Sunday, 23 March 2014

All Change

The new £1 coin, shaped like an old threepenny bit as this is all it is worth now.

I used to be able to buy 2 ounces of American Hard Gums for threepence at the sweet shop on the way to school. Don't know what they would cost today and I wouldn't dare try to eat one anyway as it would certainly pull the fillings out of my few remaining teeth.

The reason for introducing the new coin is that it seems around 10% of the ones in circulation are fake. It doesn't help that there are a bewildering array of designs on the back of the current one so telling the real thing is a challenge. 

I have also found that the bank's decision to put fake coins that come into their possession back into circulation gives them an air of authenticity which is difficult to ignore.

It seems that there is going to be a public competition to design the back of the coin but as that was the method used to produce the confusing shambles we now have on the back of our present ones, I am not at all confident we are going to see anything we are going to enjoy. In any case, it is not intended to be introduced until 2017 and that gives the politicians plenty of time to make the whole exercise a waste of money by joining the Euro.

In for a Penny

In for a Pint. Hurrah for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. A whole penny off a pint  of beer means that my bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale which used to cost £3.20 will now only cost £3.19. As a result, I will be necking the stuff like there is no tomorrow.

Except of course, I won't. Neither will anyone else, will they? Firstly, 1p is not a lot in the great scheme of things and it is unlikely that pubs will pass on even this meager reduction to their customers. In fact, I would be willing to bet my shiny new penny that the price goes up again some time in the near future. Any takers?


Let no one else's work evade your eyes

(As the great Tom Lehrer once said)

I often like to have a trawl around to see the blogs published by other people with a local interest. Several of them add a link to mine and I would love to be able to return the courtesy but I have been unable to modify my blog page to do it. Every time I try, I finish up with a long list of single words down the side of the page and nothing I do seems to be able to change it. I know it's possible, as other blogs have shown, but so far it has managed to escape me. I have to make do with the occasional reference, like now.

One of the blogs I like to look at is A Take on Thamesmead by Max Lehman. He does what I began trying to do which was to point out the problems of neglect and under investment in Thamesmead. Unlike me however, he does it much more professionally and with a lot of obvious in depth research that I cannot be bothered with. I just happen across a mess, take a picture then have a moan. If you want a more informed account of what is going on in the neighbourhood you should read his blog.

Another blog well worth looking at comes by way of Jones the Planner. His reference to the development of Woolwich is well worth reading and also presented me with an interesting challenge when he was told by security staff that he couldn't photograph the new Greenwich Council Offices in Wellington Street, even from the outside. An opportunity for me to test my photographic skills and to stick two fingers up at officialdom is too good to resist.

For some time, I used to work in the Jobcentre in Wellington Street, across the road from the old council building which was (I thought anyway) a rather attractive red brick affair but was apparently not suitable any more. I watched it's demolition and the preparation of the new site but never got to see the new building go up so decided it was a good opportunity to go and investigate. I thought I would also have a look at the new Tesco building that he refers to in such scathing terms.
Greenwich Council Civic Offices
View from the front

View from the top of Wellington Street
I suppose the first impression when you see it is the incredible size of the building. If Greenwich Council wanted to make a statement they have succeeded in spades. It was very difficult to photograph in any way that captured the whole impression of the building and my efforts here will not win any prizes, I don't think. It seems to be three buildings in one, with most of the front taken up by a vast glass front bottom half and a red brick top. I don't know if that was intended as some sort of tribute to the building it replaced. At the far end there seems to be a much lighter stone construction which runs over the top of the building. Then there is the slice of cheesecake perched at an odd angle on top. I imagine it will be the subject of some lively debate as new buildings often are but either love it or hate it, you could never miss it or mistake it for anything else. A bit like what people say about elephants - difficult to describe but you will know when you see one.

The new Tesco Extra shouldn't cause much disagreement. A genuinely awful monstrosity. Jones the Planner points out the ghastly sight meeting anyone leaving St Peter's in Woolwich New Road.
Tesco Extra shows it's bum the St Peter's.
This is the actual view, not an artists impression.
An interesting piece of psychological warfare is going on here. Large businesses usually place the less decorative parts of their operation out of site where they won't disturb the public.
Giant advertising hoarding in General Gordon Square
By placing this part of their store in full view on the high street they are making it perfectly clear what they think of every other business in town. This is the corporate version of dropping your trousers and exposing your bottom at the enemy in order to show your contempt. Anyone who has seen the brick front ASDA presented to shoppers in Bexleyheath Broadway will be familiar with the tactic.

Peace, Love and the Town Centre

Schrodinger's Roundabout
I've been reading a number of stories about the new road layout in Bexleyheath, most of them unfavourable. 

I have little cause to ever visit the place and rarely do, so I never had any reason to take much interest but today I had to drive through the town on my way elsewhere. I joined the back of a long queue of traffic in Church Road waiting to turn into the Broadway and after about ten minutes, finally arrived at the scene of all the controversy.

Holy Moly! What a shambles.

My first impression was that I had entered a time warp back to the 1960's and been delivered into the middle of a 'happening'. I don't know what the person designing the layout of the road was smoking at the time but it must have been some seriously good shit. 

You have to drive over a pedestrian crossing that isn't a pedestrian crossing and onto a Mandala sitting in the middle of the road which may be a roundabout, but then again, may not be. While I was trying to decide whether I should be driving on it or meditating on it, other drivers were either using it as a roundabout or a junction according to personal whim. I believe it follows the principal in quantum mechanics where an object can exist it two states at the same time until it is observed, collapsing the probability wave. 

Schrodinger's Roundabout can prove the Copenhagen interpretation without being cruel to cats. It's a pretty scary thought though, that every time anyone chooses one state over the other, they create an entirely new Universe.

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