Friday, 31 July 2009

Crossings of the Thames 23b - Finding London Bridge

(Continued from yesterday's post)

The sale of 'new' London Bridge and its subsequent relocation to the USA is probably the most famous example of London Bridge being reused. However, due to the distance involved to the inhabitants of this fair city, there are a few other places in London where you can spot the old bits and bobs that were London Bridge.

The Museum of London is a good place to start. While there is a lot of refurbishment kicking in at the moment, this institution still provides valuable resource regarding London's past. Of course, London Bridge is featured in scraps throughout the museum, you saw the photos in yesterday's post. More interestingly, a piece of the Old stone crossing sits in the museum's medieval section:

While we are on the subjects of Museum's, also head down to the Museum in Docklands if you want to find out more on London Bridge as well as London in general. A fascinating museum and definitely somewhere to which I will be heading back to...

Anyhow, back to the city itself. Let us be honest, if you want to see the Old London Bridge, then head down to Old London Bridge. The modern day bridge is slightly to the west of the famous stone structure, so you can do as so many Londoners have done in the past and head under the arches of St Magnus towards the river Thames, along the alignment of the old river crossing, unhindered by modern day traffic flows.

As the plaque on the church wall proudly proclaims, the churchyard formed the approach to the original London Bridge. As you walk down Fish Hill Street and pass beneath the church's arches, you can appreciate just how narrow the old crossing over the Thames actually was. London Bridge itself is one of two crossings to have a church on either side of it, with St Magnus the Martyr in the City and Southwark Cathedral on the South Bank.

(Is this a piece of Old London Bridge sitting in St Magnus' courtyard? Who knows?)

My final set of travels around London took me back to the East End in order to find a few pieces of Old London Bridge, still well utilised today. Victoria Park seems an unlikely spot to house such historical relics, but if you head towards the Lock House Gate, you will see two little stone alcoves in the park. Providing shelter to Londoners today, as they have always done, they were removed from the old bridge and in 1860 placed in the surrounding greenery to continue what they had done best. Keeping the populace dry.


Getting there and away:

The Museum of London is in The City, close to St Paul's and Moorgate stations. Entry is free, and while a lot of the museum is closed for repairs, it still is an excellent place to visit.

The Museum in Docklands is just outside the Canary Wharf complex, the nearest stations being Westferry and West India Quay on the Docklands Light Railway. It costs £5 to enter, but the ticket is valid for a year. One of the best museums that I have visited in the capital, it tells a lot about the history of London, and its role as a port. London Bridge features heavily in the exhibits.

There is a 'London Bridge Experience', built into the bridge. But having seen that tickets cost up to £20 a pop, I did not bother visiting it.

St Magnus' church is a minute's walk from Monument station, and makes a pretty little detour on your way round the Square Mile.

Victoria Park is huge and there are a variety of way in which you can approach the park. If you want to get to Lockhouse Gate, then you can walk from Bow Road/Church stations (20 minutes) or take bus routes 8, 276 or 488 to the park itself.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Crossings of the Thames 23a - London Bridge

Normally, my series of crossings on the River Thames follows the chronological order downstream. The pattern should have been Westminster Bridge, Hungerford Bridge and now Waterloo Bridge. However, as this month saw the 800th anniversary of Old London Bridge, which was the first stone crossing over the Thames. Given this event, I thought it appropriate, not only to visit London Bridge, but to find out how much of the various bits of bridges were hanging about our fair city.

I am going to be blunt. The modern day London Bridge is an ugly, but functional structure. Six lanes of traffic and two wide footpaths connect The City with Southwark. Built in the 1960's, it has all the inspiration of that era. But the magic of London Bridge does not come from its present, but from its past. There is arguably no other structure as significant as London Bridge with relation to the history and the formation of this metropolis. Without London Bridge, London would not be the city that it is. The structure of the city, its growth and geographical layout, the divisions of the urban area that it is today. Even the positioning and status of the suburbs would not have been as it is, had it not been for London Bridge. The story of London Bridge is interwoven with the history of the city. There has been at least six incarnations of a solid crossing at or close to the present position of London bridge, probably a few more to boot. At least one during the Roman period, a minimum of two during the Saxon/Danish and early Norman period (as they were timber, they were probably replaced fairly frequently). Then came Old London Bridge, followed by Rennie's Victorian replacement and today we have the modern day structure:

The history of London Bridge is a long and fascinating one and I am only going to briefly flirt with it. The Roman bridge was constructed out of timber, just a few yards to the east of the modern day construction. This becoming first crossing point of the Thames when coming up from the continent, giving Londinium an instant advantage as a meeting point of land and sea routes.

