Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Moholy smoke, Batman!


Ten years ago I left London and my job in Canary Wharf, at that time a highrise frontier town, to return to South Africa. This past 10 days or so I have been roving again in the city of my birth and have found it much changed. There are the obvious improvements: cleaner, more service- orientated, facelifted and catered for by a lot of really good restaurants; and there is a more profound shift, to a city of style and extraordinary architectural design. Both are bodied out in the Tate Modern, Pink Floyd cover art come to life. But Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, the sometime Bauhaus artist whose work is currently on show in that astonishing hall of spaces, would probably have felt himself most at home -- although perhaps rather uncomfortably -- in the gigantic geometries of the new city of Docklands, its high-gloss facades admitting nothing and reflecting everything. This is post-human design; its visitors and denizens seem incidental, beetles in a forest of monoliths. The new city is magnificent and it is completely heartless.

Appropriately, Moholy-Nagy finally settled in London and designed, among other things, the visual language of the Underground, including perhaps the city's best known logo. This was once, for me, a cursed sign, 13 years on the Northern Line sufficient explanation thereof. But here in the Tube network -- and the huge shiny fleet of buses -- Livingstone has left his mark. If the Misery Line had been like this, instead of grimy, battered and chronically delay-bound, why, I might have stayed ... I could do without Mummy patiently telling me the names of the stations though.

The tide of change seems to have left the outer suburbs high and dry. High streets in north London, from Golders Green to High Barnet, appear to be beyond our Ken. Passing through by car, I found it all much as I left it, Tesco land, wrapped in chains.

Did I have a good time? Hell yes. Thanks to the electric village of the WWW, I met some splendid blog friends, and wonderful female companions for walks on the Heath, the Tate, the theatre. And chipped and pinned my way through certain stores.

Damn it all, I miss the bloody place. So I am going to make a plan, as we say in SA. I shall straddle two worlds. More of this later. And more frequent entries.

7 Comments:

Blogger Interpreter Pavlov said...

Aha! Ek sal 'n plan maak!

Glad you had a good time. Keep the posts coming.

3:32 PM  
Blogger First Nations said...

Welcome back!
Welcome back!
Welcome back!
I've been checking the last few days. I'm glad you were able to have a good time and see so much. yay for more posts!!

oh lordy, did you see the V and A exhibit? tell me yes....

6:22 PM  
Blogger Davefa said...

I am beginning to hate Blogger. Until this moment I have not been able to see the post you are commenting on. I have been getting May 10 as my last blog. Nor did Blogger recognise who I was ON MY OWN SITE when I tried to respond by getting the post via my archive. Finally found a tipoff to oplace a question mark at the end of the URL and that seems to have worked. Except it still doesn't know who I am, so I'll use an old moniker...

9:00 PM  
Blogger Davefa said...

Well, I am nobody on Blogger now and that's official. There's a blank on the Dashboard where my blog name should be and it doesn't recognise me or my password. Nothing they suggest works so maybe it's a sign I should pack it in.

9:35 PM  
Blogger DavetheF said...

I appear to be reinstated in Blogger's memory. In reply to FN, didn't get to the V&A and the visit was just too short in the end ...

8:54 PM  
Blogger Pashmina said...

It was tippety-top to meet you, Dave, and glad you enjoyed it all so much. Those changes are much less obvious when you carry on living here whilst they're going on.

9:05 PM  
Blogger DavetheF said...

It was a most excellent meeting with you and Patro, Pash, and perhaps next time we can make it dinner. Expect something in post.

9:28 PM  

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