Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Me and My Environment

One thing which is significantly different from what I was used to growing up in Dublin is just the sheer density of people here. Limehouse is probably equivalent to a much more urban setting in Dublin - maybe the Quays - than the leafy cul-de-sacs of Glenageary. One of my main reasons for choosing to be here in Docklands though is that the river and the canal network creates some kind of geography, avoiding the numbing sprawl of some other places I've lived, particularly in east London.

As you can see from the photo of the view from my bedroom below, I live smack in the middle of some of East London's major transport infrastructure. The road running left to right, where the black cab, van and hatchback are queuing between the traffic lights, is the narrow, one lane entrance that funnels the traffic into the Rotherhite Tunnel, going underneath the Thames to Canada Water.

As you can imagine, the difficulties of maneuvering into a tight space brings out the famous English reserve and politeness in London drivers; when the mood strikes me, I can stand on high like a Roman Emperor surveying gladitorial contests, as they square off and scream threats and insults. Behind the platforms of Limehouse Docklands Light Railway station (daily 5.30am to 12.30am) lies the mainline from Fenchurch Street station to Essex (train horns every 5 minutes during peak times).

The greenery reaching to the sky originates in a bizarrely-sited garden centre leaning against the station. High walls and coiled razor wire surround this botanical Alcatraz. Through the arches of the railway bridge lies the crossroads with Commercial Road, where the traffic lights, like the moral precepts of the Church of England, seem to be fairly indicative guides to behavior.