The bridge(s) constructed during Saxon/Danish times, after Lundenwic became Lundenburgh was an important structure as it was built not only for crossing the Thames but as a barrier for Viking raiders. This London Bridge was built with a shallow clearance which meant that the Viking longboats could no longer venture any further upstream along the Thames. The bridge not only served as a barrage but also as a handy place to hurl boulders on raiders coming upstream. This barrier was also significant as it also prevented sea faring trade from being able to go any further upstream than the Saxon town of Lundenburgh. London Bridge now marked the boundary between sea going traffic and inland movements, a division that is still in place today. In other words, if you want to see how the 'West End' and 'East End' began their divisions, look here to London Bridge. In a very handy way too for the people living here, if you wanted to move goods further inland, you had to change in London. Once again, it became a focal point of trading routes and the city prospered.

However, we cannot so easily skirt over Old London Bridge, the structure with longest incarnation on the site, and the one that really shaped the city we live in today. Old London Bridge, which was opened in 1209, stood firm on its Norman foundations until it was demolished in 1831. For over half a millennia, this structure took Londoners over the Thames and for much of its time housed a great many of the city's residents. It would have been magnificent to see it today, if it was able to stand, with its medieval buildings balancing precariously over the water. This iconic structure was the bridge that really shaped London for generations to come and can be argued to be the most significant building to have been ever constructed in London, past or present.

This bridge stood alone on the Thames until 1729 and it was not until you reached Kingston that you could cross the river without getting your feet wet. It had a monopoly on crossing the river, dry. If you want to know why South London is so backward, this is the culprit. Only one access point to the main city meant that land growth would be concentrated to the north of the river, in order to avoid the tolls and this notorious bottleneck. The City of London got a nice little earner from London Bridge and it was not until common sense prevailed in 1750 with the opening of Westminster Bridge that this stranglehold on London was finally broken. Obviously, money rather than common sense has blighted this city, which is why nothing really works in London. Old London Bridge is probably the reason why we in Britain drive on the left.

But all good things must come to an end, and it would inevitably be the Victorians that would do it. In 1831, a new bridge was constructed, slightly upstream of Old London Bridge. That necessitated a change in the layout of roads within the city, a change that is apparent today by the kink in the road as you are coming down Gracechurch street towards the Thames:

(Old London Bridge went down to the left, in a straight line towards The Monument, while the modern bridge means that alignment of roads in The City has changed).

However, due to Old London Bridge's structure, the river Thames was effectively bottled up. There were so many piers that Old London Bridge hampered the river's flow. This led to a build up of silt and made the Thames a calm waterway. This meant that the Thames would easily freeze over leading to those famed frost fairs. Once Old London Bridge had been removed, the Thames no longer froze. Also, the river began to flow more rapidly. This rapid movement of water washed away the silt that had built up on the riverbed for over 600 years. Suddenly a lot of bridges in London had to be replaced including Westminster Bridge, Blackriars and Waterloo Bridges all had to be replaced when Old London Bridge came tumbling down (I told you that London Bridge impacted on this city in more than the obvious ways). So too did the 'New London Bridge' which was promptly demolished in the 1960's, with most of it being shipped off to Arizona USA. However, part of Rennie's bridge still stands on the Southwark end carrying traffic over Montague Street.

Despite the building of bridges along the Thames, London Bridge remained the easternmost solid crossing point until the Thames Tunnel was opened in 1843. And until Tower Bridge was built at the end of the 19th century, London Bridge remained the most easterly bridge along the river Thames. It is probably the reason why London's first railway terminus was built here and named after it in 1836.

And so we are here, in the 21st century, some 2000 years after the first crossing point along the Thames was constructed, pretty much at this point, give or take a few yards. Today, London Bridge, does not have the trading significance of old, now that the Port of London is effectively at Tilbury. Nor does it have the importance of being the only road crossing in London, with many more over the river. It is no longer an iconic structure, that mantle being taken with the more famous Tower Bridge. However, while it will probably never regain the significance it had of old, there is probably no other building or site in London that has had a more profound effect on the city that stands here today, than that of London Bridge.

Getting there and away:

The following buses serve London Bridge: 17, 21, 35, 40, 43 (24hr), 47, 48, 133, 141, 149 (24 hr), 343, 381, 521, RV1, N21, N35, N47, N133, N343 and N381. The nearest tubes are London Bridge (on the south bank) and Monument (on the north bank). The nearest railway line is London Bridge mainline station, and you can also get there via London Bridge pier on the ferry.

(Continued tomorrow...)

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Classic Compie Games (5)

The final one of this 'mini-series', and for me, the game that I have always seen in my dreams. While Sim City dominated my waking hours, I lived in the world of The Secret of Mana. This was a game that was all encompassing. I am a big RPG fan, they are the Graphic Novels of the video gaming world, with their in-depth story lines and fantastic elements. This is not just a couple of dragons, but myths with Japanese flair. Their RPG's have style as well as a message to tell, and the Secret of Mana was a game that was...well, more like taking part in a movie than a game. You got to love your characters, you did not feel you were moving pixels in an animated background, but was shaping the destiny of these wonderful people.

