Disappointed to hear the news this morning
that London's Circle Line is to lose its defining feature: its circularity (notionally at least). TfL
is planning to turn it into a 'tadpole', with a tail added to the
existing loop to extend it to Hammersmith. (Making the line look, erm, nothing like a tadpole.) More momentously, there will no
longer be a through service running the entire circuit of the track – you'll
have to change at Edgware Road if you want to keep going.
There are no doubt good practical reasons
for the change (reducing delays, overcrowding etc), but it will remove an
important part of London's 'psychogeography'. The idea that there is one line that
you could theoretically stay on all day has always held a great fascination for
Londoners. Circle Line parties will presumably be no more, and late-night
drunks won't be able to snooze for quite as long.
In 2005, the Circle Line was the
inspiration for a book by 26 (the writers' organisation of which we're both
members). From Here To Here was a great collection in which writers (including
the likes of Simon Armitage and Ian Marchant) were each assigned a different
station. One of the earliest 'Asbury & Asbury' projects (before we went
by that name) was coming up with an exhibition to promote the book. We're still proud of it.
On a miniscule budget of £500, we managed
to source a load of picture frames from various car boot sales, along with some
gaffer tape and a tin of yellow paint. The result was a version of the Circle Line in which each
station morphed into a distinctive story of its own.
Each frame contained an
extract from the writer's chapter, interpreted in a variety of graphic,
typographic and illustrative styles.
The book started and ended with chapters on King's Cross, so we decided to put them in a split frame at the entrance to the gallery (in the London College of Communications).
Sawing that frame in half and getting the alignment right was hard work.
In fact, the whole thing was hard work. Trekking across London to buy the frames (in the days before we had a car), applying about five coats of paint to each one, designing the canvases, getting glass cut, hiring a van to transport them, drilling the holes in the wall to mount them. For a few weeks, our house turned into a surreal mini-Circle-Line of its own, with frames snaking their way along the hall and up the stairs. Still remember tiptoeing past them, trying not to get any stray specks of dust on the final coat of gloss paint.
Our only regret is that we spent so much energy getting the thing done, that we didn't give enough thought to documenting it. Most of the pictures are taken on a small compact camera – bit crazy in retrospect.
That said, we did create a website that records the whole thing for posterity. And we were particularly pleased when the
exhibition got into the D&AD Annual 2006, where all the fellow entrants seemed
to be working with multi-million budgets.
Presumably, the equivalent exhibition today
would have to be tadpole-shaped.