online: 31 (?) october 2005
modified: 28, 29 october 2005

21 october 2005 special occasions

18:27 When the bus i was on reached Golders Green there were 10 to 20 middle-aged men with cameras waiting to photograph something... I thought they were press photographers until i learnt that they were bus enthusiasts attending the last journeys of the number 13 double decker (the one with an open platform which allows people to step on and off anywhere, not just at bus stops)... this is the last day before the Routemaster is withdrawn from route 13.

20:03 I'm now on one of the very last journeys of bus 13 - there are only a few people, no photographers... riding down the Finchley Road on a windy evening - everything looks the same but i feel it is a special occasion...

20:30 now after 'all change' we are moved to the last-but-one bus - the very last just overtook us - it was completely full (of middle-aged men)...

The conductor told us that this particular bus took 7 years to restore to its original state - cork flooring, original posters, low voltage light bulbs... everything is as it was 51 years ago when the Routemaster was the latest thing... and now, on its withdrawal, it arouses such joy and sadness among these men, or grown up boys, all smiling and talking so enthusiastically... i feel that this is a most wonderful moment for them amidst many moments far duller... and that there is something here of the magical.

...and now on another bus across Waterloo bridge to pass National Theatre outdoor projection of Andy Warhol's film Empire (a static 8hr movie of the Empire State Building from afternoon to night)... until bus reaches the Tate Modern and Rachel Whiteread's arctic-like piles of white plastic reverse mouldings of ordinary cardboard boxes - i ask myself what is it, this mind-emptying thought that she repeatedly realises in her 3-dimensional negatives of familiar objects, from tables to chairs to whole buildings?... it's some strange kind of undoing of normality to reveal the unlikelihood of everything if seen as pure phenomenon, unrelated to familiar actions or the perceptions of use...

individual people, as they walk by, seem detached from any context - against the enveloping whiteness... and this impression outdoes her intentions, i think... or does it supplement them?

Returning later to view Empire for about half an hour i feel that it would be more impressive if projected indoors. Out here on the rooftops to see it being projected onto the outside of a concrete wall it is just a dim light among many brighter ones - the cinema (i remember from the theories of Suzanne Langer*) is not an outdoor spectacle but a virtual dream, to be shared by others each looking individually at 'impossible sights' in the artificial cinematic darkness of 'public dreaming'...

*Suzanne Langer, Feeling and Form, 1953. Her idea that cinema is 'virtual dreaming' and that each artform is a virtual something; for example painting is virtual space, sculpture is virtual presence, and music is virtual time.

(these pages are designed to be read with the window set to two-thirds of the screen width)

what's new



daffodil email newsletter

© 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 john chris jones

You may transmit this text to anyone for any non-commercial purpose if you include the copyright line and this notice and if you respect the copyright of quotations.

If you wish to reproduce any of this text commercially please send a copyright permission request to jcj at