Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author. He is the Creative Director of Adobe Typekit, the founder of typography magazine 8 Faces, one half of Viewport Industries, and an electronic musician.

After the London bombings

Posted on 07 July 2005 No comments yet

Having read War Of The Worlds only two weeks ago, thoughts of escaping from London and embarking on some sort of mini-adventure were fresh on my mind. And despite today’s bombing tragedy and the ensuing chaos, I’m not afraid to admit that the whole thing has been rather exciting; exciting enough to make me walk home from work, despite the fact that the buses are now running again (in this part of London, anyway).

It’s amazing that almost as soon as you get down to the Thames in Hammersmith, the atmosphere becomes much more like that of Richmond, with folk sitting outside along the riverfront. After 5 minutes or so of wandering, I asked one of the boatmen which way Richmond was, and, discovering that I was indeed heading in the right direction, I decided to follow the river home.

Unfortunately, about 15 minutes later, the Thames Walk ended and I was forced to walk along the main road into Chiswick. However, I wanted the river (and to stay as far away from traffic congestion as possible), so I asked a passer-by if he knew how to get back down on to some sort of river path. Despite his good intentions and confident sense of direction, I was merely lead back unto whence I came, once again facing the path’s dead-end.

So here I write in a small and wonderfully old-fashioned pub, tucked away down a quaint little alley along the narrow part of the Thames Walk. From the sound of things, people are taking this as the start of the weekend, already (happily) succummed to the fact that tomorrow’s disrupted transport will most likely mean a day off from work. I decided to join in the celebration in my own little corner with a pint of cider, half-imagining myself as a 19th Century traveller on my exodus from London. The only unfortunate thing is that I’d already booked tomorrow off as holiday anyway.

Oh, if the terrorists could see this – the carefree, jovial atmosphere of Londoners enjoying a summer evening adn a weekend come early, languishing in their prolongued journeys and enjoying the new places discovered on their alternative routes homewards!

There seems to be very little disruption at all, with the traffic moving at a surprisingly steady pace and the streets as crowded as ever. To my surprise, London is no ghost-town. Mind you, I must admit that we appear to have got off lightly here in the south-west. And, of course, we’re not being pursued by Martians…

The pub is rapidly filling up and my pint is close to its end. Onwards I go!

Later.
The next part of my journey has been less enjoyable, and more-or-less without the magic of the riverside and its quaint charm. It has been even less enjoyable, perhaps, with my ego deflated from having to double-back on myself. And walking through suburbia just doesn’t quite compete with the river.

Once I reached my point of origin, I crossed the Hammersmith Bridge and decided that my best option was to follow the bus route. The only problem with this was that I had only done the journey twice (with my head down in a book for most of it), and as such, I had only sporadic bus stops to serve as my proverbial breadcrumbs. And if there is to be any criticism of my journey as a whole, it is that I never had any real reason not to take the bus (and there are about 5 from Hammersmith that go to Richmond); what was driving me to walk was a sense of adventure most likely born from the anticlimax of the transport situation. I suppose I kept telling myself that the buses were also at risk after the morning’s bombings, but in truth, they’re probably safe by now; especially here.

So I walked down into Mortlake, happy to rediscover the river (and thus learn that I was inadvertantly following my original plan) and was tempted to make another riverside pub stop, but alas, the temptation to wait for the bus overcame me, and after a brief stop in the aforementioned pub to use the toiletry facilities, I am now – with much regret, and even a tiny little bit of fear – writing to you from a 419 to Richmond. My optimistic ‘adventure’ has sadly come to a rather abrupt and pathetic end, although I must admit that as this journey goes on, the realisation of how long the walk would’ve taken – hours, if I’d continued to follow the bus route – makes me glad of my cowardly decision.

There’s much that can be said about the bombings today, but I’m sure you can read about them on several thousand other blogs, so I hope you enjoyed my little non-adventure instead. :o)

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