While Sim City 2000 encompassed my life, and Micro Machines entertained me, it was games like Zelda, and it was especially the Secret of Mana that opened my mind up to stories and possibilities beyond the norm. If anything shaped me as a writer when I was a child, it was these great Role Playing Games that definitely has a big impact on what I would choose to become...

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Classic Compie Games (4)

Altough I had a Mega Drive, I was not a big fan of the console. It was not as fun as the SNES, and years later, the games I fondly remember were not made by Sega. However, there was one game I remembered with particular fondness from this platform, and that was Micro Machines.

Although Mario Kart was the better racing game of the 1990's, Micro Machines was just a kick about. With friends (or younger siblings) it was pure simple fun, driving those little machines around ridiculous tracks, such as a household. The best bit was falling off the table and being creatively destructive when it came to racing. Pure fun!


Oh, and there is a reason why I no longer 'play' video games as a rule. Discovered how to get Sim City 2000 to work on my computer. The whole day was written off!


Monday, 27 July 2009

Classic Compie Games (3)

Remember the Gameboy? No, not the colour version, nor the slim downed one. The old, clunky, 4 AA battery powered monochrome version, that was released in the early 1990's with Tetris for free. It cost £70, an absolute fortune in those days, but I was one of the lucky few to first get one. The 1990's, those heady days, a battle ensued, not between good and evil, but between Nintendo and Sega. In the handheld market, there were two realistic options. The B&W Gameboy, or the fashionable colour screened Gamegear. The really rich kids got the Gamegear, but it did not last five minutes without a battery adapter. However, the Gameboy lasted an absolute lifetime on those four rechargeable batteries of mine...

And those four batteries came in useful when I came to play the only B&W version of Zelda, and the only Zelda adventure released onto the Gameboy unit - Link's Awakening.

I will be blunt. I loved Zelda, hell I still do. If I have any say in how my children are named, and if I happen to have a daughter, there is a good chance that she may be called so. It is the one thing I regret about stopping my video game days was never getting the chance to play Zelda 64, possibly the best game ever. But for now, let me confirm that this game, on the Gameboy, despite al the limitations, was officially and still has never been beaten as the best hand held game. Ever.

Zelda nurtured me, it exposed me to a world beyond the mundane, and the memories are more than fond. They were spectacular. Who ever realised one little cartridge could give so much joy!

Go on, check out the screener - feel the memories flood back!

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Classic Compie Games (2)

Oh, the memories! Flicking on my clunky P60, seeing MS-DOS light up the screen and then hunting for my floppy disk with the greatest simulated settlements ever created. Sweet! Many a month was spent, clicking away at the mouse, creating such towns as my utopian metropolis, an industrial hell hole, an island city, a string of villages and many more.

For anyone who played the original Sim City (me!), Sim City 200 was such a revolution in games playing. I do not think that any other sequel in the history of video games have come close to what SIm City 2000 did. The original Sim City was a great game, and in terms of the 'God-Like' simulations that have been available, it was ground breaking in what it achieved.

Sim City 2000 took all the best bits of Sim City (you are the lord and master of the city) and then gave you 3D-contour mapping, a range of building styles, a real look at the city's utilities, taxation powers that were intricate and complex and most importantly, the ability to build a tube network. Never underestimate the power (and cost) of building an underground network. Oh, and why the llama obsession the game? Fantastic memories, and while there have been better and more complex Sim City games, but Sm City 2000 was the revolution in both Sim City and of 'Creator Simulation' games as a whole. Fantastic fun, and far too much of my childhood lost here...

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Classic Compie Games (1)

It has been a long time since I have dared to touch a games console, such is my addictive fever to that style of time wasting. Despite the fact that I could easily afford a Wii or get a multitude of games for my computer, I have resisted the urge. Mainly due to my addictive personality. I spent far too much of my formative years with flat thumbs and square eyes. My weekends were spent glued to Digitiser gleaming the latest tips and teats. Handhelds in monochrome, 2-D graphics and cartridges dominated my games playing world. Oh, the memories...

And so, for the next few days, a little jaunt back down memory lane. To the time where the future lay ahead in a sea of fantasy and strategy. WHen I could spend a whole day doing nothing but stare at the screen, my brain flipping inside itself with little bits of stimuli. Oh, the innocence!

Friday, 24 July 2009

Not blogging

I've been good. Surprisingly. Since May 28th, I have been blogging everyday, continuously on this blog. That is nearly two whole months of ramblings for your viewing pleasure. Not bad. But yesterday I was in a 'meh' mood. I personally blame the weather. Too much of the jet-stream passing overhead with nothing to show for it. Another summer down the tubes, and considering it is August, just how long has this rotten heatwave lasted? One bloody week! Thats all! We had one week of sun in June and then it was goodbye 'good times', hello rain. Ugh, can this country not even do the weather right - it is what makes the UK so depressing - the lousy weather.

Wait, this was meant to be a blog about 'the blog' not about the climate.

