Friday, October 04, 2013

[The Life of Shaun #480] The Life of Shaun Omnibus

It's been a busy couple weeks in London town - visitors, trips and outings in quick succession.  Pops came for a visit (an escape, really), but as it was unplanned, we had to maneuver around my pre-existing plans, but we still managed some good times and have done our bit to keep the Dean Swift in business for another quarter.

Almost as soon as Dad arrived, though, I was off to the greater Maasbree-Kessel area of The Netherlands to visit Lottie and Rob, and to meet their son, Tijl.  Lottie and Rob moved to the area for the quality of life and to be near family upon starting one of their own, so it's low in my classic diversions, but the weekend was perfect.  I had lots of fine wine with Lottie, watched X Factor, relaxed, went to a modern art museum (in a disused factory, a la Tate Modern) and did my best to resist Tijl's charms.  We maintain we will do more next time I am there, but I'm not so sure - it was just what I needed.

Tijl on the stage

The "Tate" Greater Maasbree

Dutch art

Central Roermond, Lottie's nearest city.  I don't understand what she sees in it.

Lottie photoshopped a picture of me in her kitchen.

The next weekend was London Open House, a cool annual event where famous (and not-so-famous, but often interesting) buildings open themselves up for people to view and explore.  Every year I intend to see one or two, and have always failed, either defeated by a hangover, apathy, or walking up to one and finding it closed.  But this year I saw two: Lloyd's (which I've wanted to see for years) and Battersea Power Station (which had its first and last Open House this year as it's due to begin renovation this year).

I adore the Lloyd's building; it modern and industrial and strong.  It strikes strongly against its surroundings (though less so which each new pinnacle built around it), but compliments rather than detracts.  It's London's Pompidou.

Lloyd's was originally a coffee house where all things nautical were discussed and sea business conducted.  It evolved over time to an insurance exchange, which is what is housed in the Lloyd's Building today.  This pic is of the Lutine Bell, which is rung when there is major news, once for good, twice for bad.  Lloyd's is steeped in tradition, and this is one that lingers from the days before mass communication, so that everyone on the trading floor could learn of relevant news at the same moment.

A nod to tradition, a dining room from an older building transferred to the new.

Where the worker bees are housed.

Pops playing the role of a working stiff.

Quite surprisingly to modern sensibilities, London was all too willing to build giant polluting power stations in the centre of the city when electricity was an exciting new topic.  Naturually, these became disused and derelict and are ripe for demolition so that the sites can become shiny new towers.  Somehow at least two survived the brutalistic planning rage of the 60s/70s.  As a result, we have the Tate Modern, a sublime and successful example of urban redevelopment through repurposing.  Partly as a result of this success, the more famous Battersea Power Station (you might know it from the cover of Pink Floyd's album Animals) has lain dormant while different schemes across the crackpot spectrum were proposed for it.  

Finally, and inevitably in today's London, it has been decided the Power Station and its surrounding site will be developed into luxury flats for Russians, Arabs and Chinese, complete with an extension of the Northern Line so their cooks, cleaners and chauffeurs can get to work.  We are promised it won't become a walled-off development, but will extend the river and Battersea Park public spaces.  Chancing that mightn't be the eventual reality, I braved the queue to have a look inside while I could.

The station's landmark chimneys, from the inside.

This was my favourite thing - the Art Decoesque murals inside.  What a lovely touch to a dim, dirty working space.

One of the massive turbine halls.

The backside.  I wonder if this is where the "affordable" units will be...


Shaun H. Coley |
At large in Las Vegas, NV
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