Saturday, 24 November 2018

The Number 12 Route

Thursday 22 November 2018

Well, now, this was supposed to be a seamless and efficient journey, landing us up at Dulwich Library in good time for lunch chez Linda.  And the first part went well as Linda has explained.  At Liverpool Street, we stepped straight onto the Central Line, to get to Oxford Circus, where the 12 begins.  It was 12.10. Hollow laughter is appropriate at this point.  After waiting for 10 minutes for this famously frequent bus, we rechecked the bus stop: no notice. So Linda looked at the TfL website and, lo! thanks to the bridge works at Parliament Square, it now, apparently, starts at Whitehall Place. Were we downhearted? No! (well, yes actually, but I couldn't resist the First World War reference there) . So we hopped onto another bus, and disembarked in Whitehall, only to find that the bus stop there was closed, with a notice telling us that the bus starts in Westminster `Bridge Road, the other side of the river.

Walking across the bridge was made bearable by (for me) the fact that it had been closed to all vehicles except bicycles:  perhaps a foretaste of what the whole city will be like before I die?
But also because, every 20 metres across the bridge there were young men offering that classic con trick with the three cups and the ping pong ball.  We concluded that there was an organised gang operating on the bridge.  For anyone who does not know that this is a scam, here is a helpful website.

So eventually we passed the Coadstone Lion and got onto the bus at 12.53, and we were off.  This bus was marginally less arctic than the 11. Here's a question for Mr Johnson, when he has a moment.  How can his pet buses, so hot in summer that they are known to all who are forced to travel on them as Roast-masters, be so cold in winter?

We made steady progress down under the former Eurostar Platforms at Waterloo, past the Walrus Pub, with its toothy sign, and past the attractive planting outside Morley College, which used to be guerrilla gardened until the Council took it over.  We even began to look forward to a not-too-late lunch.

But then we reached Elephant and Castle. And stopped, because Environment Rebellion had got there a few minutes before us.  It was only about 10 minutes, but some people on the bus got very tetchy, about meetings they would be late for and so on.

When we did move on, we came to road works (of course) and progressed along the Camberwell Road, past various shop and office fronts, including the 'Passion for Beauty' shop, where they 'have the secret code for beauty'.

As we came past Burgess Park, we were quite pleased with the progress we were making, but then we were stopped, this time by a car in the middle of the road, apparently malfunctioning.  A number of people were gathered round it, opening and closing the doors, and bonnet, jumping up and down on the door sill (cill?) to no avail, until suddenly, after about five minutes, it drove off, and on we went.

Linda was interested to see Seabass Cycles, of which there are apparently several branches in South East London, and we also noted two hairdressers next door to each other, definitely separate businesses, because they had different phone numbers.

We were, as always, passing newly built apartments all the way along here, past Camberwell Green and down towards Peckham.  We passed the parish church of St Giles;  he is known as one of the 14 holy helpers in Germany, and is the saint of beggars and the downtrodden.  This is interesting, I think, since the area of St Giles (around shiny Tottenham Court Road) used to be one of the nastier rookeries of London in the time of Charles Dickens.

Then we came into Peckham, Linda reminding me that when the bus goes the other way it avoids the congested High Street.  Not us: we went past the Library and the Aylsham Centre and the Wing Tai Chinese supermarket and then encountered our next hold up: a splendidly insouciant bloke,  trundling his trolley load of bags of rice up the street despite the motorised vehicles getting annoyed with him.

We were amused, therefore, to see the notice at the next lot of road works, begging pedestrians not to walk in the road. We braced ourselves for another delay when we saw two police cars stopped but flashing their lights;  but they did not seem to want to stop the traffic.

South London always has interesting churches, and we noted The Beneficial Veracious Christ Church Miracle Centre, part of a global church promising exactly what its title suggests.

'Nearly there', sighed Linda, as we turned down to pass the Rye and then fork right to pass the HQ of Suzanne James catering.  We don't often, you will agree, tout for commercial concerns, but since we have both had very good family parties catered by SJ, it seems only reasonable to let you have a look at them.

And then all that was left was to get to Dulwich Library, where this bus terminates....eventually, at 14.00.

It's a route that both of us have used and enjoyed before, but never quite as slowly and annoyingly as this.

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