of a Neighbourhood Watch area, as was proved by signs like this on some of the lampposts.
The image of the meerkat was a new one on me, though I subsequently saw it in other parts of London, and I suppose the idea is that meerkats are sociable and watchful, but they’re also likeable and essentially benign. They’re not like, say, spies for Big Brother.
At the end of Martin and Judy’s street however there’s the entrance to a tube station, where walkers are being watched by these things.
Now, there’s nothing likeable and benign about these things. These are serious, heavy duty security cameras, this is surveillance. Somebody’s got to keep an eye on things, right? You can walk the street under the friendly gaze of the meerkat, but once you get to the tube station you know you’re really being watched.
And here’s another thing. I went for a walk in London with Richard Lapper, an old school friend from Sheffield, now a journalist with the Financial Times. He lives in Limehouse, in a former gunpowder warehouse, and he led the way. I didn’t have a map, which meant that for once, I really didn’t have any idea where I was or where I was going. There was something rather pleasant about this, since I’m so often the man with the plan.
I know that we were in the Lea Valley for some of the time, and we walked through Victoria Park, and we went by various canals, and we saw the Olympic Stadium from a distance, a few ruined warehouses, and some very fancy-looking apartments, and at a certain point on the home stretch I saw something floating along the canal, and it was this, a cut out letter, an “I.”
This was, for sure, not so very remarkable in itself. However a few years back, I was having a walk with Steve Kenny, another of my old school pals, along the canal in Sheffield, and we happened to see a different letter floating along the top of the water. In this case, the letter “Y.”
It seems that the universe is sending me a message, one letter at a time.