So, yeah, my blog was pretty good. A whole month of India (to which I am returning), and nearly a whole month on other things, not all of it Caution Wet Paint related (despite it taking an overwhelming amount of my own time).

I have been watching an inordinate mount of movies recently. Both at the picture house and on DVD. Especially cartoons, for some reason I love the toons!

I'm out of here...

Wednesday, 22 July 2009


Someone was an idiot.

You see, while riding his bicycle, uphill, without hands on the handlebar, he decided to get a drink of water from his bag.


Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Comic Times

Firstly, there is a new comic in the air:

CWP Comic Issue 2 - The Bus Stop

Secondly, I enjoyed the comic so much, that I want to do a special issue later on, describing the behind the scenes events of that first comic book form...stick around and tune in ;)

Monday, 20 July 2009

Why I Love the Recession...

Firstly, I have an income.

This is an important facet, needed to enjoy a recession.

Secondly, I have no debt.

This is another factor in recession surfing.

Thirdly, I have no responsibilities in life.

Other than bills, this is what happens when you have a generation of people who do not own land. They just don't give a f**k!

So, why do I love the Recession?

Everything is cheap.

Look, I am not kidding you, everything is really inexpensive. You want a DVD in the shop, they are dirt cheap, classic titles for under a fiver! Books are cheap. And so my two main sources of pleasure, the movies and literature are easy to enjoy!

And more importantly, holidays are cheap. I have already come back from India, and I am heading back there this Autumn. Hey man, flights are cheap! As well as India, I am also off to Turkey in the winter, and I am planning a short break in Rome. Yes, I love showing off about my holidays, but why not? Do I really want to spend my time in this overpriced country?

And that is one of the big reasons for loving a recession. The actual reduction in prices. Especially since 2006, everything has been getting even more unaffordable on this island. The end of easily available credit (and my refusal to borrow) has meant that everything has been beyond my league for quite sometime. However, this year, I feel flush. In fact, at this moment in time, I am the perfect consumer - spending without thinking.

So for all the companies out there, why should I shop with you guys?

Sunday, 19 July 2009


It's not all hell, brimstone and fire when listening to the sermon in church...

'A wise man once said, the secret in life is to know what is necessary, to know what is not necessary and to know what is not necessary but yet provides a flavour of life.'

You see, despite the fact that I am normally rolling about in night shift, occasionally I do hear what is being said. I am not an overtly religious man, but sometimes, it is go dto listen to the experiences of others...

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Genie in a Bottle...

Anytime you take public transport, you will always see some miracle potion being advertised. Take this to make your blood funky, take that to make your bones strong. Pop this if you do sports, have a bit of this to perk you up in the day. And I wonder how many people actually take 'this' and 'that' to actually get through a day/life.

Anyhow, do we really need all these magic potions? The human body is remarkably resilient, and more importantly, we have access to a really good diet. Many of these advertised tablets are no better than supplements, which are in themselves next to useless in human terms. The body cannot absorb infinite amount of vitamins and minerals. Even water we expel after a while. The only thing the body is really good at absorbing is carbs/fat, which is why we put on weight so easily, it is humanity's in-built defence against famine. For example, two oranges contains more Vitamin C than the body can absorb in 24 hours.

But there is also something of the 'panic' in these ads. An urgency. Well, you get that in all adverts, but for a society that has access to relatively cheap and plentiful food, and a relatively sedentary lifestyle that preserves rather than exhausts our bodies, you have to ask, do we need all those pills and remedies? I am lucky, I have pretty good health, especially for someone with a body clock as screwed up as mine (thank shift work for that). And yes, while swine flu is going to sweep this country this year, this is not 1918. We are a healthier bunch of people than we were 90 odd years ago.

More importantly, why spend money on a pill to enhance the iron in my blood, when I can have a good steak?

Friday, 17 July 2009

Lego in London, and other mumblings for the weekend...

It has been a long time since I hung around the back streets of St Giles. You know, the bit where Shaftesbury Avenue heads up towards the Brit Museum? Yes, no? All right, well, there has been quite a bit of redevelopment around St GIles over the past few years. It has been a while since I last went up there with a camera, but I saw what has been going on behind the hoardings and this is it:

WtF? It's a lego building! You know, lego, the little plastic blobs that you fix together. Wow! How funky! Ugly, but bloody funky!


Okay, in addition to the lost generation, here's an article in the Economist about what I was saying yesterday. Look, no politician is going to save us, their snouts are deep in that trough. We have to help ourselves. Oh dear...


And finally, something light hearted to take all the gloom of this weekend. Lost Cities! Take a peek at the link from the provider of Boris' chicken feed. And in that list, shockingly, I have visited one of them - yey!


Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, 16 July 2009

The Lost Generation...

Let's cut the bullshit. There is no fast economic recovery, we are well and truly in a depression. There cannot be this many unemployed in a recovery, so let me go back to my original claim and stick by it - this is a full blown depression.

