Tuesday, May 02, 2006

London: All that is old is new again

As ex-medieval cities like London become clogged with cars, some more traditional modes of transport are seeing a resurgance. We are seeing many more bicycles in particular, including big tricycles with tool boxes on the back creating a retro silhouette of the early 20th century. You also see builders on the tubes and trains, carrying their heavy toolboxes to work. You even, sometimes see joiners carrying the traditional timber carpenter's boxes they made as apprentices.

Today, looking down from my desk in the window that was once the arch into Turnmill's yard, I saw an elderly man, walking down the roadway of Clerkenwell Road. He wore a carpenter's dust cost, in denim I think, over a flanel shirt, and baggy blue trousers tucked into socks and boots. A scarf around his neck absorbed sweat, and would stop saw dust going down his collar. He was pushing a low, heavily built two wheeled barrow made of timber and iron, and it carried his toolkit, a tarpaulin and some pieces of wood. It was a timeless scene, that could have happened on any day in any European city or town for hundreds of years before the invention of the bicycle, or the white van.

And then a motorbike beeped him, and I turned back to my computer.


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