Thirty Thousand Streets

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Bus route review: The 345

I practically only use buses these days. After a period of initial fascination, my love affair with the tube has ended, and to be perfectly honest, it was more like a series of increasingly unpleasant dates, cruel mistress that she is. Tubes are grimey, especially Elephant, that looks like a level from Quake that they couldn't actually be arsed including in the finished game as it looked too rough. Actually It's probably more like Castle Wolfenstein, though I'd probably take a member of Wolfenstein's badly rendered mutant SS Guard over a South London monday morning commuter anyday. And then there's the dirt.. That filthy warm burp that preempts the arrival of a train, and the dark sooty kiss imparted should you actually touch any of the props in this infernal warren. Eww.

Now where was I? Ah yes buses. Can't get enough of them. Use em lots. So I thought I'd write about the routes I used in this big bad city, for little other reason than it kills dead minutes between drinking/working (though as I write this I'm swigging a catering size grasshopper)

I'll start with the 345, as I took it just the other day when this 'amazing' post occurred to me. Depending on which way you ride this mother, it's basically a rags to riches parable told in the unfolding vista surrounding you, or a riches to rags parable told in the unfolding vista surrounding you, sweeping as it does from the grime of the Sarf East, to the plummy bling of the East South East.

From my end, It starts in 'Grime-Town' Peckham. I feel like I should like Peckham, but in reality rarely feel compelled to visit there, apart from when stocking up on salt cod. Basically Peckham's so street level it's untrue. The last occaision I went I boarded the number 12 (of which I'll speak later), and headed off with the intention of scouring Charity shops for vinyl and cool t-shirts. Unfortunately, school had just ended for the day, and the bus filled up rapidly with rude boys giving everybody cold assed stares. I reasoned against my original plan and opted for something safer like, I dunno, smacking box-jellyfish with spades, and headed off home at a brisk pace.

From here it rocks up Camberwell Church Street to the green, where in Summer you can see lots of people sat drinking cider, and at least in this respect it's Summer all year round in Camberwell. Camberwell's alright though, Camberwell's got soul, and of course, I live there.

From here the bus heads off to Loughborough, which I can't recommend having never visited save to use the train station one particularly bleak new years eve, and probably won't bother going again to be honest. It was where that MacIntyre(?) guy filmed the documentary in which he walked round for two days pointing at a laptop and phone silently mouthing "MUG ME" until, god bless em, a crew of hoods dutifully did. Great journalism Mac, I see what you did there. Anyway. This is the kind of place BBC researchers come up with when they wants somewhere suitably inner city, now that Brixton has a Sainsburys.

Thence on to yay! Brixton, which is great, but not as nice as the 35 route, as it just whips up past the Ritzy. You do get to see the skate park on this route however, though the other day it was being resurfaced. On a good day there's kids injuring themselves in all kinds of interesting highly kinetic ways.

Then to Stockwell. Now, I can't I go to Stockwell much, and in fact the most time I spend there is when the 345 stops at the tube to change drivers for 10 minutes or so, and by then I'm already getting twitchy.

Clapham next, shining like a big smug grin. I've got some friends who live there so I'll not be be rude about it, and actually it's alright. Heading up the high street on this route however, you get to see the mile or so of crappy aspirational bars that line the high street. Especially great if you're not really interested in music, people or atnosphere, but don't mind paying a premium for your beers. It's got some good places to eat though, Bodeans being an especial fave, and the common is lovely in Summer. In fact, you drive straight through it en route to:

Clapham Junction, which is busy, and has the busiest train station in Europe. You do get to go up Lavender hill though, which is where the mob lived I suppose. It's also got a few interesting shops.

Battersea. It's got a huge, empty derelict power station, and an overcrowded dog's home. Maybe they should combine the two. Whatever. At this stage you cross over Battersea bridge, or would do normally, were it not for some div smashing a barge into it about a month ago. Apparently it might have to close permanently as the ancient Victorian structure was so badly damaged; but it's a cool view even if you're walking I guess. I love crossing bridges.

Better ditch that hoody now kids and rock your Hackett sweater cause now as we enter the final leg of our journey, we roll into Chelsea. Basically, this place is scarily 'money', and everything looks like it should cost loads, and it probably does. Huge fuck off white Georgian houses and expensive cars. I find this place weirder than places like Peckham sometimes, and ocasionally come here to wander round In the vain hope of soaking up some of the ambient wealth via osmosis. Small hope.

Then it's South Ken, which is basically more of the same, though it has the British Museum, and the V&A, justifying riding to the end of the line if nothing else. The Conran shop's also nice if you like that kind of thing.

So to sum up: This route is actually great to ride all the way from a cod-anthroplological point of if you've got 45 minutes to spare (or an hour or three in rush hour) and want to stare at peaks and troughs in property value. It's also interesting the way the buses clientelle shifts slightly fom end to end, and there's loads of places to go en route etc. If I had to come up with a 'Mayor of Lond-ON' type slogan to sum it up it probably wouldn't be this, but you get the general idea.

You'll see palaces and dives on 345s (erk)



gridrunner said...

Nice. And yes, after the pubs shut, there's nowhere good to go in Clapham. The bars are overpriced and overcrowded by people with more money than taste. And I've yet to find somewhere that plays good music.

Q. Why do you think I come to Camberwell all the time?

A. Because old china The Eyechild lives there of course ;)

sigh9 said...

AH the 345, not the most regular of buses tho', are they? I reckon the 45 is the most reliable but the 35 most useful.

ANd the 345 takes almost a year to get to South Ken

Zeno Cosini said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Zeno Cosini said...

How about:

'twixt ballet and jive
Runs the 345

The Eyechild said...


Sloganeering, I bloody loves it. Let's set up a PR agency and rep London Transport.

Zeno Cosini said...

Last one, ever, promise. But for gravitas:

Men struggle, men thrive
Sings the 345