New Lines for London Underground

A while ago we wrote about the Poetiquette campaign that’s been up on the tubes. A lovely way to encourage people to be less self-involved while they’re travelling.

They’ve now awarded a winner – Jennifer Dart from Rayleigh in Essex, who saw off competition from over 6,000 aspiring poets to be crowned the official winner of the Travel Better London poetry competition.

The poem, which was written on the topic: ‘Avoid Unnecessary Delays. Don’t hold open the doors’, was crowned the winning entry by a panel of judges including Aisling Fahey, Young Poet Laureate for London, writer George the Poet and Sophie Baker from The Poetry Society.

Her verse has since been immortalised in cartoon form, complete with her very own caricature. It is now being displayed on buses and Tubes across the Capital.

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TfL’s Travel Better London campaign was launched in September 2013 when colourful poetry posters designed by the artist McBess were showcased on London transport encouraging people to consider their fellow passengers when travelling.

There was also another lovely element to the campaign a few years ago – something I just discovered that a copywriting-poet-friend of mine called Amy Acre did with M & C Saatchi. She was hired to be writer-in-residence on various sites all over the tube, writing impromptu poems about little stories of TFL etiquette.

My personal favourite is this one – Your Butt is a hero. Go Amy.

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OF SOIL, WATER AND NOMINATIVE DETERMINISM

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This is Ian.

Ian Freshwater.

He is – I shit you not – the Project Manager of a new swimming pond that’s launching in King’s Cross very soon.

As a fan of nominative determinism, I couldn’t help but be tickled when I heard this last week at the British Library. Ian started his speech on ‘Wild Swimming in the city’ by telling us that he is the proud winner of an award from Camden Council. It’s official, he has The Second Most Aptly Named Job Title in London. I’ll tell you who got first prize in a minute.

As well as being the owner of that accolade, Ian is one of the people behind a brilliant new art-installation-come-lido in Kings Cross, called Of Soil and Water. Another example of how Wild Swimming itself is a rapidly growing phenomenon across Britain. And in particular, across the capital (more on that in a few days!).

Anyway, I was lucky enough to go along for a first swim and tour of The Kings Cross Pond Club today, and it was wonderful. You can’t beat the feeling of fresh-water under an open sky at the crack of dawn, as opposed to say, a chlorine-y assault on the senses in a stuffy, noisy indoor pool.

But swimming is only half the Of Soil and Water experience. You’re surrounded by cranes, workmen, building sites, by people gutting and transforming Kings Cross, from every vantage point. It’s very exposed. You feel like you’re on stage at times. (you certainly will once the Viewing Platform is full in mid-Summer). But that’s the point. You’re meant to contemplate, too. You’re meant to think about boundaries.

As the architects – Ooze – explained to us before we were allowed to jump in…it’s about the feeling of being simultaneously inside a miniature landscape, and a building site. It’s a dialectic between being inside nature and a city in transition. And yet it’s strangely harmonious.

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That’s not all. The whole thing is cleaning itself through a network of very clever reeds which I won’t even try and explain here. Suffice to say, ‘it’s a ‘living, breathing experiment… and it won’t be chlorinated. So no peeing in it…’ warned Ian Freshwater.

Which reminds me, I’ve not yet revealed who got Number One in The League of Most Aptly Named Job Titles in London. The winner was another liquid based one: Mr Lee King, who is genuinely the Head of Thames Water.

As a Copywriter with an overzealous awareness of fatalistic wordplay, I’ve been collecting other real-life examples over the years.

I’ll leave you with two favourites: my GP when I was a kid was called Dr Payne. And (sorry) Jennifer Leak, who is genuinely a breast feeding coach.

If you’ve ever come across any other nominative triumphs you’ve been itching to share until now, do feel free to add to the collection…

Failing that, you can take a dip in the lovely Kings Cross Pond from Friday 22 May 2015Keep an eye on the pondsite for more details.

FROM TEA TO BISCUITS… AND DAVE DYE’S FIRST BOOK


Dave Dye has won many awards.

But today he wins the prize for Most Obliging Entrant to BeforeTheyWereFamous.org In The World Ever.

On our first day here at Mother, he came up to us and asked if we’d like some more early scamps to put onto our #MyFirstFolio site. An hour later he put them into our actual hands. We didn’t have to e-harass him or anything.

Which is a long way of saying, hooray, we finally have a new addition to our gallery of first books from esteemed creatives

Here is a small taster of Dave Dye’s early marker-pieces: 

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You can see the rest at Beforetheywerefamous.org

Which brings us to our other news. We have left BMB after three lovely years. As well as the people, I (Lol) am really going to miss Covent Garden’s secret lido, and the biblical Homeslice pizza in Neals Yard. If you’ve not been there, go. They redefine the very meaning of what pizza can be.

On the other hand, I’m definitely not going to miss the army of manic soap people who populate Neal street all day every day, desperately trying to shove miniscule rhombuses of shiny brown soap into your hands (a breed worse than chuggers!)

It is oddly nostalgic being back in Shoreditch every day, after all the time we spent at the other side of this block, in The Tea Building when we were at Glue.

The Biscuit Building is actually much cosier than the artic Tea Building. And they feed you breakfast and lunch (and lunch leftovers if you work late!), so you need never go outside.

We’re waiting for the myth of ‘The Mother Stone’ to rear its head. Any day now.