Monday 25 January 2010
You know how Frazer in Dad's Army used to moan 'we're all doomed'? Well, that's how we felt at some stages on this day. We were due to meet at Crystal Palace Parade to catch the 122, which would take us to Plumstead, where we would get on the 53 to go back to Whitehall. Linda decided to walk from home and so got very wet. Mary had a good long wait for the other two of us as her 363 came promptly and with a very sporting driver which zipped through red lights. So she was pretty chilled. Meanwhile Jo, coming from the North, got a Northern Line train that dawdled and stopped its way to Elephant and Castle and then .... but you don't need all this. Onto the bus!
10.35 and we were off, in a busy bus, with wet and steamed up windows, which means that Linda's pictures are rather impressionistic. The bus was old, with scratched graffiti and -apparently - no heating. We went past Sydenham High School, from whose tower Pissarro painted some of his images of Forest Hill and Sydenham. We headed towards Lewisham, past Jew's Walk, where Eleanor Marx once lived, though we could not see the blue plaque, and to Forest Hill centre, where the Christmas tree still stood. We noted (thanks to Linda's local knowledge) the street which marks the line of part of the Croydon Canal.
Then we were into the Ladywell, Brockley and Honor Oak area, coincidentally subject of the Guardian's 'let's move to' just the previous weekend. This was all quite cheerful, as was passing the Babur and thinking of great meals there, and Prendergast School.
But then the traffic ground to a halt and it took us 20 minutes to get as far as Ladywell Station and Leisure Centre, in better circumstances about three minutes worth. Then it was Lewisham Centre, so familiar to us from earlier buses, and we were into Lee (or 'Blackheath' as some residents like to describe it) before crossing the Greenwich Meridian and reaching Greenwich, 'the borough where time begins'.
Half way along Westhorne Avenue, a long street with housing but no shops, it became clear that we really were 'doomed', as the bus driver announced he was terminating. We all got out, into the rain, and a bus shelter not big enough for all of us, shivering in unison.
But after less that 15 minutes, another 122 arrived, marginally less graffitied and slightly warmer than our first one, and we were off again, past the disused Coronet Cinema, about to become housing.
Woolwich has some handsome buildings, notably the parade ground, but the centre is a little dingy. We were surprised by the huge Screen outside Woolwich Arsenal Station: perhaps it is getting ready for 2012 and the shooting (sport not crime).
We eventually arrived (right into the bus garage as we had not been nippy enough when the driver announced the termination of the route) It was 12.10, almost 90 minutes for a route that is meant to take just over an hour.
Between this trip, and its posting almost a year later, we have been known to describe it as our least favourite journey so far.
At least the 53, parked next door with a friendly driver, was warmer.