Make Room, Make Room 2

London

More on the overcrowding of London. I find myself wondering how the tourist overload brought about by the Olympics will affect the tube system. Crossrail won’t be finished, which means that the Tottenham Court Rd interchange won’t be open, and the nearest other stations are already crowded to breaking point.

I’m the world’s least claustrophobic chap, but even I was freaked out of Covent Garden station platform this morning, when it felt as if we might all fall onto the rails.

Meanwhile, the extra day’s vacation during the royal wedding, wherein Kate inherits The Curse Of Diana, means that thanks to the May bank holiday and Easter, it’s possible to take just 3 days off work and get 11 days of vacation. This means that there are no flights to be had anywhere, unless you go somewhere nobody wants to go, Middlesbrough perhaps.

Of course, London was always a chaotic, busy city (although it was always dead after midnight) but a look back at this documentary on London’s overcrowded streets make it seem like a haven of calm in those days. Watch carefully for a shot of Leicester Square when it had a road running around it. (You can stop it then – it goes on a bit). In this particular instance I think pedestrianisation should not have taken place. Last night I watched singing drunks photographing each other standing ankle deep in trash while mimes fought for their attention.

2 comments on “Make Room, Make Room 2”

  1. Ian Payn says:

    Not a propos of London overcrowding, but regarding the film Soylent Green. Or, more accurately the poster. The poster is, by any standards, excellent. As a twelve-year old I would stand transfixed before it on Shortlands station, waiting for the train to take me to school. Coming home, I’d make sure I got off the train at the right spot to look at the poster again. It screamed quality and excitement to an adolescent boy.

    Unfortunately, the film had a AA certificate, which meant you had to be 14 to see it. I was okay a year later to get into Westworld at 13, but in ’72 I wasn’t going to cut it as a 14 year old. So, the film disappeared. No videos and DVDs in those days, and films didn’t show up on the TV until 5 years after their initital release (until the rule was broken by The Ruling Class in ’75, and even that was a one-off for quite some while).

    Help was at hand, however, in the shape of the school film society. I’m eternally grateful to the master in charge, responsible for introducing me to Bergman, Fellini, Godard etc, and all those wonderful old movies like Kameradeschaft, Metropolis and The White Hell of Pitz Palu. But once my mate and I got on the committee, we dragged it down to our level.

    There was still some class, of course, but two or three films a term were in the domain of my friend and me. Asylum, From Beyond the Grave – we even introduced hundreds of hormonal teenagers to The Rocky Horror Picture Show years before the midnight matinee bores hi-jacked it for their own pitiful ego trips.

    But the jewel in the crown was to be Soylent Green.

    I read Harry Harrison’s book in preparation, and my friend and I went up to Treasures and Pleasures, the posters/stills shop in Little Newport Court run by John Thomas (yes, really) who supplied us with a poster and a set of stills for our publicity. The poster was as striking as I remembered it, but the stills gave a hint of what was to come. Rather than teeming masses, the population explosion seemed to consist of about eight extras. When we saw the film, our fears were confirmed. The crowd scenes were rubbish.

    But on the other hand, the film was very good, to our teenaged eyes, at least. Edward G. was brilliant, and it was lovely to see Joseph Cotten, although a bigger part would have been nice. Chuckie H. and Chuck Connors were well up to their usual standards (take that how you like) and Leigh Taylor-Young was as hopeless as ever, but the piece as a whole worked, and I was glad to see it, at last.

    I suppose my friend (similarly wowed by the poster) and I learned two lessons. One, you can’t judge a book by the cover. Two, it doesn’t always matter.

  2. Mike Cane says:

    OMG. I had no idea there was a Razr-like scooter back in the 1960s. We never saw those here in the U.S. Were they also British-invented and made? We had a mild boom of those and motorized ones a few years back. You can still catch people using the human-powered ones around NYC even today.

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