I do not know if we are going into soup kitchen mode, but definitely, people are loosing jobs and work is hard to come by. I am one of the lucky ones, I still have a job. It may not be great, but at the moment I know that I have an income coming in. I have no debts and to be honest, my spending has actually increased since the depression began, as I have been taking advantage of the price reductions. Things I could not afford during the boom years (expensive electronics, cool holidays) have suddenly become accessible to someone on my income again.

So yeah, we, as a generation. Anyone from 20-40, but particularly those born between 1975-85 are fucked. This is a time when we came in too late to take any real advantage of the boom years and if we latched onto the system at that time (such as bought property), we are now getting shafted by the depression. But then, one thing, we actually chose to go into this system. And there in, lies the rub.

We only suffer as a generation, as we are not brave enough to change our own lives. We have all chosen to follow a system that is quite clearly broke and more seriously, will not provide us with any happiness. Look around you on the tube on your commute, you know that no one is happy with their lives. I am certainly far from happy, but I know that happiness will not come from a politician's lies, nor will it come from following the crowd. However, it will take real courage for all of us to change our lives. Otherwise, the best years of our existence on this planet are to be lost chasing a life that is no longer there...

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Random Post

Firstly, is it now okay to like the Spice Girls, some ten years after the fad passed us by? Or should I be ashamed of my love for turn of the century kitsch? And talking about turn of the century, can you believe that we are nearly through the first decade of the third Millennium AD? And why does my wireless keyboard suck at transmitting the letters that I type onto this page? Do you really think that all the spelling mistakes on this blog is simply due to my own incompetence?

But randomness aside, how are you, the reader of this blog? I generally ask for a stack of comments back to see who actually reads this. It is remarkable, that while people who I meet 'in the flesh' tell me that they read these spoutings, it is amazing just how few comments are left here. And talking about the real world, do you know there is a banana tree growing outside in London? With this current climate (another s**t summer to look forward to?), I am shocked that it has not withered and died.

For mangoes, betel nuts and some funky basil, then head to Bloomsbury and see the Indian Garden at the Brit Mus...

Anyhow, other than random wanders through London and more insight from the world of CWP I was asked, a couple of months back, by El Maestro, what I will be getting up to, now that there is no such immediate creative pressure. I suppose I could pass a comment on the worse of the recession being over. Oh yes, those famous green shoots. What is amusing (in a not-so-funny way) is how many in this part of the world are treating the depression as nothing more serious than a downsizing in our favourite brand of cereal. 'The Credit Crunch'. The fundamentals of having an economy which produces nothing and is dependent on borrowing to actually live has not been addressed. Still, why bother knotting my brow? There are far more important things to do . I am off to Istanbul this winter! Yey!!!

Oh, and while I am in the free-spending mode, why not another visit to India in the Autumn? Well, I can (shockingly) afford it. Before Sterling drops to its realistic price, why not spend it like a drunkard before 'le crunch'.

I better post a tweet. How about, just took a leak - a classic use of precious bandwidth. To think that the internet is publicised, not as a way to further humanity, nor as a cheap repository of other people having sex. It is a place where people can share the most inane details of their life, online, with a billion other drones. Well, what else am I meant to convey in 140 characters or less? The inner workings of the universe? Well, I suppose that anything is possible. I could dance with the fairies and sing with a couple of sopranos, but to be honest, my voice is better left 'off' than 'on'.

I think I should eat cake. As a child I was denied cake. The fallout of having a mother who worked night shifts. So in retirement, cake is now in abundance. Diabetic joy. Other diseases that I am genetically susceptible to include high blood pressure, heart disease and anything affecting the respiratory tract. Cancer, at this moment in time, seems thankfully a distant thought. Talking about my lungs, odds on, now that I am in Swine Flu central, I will probably get it this winter. Joy. So I have a good chance of copping it before fulfilling all the things I want to do in my life. Travel the Congo River, get slapped about by a matriarchy and listen to live one of my musicals LIVE. But at least Jay and Kay are out there saving the world, for now...

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Monday, 13 July 2009

Caution Wet Paint the Comic Strip, and other things cinematic...

First of all, let me introduce to you, the first issue of the Caution Wet Paint Comic Strip:

CWP Comic Issue 1 - Introducing Jay and Kay

It is just a small project, a spin-off to the short films, but something that will hopefully grow. Every Monday, I will be posting a new comic so tune in!


Now the cast and crew should also be getting copies of the DVD, so their feedback will slowly be coming through. It has been a long time since I have any formal contact, mainly due to the fact that I have been hard at post-production. I will also be organising a meet-up date sometime in the future.


Website, slightly updated to reflect a few addition, mainly the comic strip, but also new trailers, and putting out new contact details for ease.


And finally, a quick new webisode, showing the out takes, is currently being edited.


Also, and of course, more film festivals. Distribution is important at this stage of the film making process!

