Last week, The Londonist challenged its readers to come up with alternative names for our underground stations, principally names which actually make sense. To be honest, I’m not sure the result really helps those that aren’t familiar with what is above ground in certain places. Olympia is renamed Exhibition (“Exhibition of what?” the tourist may ask), and Piccadilly Circus is renamed Anteros, which sounds like a venereal disease. Anteros isn’t even a name that makes sense – I get the “Eros” but who / what is the “Ant”? And if there’s one station that doesn’t need further accurate clarification for where it is it is Piccadilly Circus which stands in the middle of the area called Piccadilly Circus. And I’m not sure how helpful it is to call Lambeth North simply “Bedlam”.
The Londonist’s map really comes into its own when you step beyond Zone 2. West End Lane / Shoot Up Hill and Walm Lane replace West Hampstead, Kilburn and Willesden Green with great sense on the Jubilee Line, whilst Woodberry Grove, Ducketts Common an Spouters Common sound far pleasanter than Manor House, Turnpike Lane and Wood Green. But why is East Finchley called Cherry Tree Wood, when it hath no cherries and has only a bovine pedestrian crossing where cars go to have near misses by a gastropub? My favourite is Joe Meek, who gets a whole Road named after him (Holloway Road). Sherlock Holmes shares that honour with Baker Street. But I’m astonished that anyone would go back 2,000 years into our history and rename Kings Cross as Battle Bridge. This was the site of a massive Roman massacre about a trillion years ago. I’m not sure how many people would associate Battle Bridge underground with the soya lattes and Helvetica font of the new, media enterprises of King Cross media fuckwittery above ground. All-in-all though, it’s fairly enterprising. What do you think? http://londonist.com/2014/11/all-270-tube-stations-renamed.php It’s caused quite a stir. Already the bastion of North London culture, The Kentish Towner, is asking its readers whether it ought to be renamed “Camden North”.
The Londonist has a strong tradition in veering off the straight and narrow with their tube maps. They frequently come up with skewed versions of our metropolitan transport system, from geographically accurate maps of the tube to mapping ghost stations, from showing the entire tube as a map of the best independent coffee shops in each area, to a fun version based entirely on fashion puns. My favourite is the Synaesthesia Tube Map which bases itself on what the individual tube stations may or may not taste like. Swiss Cottage is “Jam Sponge and Minced Beef”, Kentish Town is a “Fish Finger Sandwich”, Edgware Road is “Sausage Sandwich”, Covent Garden is “Chocolate Digestives” and Bond Street, alarmingly, apparently tastes of “Hair spray” : http://http://londonist.com/2013/08/a-synaesthesia-tube-map.php It’s all rather fun, but we can never change the names we have here. We are really stuck with them. And we can’t call Mornington Crescent “Camden South” because then a surrealist radio panel game would make no sense, capisce?
Of course, if Paddington Station was a foodstuff, it would be Paddington’s “Marmalade”. However, I imagine Paddington wants to rename itself though, following the nasty furore that has blown up amongst people raised in the 1970s, regarding the new Paddington film. Paddington, that connoisseur of Oxford marmalade, that bear starer of Portobello, appears to have become a nasty, nose-picking, house-flooding bastard, voiced by Ben Wishaw. That is presumably because the casting request asked for the least bear-like, mannish man in Equity to voice him. But I saw the trailer for this film and I became incensed, and it takes a lot these days to make me become incensed – it takes a good argument with my bank, or a cretinous stream of correspondence from HMRC, it takes top state figures to wind me up. But that new Paddington is a little shit. And he must be stopped. You see, Paddington is a mentsch. Paddington has chutzpah, yes, but he is something of a sweet dude. He goes to see Mr Gruber in the Portobello Road and discusses his worries over cocoa. He is indignant in the face of injustice, rudeness and people who don’t like the fact he is a bear. The bear stare is the very lowest of insults that can be projected upon you. He is inclusive and progressive (I remember his first visit to a supermarket in Ladbroke Grove in the 1970s, it was, to Paddington, a delightful taste of the future). He carries a suitcase and a spare sandwich under his hat. But the Twitterati are agog and aghast and aggrieved by the new Paddington, and all of these people are born between the first Ted Heath government and the first Margaret Thatcher one. Paddington is our childhood. And they’ve fucked with it. Utterly.
So as a response, we just have to rename Paddington Bear or Paddington Station. Clearly the bear is more culturally important. So the station has to get the chop, kids. Eastern Little Venice? North Queensway? East Edgware Road? Or perhaps for ultimate bear revenge, Darkest Peru?
Please return to The London Bluebird if you enjoyed this, unless you are the producer of the new Paddington Bear film, in which you probably won’t want to come back. This blog is updated every other Thursday so we look forward to seeing you on November 20th. Many thanks for reading, and if you like what you see here, please tell others.