© Words



Today’s the day. London’s Congestion Zone doubles in size to take in Chelsea, Kensington and Westminster whose residents and businesses are understandably unimpressed. There will naturally be acres of newsprint dedicated to this, the most controversial issue faced by the capital’s drivers and introduced by our beloved Socialist Mayor (yes I voted for him in 2000) ‘Red’ Ken Livingstone so I won’t add my two penny-worth here. I have a feeling though, that I may have to drive through the free zone tomorrow and I might change my mind after that!

In the meantime, the picture above was shot last week and is located here at Whites Row, off Commercial Road, Spitalfields East London: the Zone’s eastern-boundary. Apart from the fact that turning left into Whites Row will mean you’ll have a £8 Congestion Charge to pay, what’s infinitely more interesting to readers will be the ugly multi-story car park in the background whose gruesome story behind its ramps and painted parking bays will jolt the memories of anyone has watched a murder mystery on Discovery Channel.

On 9th November 1888, 25 year-old working girl Mary Jane Kelly was infamously butchered at Miller’s Court, Dorset Street (now at the location of this multi-story). As you’ve guessed by now, she was of course the 5th and last victim of Jack the Ripper though quite why Jack stopped his killing spree after slaying poor Mary is of course the subject of many more documentaries past and future. What is known by 21st Century Ripper sleuths is her post-mortem which didn’t make for pleasant reading then, or even today. Suffice to say there wasn’t much of her left intact when found spread across her bed.

As we zoom around London’s highways and junctions; avoiding traffic cameras which spy on bus lanes and parking bays; ducking under the clout of traffic wardens (Victorian gaolers?) who dish out plastic-wrapped Fixed Penalty Notices – not to mention the ever-voyeuristic Congestion Zone camera operatives, housed in some West End bunker, we drive past oblivious to the plethora of personal tales that are hidden around this amazing city. If I hadn’t been a photographer, I may have chosen flying aircraft as a worthwhile paid hobby or as strange as it seems to those who know me, I may have done history at Cambridge. OK, that may have been a bridge too far seeing as I barely have two decent O-Levels to rub together – one being French.

But the Zen of Congestion charging is bound to spread nationwide as this martial-art of motoring is sure to catch on across the UK and Europe’s gridlocked cities. Petrol-heads, you have been warned – except in the US where you are all as safe as houses.

On the subject of warnings, the © Word also extends to the downloading and reproduction of my pictures that are protected by Copyright law and my current web site counter is a clever little insect. Please, if you’d like to borrow anything from this blog for purely personal reasons, just ask and I’ll probably oblige.


6 Responses to “© Words”

  1. Dearest Generic Photographer, here is something I cannot understand. I have failed to find anyone who actually voted for either Red Ken or His Eminent Highness Blair. I was told by everyone that if you get them in they will bankrupt the country, raise the taxes and finally leave when it is getting too much and someone else will have to sort it out…did that happen?

    However had there been a CCTV when Jack was about we would have known who he was…

  2. Well there’s plenty of voters in London who backed Ken – not once, but twice – but all there was then as an alternative was a Tory called Shagger Norris.

    And as for Victorian CCTV – our Jack would have had to stand still in the alleyway for up to two minutes to register on the film.

  3. 3 laura

    I have never driven to london before and was visiting (19/03/07) to show at spitalfield market “alternative arts” fashion show for my university. We had a lot of clothing to take to the fashion show so the train was out of the question. Obviously i don’t know London City Centre at all and was advised to use The White Row car Park as it is close to the market and easy to find. We navigated to this car park, turned off Commercial St to White’s Row only to find we had to enter the Congestion Charge zone by 5 metres JUST TO TURN INTO THE CARPARK!!! What a joke, £8 just to have the pleaseure of entering this council owned car park.

  4. 4 Grockle

    How a former Londoner solved the problem with London- I moved to Dorset- less problems 🙂

  5. Ah Dorset. We spent half-term on Exmoor and very idyllic it was too. Lots of hunting that seems to be successfully circumnavigating the law but many sections of woodland have been purchased by the anti-hunt lobby too, thus preventing the hunts seeking access.

    A little like a congestion zone really.

  6. Excellent picture!

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