Saturday, 11 July 2009

So Charlie, are you still making films then?

The answer is very much YES!

Despite the recent posts on this blog which seem to be related to me wandering near and far, my main preoccupation in life has been filming, hence the name, El Director! Lately, I have not mentioned film making on this blog, mainly as I have been writing daily about the process of film making on the dedicated blog to Caution Wet Paint. And if yu want to see what I am getting upto in the world of film, it is usually a god idea to see that webpage, as I almost certainly update it on a daily basis.

So, what have I been getting up to in the world of film? Well, the adventures of Jay and Kay have continued into the world of Hi-Definition. In March I shot the main sequence and since then I have been editing This week, I put the final touches to the DVD that is currently being sent off to film festivals. At ten minutes long it is the longest incarnation of Jay and Kay to date. Go to the CWP website, and you can have a proper gander.

But why haven't I talked about it. Well, to put it simply, I have actually been busy with the making of the film. Jay and Kay Save the World has taken up pretty much every waking thought of mine for the past third of this year, and I have been busy with the pre-production since 2008. All in all, I really want to talk about something else when I write this blog, hence the seemingly odd distractions for a director.

But there is also one other very good reason why I have not spoken much about the latest incarnation of Caution Wet Paint. Quite simply, I am terrified. For if the latest short from the CWP stable does not work, that is it, the idea is finished, dead in the water. And all the effort, all the highs and lows of the past two years, the fun and advancement that I have had with Caution Wet Paint would be for nothing. What started off as a brief showing the Canary Wharf FIlm Festival has actually given me my first real taste of the film industry. And it is a big, bad world to try and conquer. I have continued with Caution Wet Paint, partly as success breeds success but also as I actually enjoy making it. But two years later, all will be revealed. Is Caution Wet Paint the key to the promised land, or will the efforts of the past two years prove to be futile, an extensive cu-de-sac on the road of life.

You may begin to see why I have not mentioned much about film making on this blog recently.

So what happens if all else fails? Well, to be honest, I am not going to face up to that possibility. I have only just started the distribution and there will be a lot of twists and turns before this road is finished. This will occur that I can not yet foresee, but for the moment I will remain cautiously optimistic. I know what the strengths and weaknesses of this latest film are. They were the same pros and cons that I planned for in the Pre-production stage. In essence, the film making world is now out of my hands. For a director with no contacts, I am being a little ballsy with my ideas, but ultimately Caution Wet Paint has come as far as I can take it. Whatever will happen to this idea, this concept and to my film making career in general is no longer in my hands...

Friday, 10 July 2009

The Parkland Walk/Northern Heights (3) - Highgate to the Ally Pally!

The second half of the Parkland Walk takes on a much more quiet feel. It is the more deserted end of the track, being separated from the first half by Highgate itself. It is either a scrabble through Queens Wood or a quick stroll (or bus ride if you are the lazy type) down Muswell Hill Road until you reach the rest of the abandoned section of the Northern Heights past Cranleigh Gardens. Don't worry, it is all signposted, and well worth the detour to the second half of the Parkland Walk.

The reason why the Parkland Walk are two distinct trails instead of one flowing walk is that part of the Northern Heights are actually used by the Northern Line today, as they emerge from the tunnels to the open air of North London suburbia. For the geeks in you (me included), the tunnel that begins to the north of Highgate station runs all the way to Morden in South London, a length of some seventeen miles which makes it one of the longest tunnels in the world! The Northern Heights that are currently in use in Highgate are also used by Northern Line trains as sidings. Oh well, trust logistics to spoil a good walk!

However, while the walk may be quieter and with less spectacular artistic sights, the views across North London are still pretty amazing. One of the things I love most about the Parkland walk is the view across the rooftops of the residences of North London. And it is shocking how many attic conversions seem to be bolted onto the back of every house in this part of the world!

This unassuming subway in Muswell Hill marks the end of the Parkland Walk itself and it is as far as the old track bed was left to nature. All in all, there is over four miles of nature and woodland to explore. But this subway need not mark the end of your journeys. For head underneath it into a whole new world...

If you take a look at yesterday's post, you will see that the map shows the Northern Heights eventually reaching the Alexandra Palace. Since I have never visited this famed sight beforehand, I thought that now was the time to get my own act together and take a visit to one of North London's premier destinations, set in the grounds of the delightful Alexandra Park!

Just to give a brief history. The Ally Pally, as it is fondly known, was built in the 19th Century, as the North London equivalent to Crystal Palace. Like the Crystal Palace, it also suffered a fire, but unlike its South London cousin, it was rebuilt and remains in use to this day. We happened to stumble across a Cypriot Festival. Another interesting note to add is that the Alexandra Palace was the location of the first regular TV broadcasts in the world by the BBC. So, there is quite a lot of significance in terms of world entertainment, here in this lovely patch of North London.

