Archive for May, 2014

Jason’s Road trip

May 12th, 2014

I am Jason and I run a bookshop. On Thursday 8-5-2014 at about 07:56 I was bicycling to work on a route I have taken for the last 12 years. I live in Stoke Newington. I was travelling south on Whitmore Road where it becomes Pitfield Street. The light was normal but there was a slight drizzle or very light rain. As I passed the junction with Hoxton Street on my left, I noticed a car proceeding towards me very quickly. I was wearing high visibility, cycling waterproof top , black waterproof bottoms with reflective strips and a cycling helmet. It was clearly my right of way. Before I registered any danger I felt myself flying and landing on the road in excruciating pain. I howled loudly. I was spread-eagled on my front. I do not recollect losing consciousness. Opening my eyes, I saw that I had landed on a part of the pedestrian zebra crossing. I summoned all my energy to crawl or slither off the road in case another car struck me. As I was curling into the recovery position I heard someone asking if I was alright. I said “no”. I heard a voice saying “Call an ambulance”. I repeated the words “Call an ambulance”. I heard someone else saying “I am so sorry. I was rushing to take my daughter to school”. My eyes were closed. I was in agony. Minutes later someone in a green uniform said they were a passing paramedic and instructed me not to move. They went through some questions to assess my condition, which I was able to answer. Following that, the ambulance personnel took over. There was a process of maybe 15 minutes whereby I was supported into an ambulance. That was followed by a lengthy delay where a policeman asked me questions and finally supplied me with a small blue book of information about the accident. I was admitted to the casualty department of the Homerton Hospital. I spent about six or so hours undergoing constant checks and tests. I received an ultra sound and a CT scan on my abdomen. I was administered painkillers. I was advised to remain in hospital under observation for a further period of about 5 hours. I discharged myself and was taken home. I have been in constant pain since then. 48 hours later I have taken photos of my injuries. I am still in a state of shock. I have been told by the hospital consultant that my stomach muscles have been severely torn. My internal organs have been bruised and apart from that, I have suffered several skin abrasions on my face legs and hands and also further bruising. I cannot sleep without waking with pain. My lower intestines contort me in pain. I am using a walking stick, a sling, ice packs and have had a session of cranial osteopathy.

But I am now on the mend & hope to be back at work soon.

Today, I visited the book shop for an hour. It has been as if I had stepped into an alternative reality for four days and I’m now being allowed brief visits back to my old life…


All Change

May 7th, 2014

2014-05-07 11.40.36

Old Street Station has just undergone superficial rebranding (it’s still just a station with a dozen shops) but this station may also become the model for TfL to replace established independent businesses in other tube stations with Pop-up businesses. Our hairdresser, newsagent/printers, shoe shop, clothes shop and phone stall have all gone.  All these independent businesses are (or were) established and mature shops serving longstanding needs for their customers.

The remaining businesses in Old Street Station have more secure leases that pre-dated TfL and have been able to stay. TfL had asked the bookshop to accept a pay out, to leave and give way to another Pop-up unit as well – but we declined the offer.

The electric bike shop, business seminar company, spectacles, pressed juice, and marshmallow Pop-ups are the first replacements; the newcomers are allegedly paying up to four times the existing rents. The Pop-up shop managers that I have talked to are essentially running marketing exercises, using passengers of Old Street Station to gauge reaction to their products. They’re relatively inexperienced if not completely new to the marketplace and so are enthusiastic to learn from their brief visits and  seem to think that the existing shopkeepers and general public are universally excited by their arrival.

There has been an expensive design makeover of the subway tunnels and shop fronts at the same time. TfL are rumoured to have paid in the region of £1,000 per window for some of the shop graphics they’ve had installed and costly security guards are paid to patrol the station for long hours and escort homeless people away from the premises.

The overall tidying up of the infrastructure (after decades of neglect) has been welcomed by everyone, passengers and shopkeepers alike.  But what do the regular commuters and station users really think about losing day to day facilities and supplies in exchange for a sort of rolling exhibition of luxury products (bicycles costing tens of thousands of pounds each!)? Is it merely an inconvenience that you may no longer be able to buy a last minute print-out from a memory stick or have a mobile phone sorted out, have a haircut or buy some new shoes or clothes? Old Street Station’s previous  reputation  as a useful shopping centre in an area of sandwich and coffee chain stores will be knocked back.

If  TfL were to close down their ticket offices too,  to lease them out to Amazon for collection lockers or similar commercial ends, then our tube stations would take on an altogether less useful and more questionable role in passengers’ daily lives.

I would always welcome change for the common good; but wonder who these changes are going to effect and who they are going to profit…

Bookseller of Silicon Roundabout