London abandoned, in photographs (1)

in Out and About

During his permitted daily period of outdoor exercise, Pissed-off Toff takes photographs of an abandoned capital city.

[Later note: The piece that follows is the first of a pair, and describes a circular walk around Central London on Saturday 28 March 2020, a few days after the so-called ‘lockdown’ of the whole country on Tuesday 24 March.]

Here is London abandoned, as though in some sci-fi movie.

The pictures that follow (and there will be many more to come) are presented in the order in which I took them during a long circular walk on Saturday morning, and show how the whole of London is now a ghost town. 

As I photographed one abandoned street and square after another, it was impossible not to reflect that if this nationwide ‘lockdown’ lasts for any length of time, complete ruination will follow. We are all used to having ‘sustainability’ shoved down our throats on a daily basis. Well, this situation is not sustainable. I just don’t see that you can imprison an entire nation for an indefinite period. Not even Stalin tried it.

I speculate that within a short time the current feelings of bemusement and disorientation will give way to something a little uglier. At what stage, I wonder, will anger and resentment set in? At what stage will people start to resist?

I take the view – utterly taboo and, it would seem, almost illegal – that we should let this virus run its course (as we do with viruses every year), and that we should manage the best we can. That is what they are doing in Sweden. And I wonder whether as we while away the days and weeks and even months in our prisons … I wonder whether increasing numbers of people whose lives are being ruined by this media-induced madness will start thinking the same.

Anyhow, here are some pictures that no-one ever expected to see.

* * * * *

Here is Victoria Station, entirely abandoned at 8.30 on a Saturday morning.

Victoria Station, deserted, at 8.30am on Saturday 28 March

Next (see below) we are inside Victoria Coach Station, shortly afterwards, with just one coach in sight.

Inside Victoria Coach Station at 8.30am on Saturday 28 March

Now we are on the normally busy road that runs along the south side of Hyde Park.

Hyde Park, south side, at 9am on Saturday 28 March

Below, we see a couple of policemen zooming down an entirely abandoned Exhibition Road on their powerful motorbikes, like Robocops in a post-apocalyptic world. Normally a magnet, on a Saturday morning, for schoolchildren looking forward to visiting the Natural History Museum or the V&A or the Science Museum, the whole area is entirely deserted.

A couple of Robocops patrol a deserted Exhibition Road
Outside South Kensington Underground station, 9.30am on Saturday 28 March

This notice (photo to the left) stands outside the entrance to South Ken tube. It would appear that only ‘key workers’ are allowed to travel on the Underground. Not, I note, ‘key toffs’ or ‘key consumers of gin’.

The photo below shows South Ken Underground station at around 9.30 on this Saturday morning. Normally it would be rather busy. Now not a soul.

South Kensington Underground station, 9.30am on Saturday 28 March

Now we observe a queue outside Waitrose on the King’s Road, so long that it goes round the block. I find this slightly puzzling, because there are plenty of shops outside which there are no queues. The big Waitrose on Bressenden Place near Victoria station, for example. Nevertheless, it’s a strange sight.

Queue outside Waitrose, King’s Road, at 9.45am on Saturday 28 March

Despite the fact that the streets of London are deserted, whole fleets of red buses run as normal … with no-one in them. In the following photograph, taken outside Peter Jones shortly before ten in the morning, I see four buses and two people.

Sloane Square: more red buses than people

Below, we are in a lifeless Sloane Square.

Sloane Square at 9.45am on Saturday 28 March

And lastly, here is Eaton Square, again entirely empty at 10am on this same fine spring morning. I note that the resident tramp has not abandoned his bench half way down the long stretch of road that cuts through the square. Apparently, new Coronavirus measures oblige the local Council to find lodging for him and all other rough sleepers and occupants of night shelters. Something to do with ‘social distancing’. But he stinks so foully (and I says it who knows) that no-one will go near him. Nor even, I suspect, will the Coronavirus.

Eaton Square, deserted, at 10am on Saturday 28 March

So there you have it: as the sun shines and as nature comes gloriously to life once more, the entire population of the capital city sits at home, imprisoned.

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