One thing that is great about the Ally Pally is the park itself and the wonderful views across into Central London itself. The skyscrapers of Docklands and The City are easy to spot, even on a cloudy day. The vantage point is breathtaking, and one of the better views in the suburbs of the city. This is definitely a place that I will be returning to sometime in the future...


Getting there and away:

Highgate Stations (Northern Line) and Finsbury Park (Victoria/Picadilly Line) both serve as useful places to join the Parkland Walk. Finsbury Park itself is only few minutes walk from the southern end of the Parkland walk and makes a useful jumping off stage.

The Parkland Walk IS RURAL, so there are no refreshments along the route. However, you are in the middle of North London, and a place to grab a bite to eat is never more than a few minutes away by foot.

The best way to the Alexandra Palace is to hop on the W7 bus which goes through Alexandra Park itself.


Part 2 of the Northern Heights/Parkland Walk

Part 1 of the Northern Heights/Parkland Walk - my original visit in March to part of the route.

My wanderings around the Dollis Brook Viaduct, a part of the Northern Line today and the original Northern Heights plan

Thursday, 9 July 2009

The Parkland Walk/Northern Heights (2) - Finsbury Park to Highgate

Four months ago, I took a random wander round North London along an abandoned bit of the Northern Line known as the Parkland Walk. To give a sense of just of the route, here is a map of the Northern Line had the extensions actually been fully opened.

The Parkland Walk has fascinated me for a long time. An abandoned bit of railway threading its route through some of North London's most desirable neighbourhoods, but I have never been able to take the time out to complete the whole walk until a couple of weeks ago when I found myself with a spare Sunday. And why not wander down to the railway tracks and see where the tube used to run...

A lot of the old features remain on the track bed that show the evidence of its previous use as a functioning railway. Abandoned platforms, old bridges, embankments and tunnels. It is a fascinating wander for anyone with the slightest interest in trains. Just to see the structure of the line, the way that a railway is constructed is a way to satisfy the curiosity when you look out of a train window.

The Parkland Walk's primary objective seems to be that of a linear nature reserve that threads its way through North London. And it is true, it provides an excellent green lung to the city, a strange oasis of wildlife where you can hear the birds sing among the tree tops that have grown up along the trackside over the past half century. Creepers that have grown up against tunnel walls and playgrounds surrounded by shrubbery. A semi-state of wilderness amongst the orderly buildings of the city.

But it also is home to more than just wildlife. After all, this is North London, a creative melting pot of talent that has used the old structures along the parkland walk to great effect. Whether wonderful, or plain weird, the graffiti along the trackside is simply spectacular. And for once it is great that the trustees of the walk have not whitewashed the walls, but have kept the art work as they are.

An interesting look into the minds of North London's denizens, expression and fantasy rolled into one, alongside the nature that is the Parkland Walk. This first section of the walk from Finsbury Park itself through the hills of Highgate is enjoyable on so many levels. Whether as a slow summer stroll or a quick jog through, the Parkland Walk provides not only a beautiful journey through North London but ultimately a fascinating one.

A lot of the trackbed is elevated and so some great views over the surrounding streets can be had. So before I end this blog post, let me ask you, the reader this. Have any of you seen the top of a lamp post? Anyone? Well, unless you work for a local council's maintenance department, probably not, so, here for you, my humble reader, is the top of a typical street light.

At the Highgate end, you reach a set of tunnels that firmly reminds you what the original purpose of this park was. That of a tube line. The tunnels themselves are shut off to the casual visitor, so all you can do is peer down and create wonderfully immature echoes along its reverberating path. The Parkland walk continues, after Highgate and takes you onward to the Alexandra Palace. But that, is another blog post...

My original visit to the Parkland Walk/Northern Heights from Stroud Green to Finsbury Park.

My visit to the Dollis Brook Viaduct - another section of the Northern Line that was once a part of the Northern Heights Plan.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

6 Degrees of Separation?

When this phrase, 6 Degrees of Separation are uttered, we bemusedly take this into account and think how many links are betwen us and someone important, say, Obama or Britney Spears. But ho0w many of us have thought of going in the other direction? How many degrees of separation exist between us and a homeless person? Or a junkie? Even more interesting, how may degrees of separation are there between a junkie and the most powerful people in the world? Is it just six?

Whenever I am out and about whether in London or in the world, I look around and see the multitudes of people pass by me. Some stop and we share a brief moment in time together. But most of the time I pass people by and they pass me by. Distant relatives, that once shared a common ancestor, a single species, all the same and yet different in complexity and wants.

We walk past so many people everyday, we ignore what happens in this world for a lot of the time, wrapped up in the bubble gum wrapper of our own thoughts and wants. But I actually enjoy looking at these people, seeing what they are upto. I am the world's greatest spy, but also I have a vivid imagination. I often take a look at someone and build up a whole history about them, without even knowing whop they are. I take a look at their clothes, their posture and most of all their eyes. It is interesting to look into the wells of their souls and just, well, imagine for them, a new life.

