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Posts Tagged ‘Abbey Road’

Yes, a zebra crossing in north London has been granted Grade II status by English Heritage. Six white bands on a stretch of tarmac, which I presume have been painted over any number of times since the Fab Four walked across them in 1969, are now up there in the cultural rankings with some of the finest churches and public buildings in our land. Isn’t it fantastic!

Then

Now

I showed my appreciation for the crossing a few months ago in a post about potholes; and regular readers will know that I have an occasional interest in the niche subjects of traffic management and urban planning. Forgive me for copying from my previous post here:

I was listening to the Beatles Blue album in the car on Friday – the first time in years – and by chance my route to the M1 took me along Abbey Road, past the famous recording studios, and across the even more famous zebra crossing. I like seeing the crowds of tourists either side waiting to cross in synchronised groups of four, no-one quite sure if the rules of pedestrian crossings are active here or suspended in some kind of nostalgia-museum bubble. It’s a lovely blur of reality and hyper-reality; a magical time-capsule that can’t separate itself from the ordinariness of a London street.

Here is Sam Jones’s account of the recent listing.

The heritage minister John Penrose took the unusual decision to protect the crossing, which provided the cover shot for Abbey Road album, following advice from English Heritage.

Penrose said that while the crossing was “no castle or cathedral”, it had “just as strong a claim as any to be seen as part of our heritage” because of its link to the Beatles. He added: “As such it merits the extra protection that Grade II listing provides.”

Roger Bowdler, head of designation at English Heritage, said: “the crossing continues to possess huge cultural pull — the temptation to recreate that 1969 album cover remains as strong as ever.”

The Abbey Road album was the last to be completed by the Beatles, although Let It Be, which had been recorded earlier, was the last to be issued.

Fans flock to the crossing from every corner of the globe. On the 40th anniversary of the photoshoot on 8 August last year, hundreds of people relived the moment, causing traffic chaos in the area.

Other groups who have copied the pose include Red Hot Chili Peppers. Their homage, used on the front of 1988’s The Abbey Road EP, had more in common with solo-era John Lennon than the original shot: it showed the Californian band crossing the road naked but for four strategically placed white sports socks.

 

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Lake Michigan? Nope a Pothole! by live w mcs.

A random post: I was listening to the Beatles Blue album in the car on Friday – the first time in years – and by chance my route to the M1 took me along Abbey Road, past the famous recording studios, and across the even more famous zebra crossing. I like seeing the crowds of tourists either side waiting to cross in synchronised groups of four, no-one quite sure if the rules of pedestrian crossings are active here or suspended in some kind of nostalgia-museum bubble. It’s a lovely blur of reality and hyper-reality; a magical time-capsule that can’t separate itself from the ordinariness of a London street.

As I drove across I was halfway through the track “A Day in the Life”, wondering about that line ‘four thousand holes in Blackburn Lancashire’. The memory would have passed, but I came across this report from the BBC  today saying that because of the cold weather there are now 1.5 million potholes in Britain waiting to be repaired. And last year alone local government filled in 970,000 holes.

Institution of Civil Engineers vice-president Geoff French said the thaw could bring little respite, with drivers having to cope with increasing numbers of potholes. The continuous cycle of freezing and thawing – particularly on roads where long-term maintenance had been neglected – could break up road surfaces, he said. “Water gets into cracks in the road surface, it then freezes and expands the crack. Then more water gets in, it freezes because of the weather cycle we’re in and it steadily gets worse.”

This mind-boggling statistic led me back to John Lennon. Here is Terence Hollingworth’s account of the derrivation of the lyrics:

It was John Lennon’s idea to write this song by combining ideas taken from the newspapers. He and Paul scanned the Daily Mail for Jan 17th. 1967 and their eye caught the following short article: “There are 4000 holes in the road in Blackburn Lancashire, one twenty-sixth of a hole per person, according to a council survey. If Blackburn is typical then there are over two million holes in Britain’s roads and 300 000 in London.” There was no connection between this and another piece about the Albert Hall; it was just their imagination that made the link.

There are loads of other explanations and hypotheses about the Lancashire holes, as well as what it takes to fill the Albert Hall, on this same page. This is not meant to be a deep post (yesterday’s quotations from Umberto Eco will suffice for a few days), but you can find some references here to British culture, the meaning of holes, and the Tibetan Book of the Dead…

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