Views Through a Coach Window

I will preface this piece by advising readers not to ever, under any circumstances, use the coach company Terravision. Not unless you want to film a documentary about people who couldn't give a shit about their jobs.

In my last piece I was exploring London by foot, this time the exploration would consist of glimpses through the glazing of a coach window. I was taking a trip out of London to Stansted Airport with my girlfriend and her brother, Carlos, in order to welcome their mother in Arrivals.  


This gave me a unique opportunity to view the outer suburbs of London. These areas, to me, always conjure up an air of mystery, they're the end of the tube line, normally in the obscure Zones of 5 or 6. With names like High Barnet or Cockfosters, they represent the quiet edge of a ever growing and crowded city. I'm reminded of Arcade Fires 2010 album The Suburbs; it paints a bleak and romantic picture of them, lamenting that "Dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains".

We boarded the coach at Kings Cross and travelled from there through Camden High Street, at which point it started to rain. We watched, in the relative comfort of the coach seats, people scrambling for their umbrellas or taking shelter in doorways, under awnings or simply facing the weather. I have to admit, I love photographing when it's raining.

After Camden we crawled slowly in traffic through Finsbury. The rain started to subside and the sun started to burn through the clouds.

After Finsbury the coach made its way through more boroughs before we hit the 'Spawls'. Here, we discovered ugly shopping warehouses and bleak industrial wastelands. I'm reminded of what Stephen Fry once said on a old episode of Room 101 when he was bemoaning decorative plates:

"All of nature is absolutely and unconditionally beautiful, whether it's a jungle, whether it's a desert, whether it's the Arctic wastes. The only ugly things you'll see are things made by man."

I am often reminded of this quote when I'm editing my photo's. Much of what we build today favours, rightly, functionality over beauty. This means, we as the viewers and users of these instruments live among them 24/7. However, although I find these things ugly, I have learnt to find beauty in them, and I try to show that in my photography. Indeed, if it wasn't for the ugly functionality and aggressive precision of an aircraft, it would be much harder for my girlfriend to be reunited with her mother; which is a beautiful thing.