And what is more interesting, how many degrees separate that person from me?

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Caution Wet Pant - The Comic Strip

Due to the web browser crashing, I had a really witty set up to this blog post, but that is now lost in the mists of time.

Oh well. Anyhoo, for those in the know, if you take a little look at this blog, a new icon has suddenly appeared. Yep, that's it, click on it. It is the new Caution Wet Paint Comic Strip Taking the persona of Jay one step further, I have decided to take the characters from Caution Wet Paint on a new adventure, this time in the form of a picture comic.

There is a good reason for this. Creatively, I have now finished with the shorts for 'Caution Wet Paint', but there is still a lot of material out there that I want to use up. My time is now going to be spent on the distribution of the latest CWP short film. So in the meantime, I want an expressive outlet for CWP, that goes beyond writing, which I will also be doing. Hence the comic strip is one of the more funky ways of doing this.

In other words, subscribe to it so every Monday you can 'click' and see what Jay and Kay have been up to. I'll recall their first adventures together before putting them in more devious situations. Ha!

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Major talks sense?John Major talks sense?

Not often do I agree with a politician, especially a former PM of this country, but Uncle John does some say some interesting things...

Of course a lot of hypocrisy in what he says, accusing the current government of eroding trust in Parliament - anyone remember cash for questions?

But anyway, I like the way that the former PM talks about reducing the size of Parliament (fire the bastards) and downsizing the public sector. Oh yes, to look forward to a less interfering government...if only!

Saturday, 4 July 2009


I am going to be witty today. It is the least I can do. After all, the dear followers of this blog, all two and a half that are left after my travel month (man, I felt like the gimp in the room showing off his slides), it is time I returned this blog to the heights of decency that it once enjoyed. You know, the political commentary on this corrupt country, or the observations of 'Living da vida loca en Londra' or something along those lines. Hell man, even a visit to a bridge or two would not go a miss, or even something from a fabled part of South London might treat the reader to something that would entertains as well as enthrall. So, today, I have decided to return to wit, my forte and along with my atrocious spelling that usually accompanies these words, wit will be at the fore front of this blog post.



It can be tricky to be witty.



Okay, so instead of wasting precious web browser space with more, ' ', I have to come clean. I am witless. My brain feels really mushed up at the moment. But never fear, there is a reason for this. super productive session is going on, right now, where the forces of good and evilbattle it out for supreme control of the mind of 'El Director'.


What mind?


Ah! I see it is to be another one of those rambles today. Well, fear not, it will not always be so.


Friday, 3 July 2009

Weekend Hi-Jinx

What recession? Go out on the town, and people are still spending like a crazy. I am one of them. No care in the world, going from one week until the next, hand to mouth. No focus on the future and just for today. Andf why not? For we can plan like crazy, but tomorrow, life has finished, and what is there to show for it? The remnants of a pension fund, a rabbit hutch of a home?

I am in two minds about this, as summer approaches. And ultimately, I think why not. Live for the moment! Life is about the memories, not of the safety factor. But also, what is interesting is how we spend our lives when having fun. Despite the fact that many of us have been doing the same thing, sday in day out, when it comes to the weekend, we do exactly the same thing. Same pub, same club, same toffy-nosed attitude to the bar staff, the same Friday night. Saturday is a hang over and a half and then onto Sunday, back in the pub after a failed attempt to utlise the weekend, all anticipating the Monday rush.

Well, try something a little different this weekend. Don't get so tanked up. And remember, if you can't get on the Nightbus, then don't worry. It's summer, and a walk back in this climate is far more pleasant than a peasant wagon ;) Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Meanwhile, back in London...

So what have I been upto here in London over the past month . Well, to be blunt, busy. Working like a dog, there is no change there. Also, I have been hard at wok on the editing for 'Jay and Kay Save the World'. In the past month, I have finished editing the short film, all the colour corrections have been completed, all the sound has been cleaned up and so I have arrived at the next stage of Post Production - the promotion and release of the film. This also included form filling on two important sites that cover a great deal of film festivals - a day for each one.

The promotion, not only included website redesign, but also press packs, photo stills and posters. Visit the CWP Website and have a shuffle around. You will see all those publicity pieces available for download.

Well that and something else. This is a bit of geekery coming along.

At the moment, I encode my DVD's using a Quicktime file. The DVD looks all right, but still, it does not have that cinematic feel. Unlike the HD image I see while I am editing and the HD image that is available on playback as a raw movie file. WHich is why I am going to experiment with converting the film to an MPEG-2 file before burning to DVD. This will take me a couple of weeks to figure out, but hopefully, it will produce a superior quality DVD. As I have a few weeks before the remaining film festival dates come up for grabs, this is what I will spend doing, figuring out another tool in the editing suite. Once I have this DVD available, hopefully it will be of a better quality. Then I will contact the cast and crew and tell them that all is finished.

Life may be a holiday, but there is a lot of work behind the scenes ;)