A LEAFLETTER’S PHOTO ALBUM: Photography special – Part 2

By Vijay Shah

Another weekend here in sunny Stratford relaxing at home….the 30th Olympiad has now officially been opened, amid much fanfare, fireworks and foreign visitors. Yesterday also was one of my good friend’s/work colleague’s last day at our office, and we celebrated with an informal get-together at a nearby pub before setting off for Trafalgar Square to watch the Opening Ceremony on a big screen. Unfortunately said big screen was a no-show, so our party ended up at the Slug & Lettuce in nearby Chinatown where surprisingly we were able to get in and get seats despite it being at the last minute and not all of us having ID. The atmosphere was electric, the screen was (reasonably) big and Union Flags were fluttering amongst the ciders and beers. It made me feel very proud to be a Londoner, to bear witness to the third time that my city has hosted the Olympics and Paralympics…and it was a wonderful sending-off  for her no doubt….All the best Prerna!!

Meanwhile here in the WordPress blogosphere, Half-Eaten Mind brings you the second part to my special photography feature run. For those Brainiacs who missed the first instalment, I am sharing some photos which I took as a sideline hobby while working as a leaflet distributor six-odd years ago. In my three months as a blogger, I have noticed keenly that photography blogs are a significant crowd-pleaser. Part 1 of the Leafletter’s Photo Album received seven likes from fellow bloggers, for which I am very, very grateful and thankful. I certainly enjoyed writing from a personal angle and sharing a little of my own creativity with all of you wonderful people out there. So with much enthusiasm and ‘joie de la jour’…..here cometh Part Two….

(c) 2007 V. Shah

LOCATION: All Saints Tower, Leyton

DATE: 13 April 2007

As a leaflet distributor, or junk mail peddlar, as some residents might have been wont to call me, my job took me to various neighbourhoods, ranging from quiet leafy suburbs to tower blocks and dingy council housing estates (housing projects in Yankee language). We would often cover apartment blocks as part of our remit, and we loved them, as it meant we could rid of our leaflet stock in half the time. Whereas before, we would wait for someone to leave the block before gaining entry, our boss Mr. Miller later supplied our teams with a special key that could be used to let ourselves in through the ‘fireman’s entrance’, an inbuilt feature in the buzzers of many tower blocks. Normally these keys are used by emergency services like the fire brigade to gain entry to such places without having to ring someone’s doorbell and pray that they were still at home.

One such tower I found myself in was the lofty All Saints Tower complex in Leyton, east London. Part of the Beaumont Road Estate, All Saints and its sibling edifices were approved for construction during the building boom of the 1960’s. All Saints itself was erected in 1963, and consisted of 120 separate residences spread over 21 storeys. That meant a lot of lifts and walking for me. The estate is the last high-rise estate of its kind in Leyton and the largest in the borough of Waltham Forest (background information courtesy of Wikipedia). Not surprisingly, All Saints offered anyone on the top floors unparalleled views of the surrounding hinterland, and as bored as I was with the mundane banality of life at ground level, I captured this bird’s-eye view of the area near the High Road. Here you can see the Tesco Express supermarket and its adjacent customers’ car park, plus the rows of Victorian-era housing, typical fare for much of inner London. The detail of the scenery is picked out satisfactorily by the fact that it was a day with good weather conditions, but the wire mesh on the window I took this picture out of has admittedly ruined the shot a little. Unfortunately window removal is not a skill I was blessed with, and my feet were aching from running up and down several hundred feet’s worth of corridors. Plus it smelt a little funny in there.

(c) 2007 V. Shah

LOCATION: All Saints Tower, Leyton

DATE: 13 April 2007

This is the second photo in the Leyton series and this is a view looking out towards the rail line which services London Overground trains between Walthamstow and Leyton Midland Road stations and is part of the main network that links up areas such as Hackney and Barking. In the background you can see the other tower blocks that make up the estate. Apparently since this photo was taken, much of the estate has been demolished to regenerate and beautify the area and make it a more pleasant, community-led place to live in. I have not had much reason to visit the area again so cannot say what the new site looks like. As far as the photo-taking experience was concerned, I did remember having an almost childlike ecstasy at seeing Leyton in a way that is normally closed to everyone except pigeons and police helicopters. Unless I end up living in an apartment block myself…or can afford a light aircraft pilot’s training course, it may be a long time before I can take photos like these again.

(c) 2007 V. Shah

LOCATION: All Saints Tower, Leyton

DATE: 13 April 2007

Here is the third photo in my Leyton collection, taken from what I reckon is the middle floors of All Saints. Thankfully it is a clearer view minus the mesh and you can definitely get a clear impression of what an average residential neighbourhood around there looks like. In my honest opinion, the highlights of this picture would have to be the general detail and clarity. Notice the different hues of red, brown, grey et cetera on the roofs of the terraced houses in the foreground and the way the trees in the background subtlely disintegrate and blur the skyline. A reasonable juxtaposition of natural and man-made, fusing together.

(c) 2007 V. Shah

LOCATION: All Saints Tower, Leyton

DATE: 13 April 2007

Now for Photo No. 4…a similar thematic to the photo mentioned previously. The road running diagonally from top to bottom is Belmont Park Road, one of the main thoroughfares for the Beaumont Road estate.  The wider heavily marked road snaking its way through the right half of the picture is Leyton Green Road (a.k.a the B159 route) and between them is the Belmont Park school and the ‘Old Factory’ which despite its name, is an assortment of pricey flats.

(c) 2007 V. Shah

LOCATION: Unknown

DATE: 12 March 2007

For our last photo in today’s feature, we leave Leyton and get completely lost. Unfortunately, I have no recollection of where exactly I took this picture, but it was somewhere in east London. It is a random subject matter, but one that stemmed from a childhood interest in automobiles and particularly registration plates (which we call ‘number plates’ colloquially here in the U.K.). Vehicles with American-style plates are rarely encountered on the streets of London, probably as they would fall foul of the registration rules of the DVLA/Department of Transport or whichever governmental body deals with these sorts of matters. Interestingly enough, substantial quantities of cars are imported (mainly from Japan; less so from the States) which have bumpers or spaces designed for US or Japanese plates. These plates are short and squat compared with the longer-length plates that are in use here and in continental Europe. The vehicle registration authority in Britain allow motorists with such bumpers to purchase plates that have smaller lettering squeezed into the appropriate format to fit their bumpers. It would make more sense than expecting the proud owner of a shiny new Nissan, Mitsubishi or Jujitsu (lulz) to have to shell out cash for compatible bodywork.

The ‘licence plate’ in the above pic is strange because while it looks just like an average United States registration, the numbers and letters follow the same methodology as used to be the case in the UK up until 2001. The first letter D means that this auto was originally registered between August 1986 and July 1987. Yet the plate states ‘CALIFORNIA – SANTA BARBARA’…..very confusing! I can only assume that this was a legal vanity plate. The car may have been an American-built Cadillac so the owner maybe wanted to keep the Americana theme consistent, but at the same time did not want to get pulled over by the police and fall foul of the law.

I hope you enjoyed reading/viewing and please stay tuned for part 3….for our final instalment of the Leafletter’s Photo Album, our pictorial journey will take us to the Docklands of London…that’s all I will say for now, I’m not one to hand out spoilers 🙂

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s