Thursday, October 22, 2009

river cafe

I have been waiting for the 93 bus outside Putney Bridge tube station for the last forty four years, or so (is that true??? alas, yes...the 93 was my bus home from school - although, admittedly, I usually caught it actually on Putney Bridge, after I got off the 220...). On a bad day, when the bus doesn't come and it's grey and cold, it feels as though I've done nothing whatsoever in between... It's some comfort to find that the River Cafe has been there just as long. I've never been in it, however (maybe this should be rectified? It has many on-line mentions as the best traditional fry-up breakfast in London...a time-warp classic...formica table tops, etc. Yes, definitely...the British equivalent of a very traditional diner...).

Here's the cafe in the gathering dusk this evening. I had plenty of time to wait there, because the traffic was all snarled up by the Fulham/AC Roma soccer match (I would have thought that would be wildly one-sided, in the Italians' favor, though in fact it was a 1:1 draw). I'm going to do some hard visual thinking, in the next couple of days, about what actually is typically English, in visual terms - things that go over and beyond tourist cliches... Here's just one example: how would any visitor, who hadn't yet worked out that the multi-fare card that one uses on London Transport is called an Oyster card.

According to Andrew McCrum, now of Appella brand name consultants, who was brought in to find a name by Saatchi and Saatchi Design (in turn contracted by TranSys), Oyster was conceived and subsequently promoted because of the metaphorical implications of security and value in the component meanings of the hard bivalve shell and the concealed pearl. Its associations with London through Thames estuary oyster beds and the popular idiom 'the world is your oyster' were also significant factors in its selection as was the uniqueness of the word Oyster.

So says Wikipedia. I think I prefer Alice's hypothesis that the London Transport logo more or less resembles a bivalve.

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