Tag Archives: old london

Sad, lovely Soho

A few months ago, very few -I posted about my shock in realising that most of the Soho that I had always loved had turned into streets full of chain cafes and bars. I didn’t mention the discount (TK Trash etc.) and junk shops, though I could have. The most awful thing was realising that less than 5 months later one of the few surviving places I had photographed – Jimmy’s – has also closed now.

The Independent has an article about it:


The landlords are agog at the prices that can be charged in London becuase London has a never ending supply of tourists who have no idea the difference between a chain and a proper shop. Nor would I, if I didn’t live here.

Here’s my short list of  my favourite independent businesses in London, that I use often,  in no special order:

  • Camden Lock Books  http://camdenlockbooks.com/ used to be on the lock but now in Old St Station.
  • Haggerston Tea Rooms Haggerston Rd
  • Broadway Books broadway market
  • Morganics Organics shop and cafe
  • the TFS Turkish Food Store in Dalston a supermarket
  • Algerian Coffee Stores in Soho
  • FOPP (Ok it is a chain but a very small one!)
  • just about every cafe and restaurant on the Kingsland road
  • Lorelei in Soho, more for coffee as I don’t eat pizza
  • the Prince Charles Cinema
  • the Rio Cinema
  • Bradley’s  North Soho
  • West End Camera
  • Anderson’s Bakery Hoxton

Anderson's Hoxton

Bradleys Soho

but there are a few chains I do like, such as Jessops – reliable and good service, though I wish they’d up their analogue division at least int he New Oxford St store; Maplin also. I can’t fault them. On the other hand they are specialists in what they do.

It just scares me to think of central London just getting blanded out of existence.

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Filed under photography, the city

some photos from the King’s Land

As my job is to document the King’s Land project with still and moving images I am just putting a few shots here that I took in the last couple of days:

all photos ©GillianMcIver 2012 all rights reserved.

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Filed under Art-Related, photography, Uncategorized

smartphone isn’t

so a few months ago I realised I’d had my phone for years and according to my contract I was “entitled” to a new phone.  Although there was nothing whatsoever wrong with my phone, I called the company and told them I wanted a new one. Bright, shiny and new. Sure enough, they sent me a lovely new “smart phone”. This gizmo is connected to the internet 24/7 so I get all my Facebook, twitter, emails etc.  delivered to me with a chirpy little ping so I never miss one. Surfing the net is a breeze. Wow. I plugged in, charged up and away!

it is great, every time somebody mentions anything contentious in a conversation I can say “oh I’ll look it up” and take out my phone and go straight to google. Bus journeys become multimedia festivals, I don’t  have to bother looking out the window at boring old London or communicate to the people next to me, as I have my phone to entertain me. Emails are a doddle. I can even plug in the headphones and listen to music. I’m not much of a person for talking on the phone though; I have it because, well, you have to have a phone, right?

so this is i-living! wow!

and yet …. firstly the battery needs to be charged pretty much all the time. So the beast has to sit on my desk draining power every night. Or it’s out of battery. the more you use it the quicker it drains. OK, I understand that, it makes sense, but for god’s sake …. charge charge charge. Along with my cameras and my laptop and and and (I have developed a hatred of chargers that is so deep and visceral ….)

oh and the fact that when I went to Amsterdam for two days, and I switched the phone to flight mode so I would not incur internet data charges, but I checked the phone exactly twice and read ONE email, I got a bill for £5.  So I can’t really use it abroad. And the camera, at least on the model I have, is crap. (However as a trained photographer, aside from my bulky SLRs, I do of course have a canny little Nikon compact even smaller than the phone.)

but I can live with all that. what I can’t really live with is that with this smart (?) phone I have become stupid. Really stupid. If anyone says anything, or an idea pops into my head, instead of trying to work it out, or if necessary going into my room FULL of learned books, I rush to the shallow and inaccurate but instant Wikipedia.  I stop conversations dead by disconnecting and heading straight into the phone. I cut people off mid sentence by responding to the insistent ping! of my phone’s alerts. I do this to friends, family and just narrowly manage to avoid doing it to colleagues. I try to turn off most of the alerts but can’t seem to find some of them, so ping! never really goes away.

Andy why do I need Google Maps on a phone in London, a city I’ve lived in for years and years, when I have negotiated my way around the megalopolises of Moscow and Cairo, for god’s sake, with just a piece of paper or, more usually, nothing but intuition and occasionally asking a local?!

I have to face the fact that smart phones aren’t. Oh, the phones are smart enough with their clever little microchips that do your thinking for you. But the phone is making me stupid! Blank, uncommunicative, hunched into myself (that famous “smartphone hunch” we see everywhere these days),filling my poor brain with snippet of facile “information” that I really do not need.

So, the smartphone goes. SIM card out,the old phone resurrected and dusted off. Normal life resumes.

Now if I could find a way to just get rid of the phone altogether.


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