Monday, 21 April 2014

Orphaned adverts and disconnects

The No 57 tram stopped here in Frederick Street, Edinburgh.

A friend once told me that one of my biggest strengths as a facilitator is my ability to make connections. I also have a tendency to notice disconnects.

Orphaned Adverts

I can’t help noticing out-of-date adverts on the underground. There are places on the London network where posters for shows that have closed linger on. At the foot of an escalator at Oxford Circus, a touring version of the “The Nutcracker” from a former republic of the Soviet Union, plays on. Did anyone go? Are some adverts doomed never to find an audience?

The British Linen Bank, 141 Princes Street, Edinburgh, 1920s

Banks that were cashed in

Also the crests and names above the doors of former banks, now amalgamated, and - final insult - turned into a Wetherspoons pub, or worse. The National Provincial Bank carved in stone in Piccadilly, London. The British Linen Bank in George Street, Edinburgh. Cheques are no longer accepted here.

Severed from the network

And railway stations severed from the network. The Caledonian Railway terminus on Princes Street Edinburgh, where Queen Elizabeth II and the King of Norway arrived in a train from Leith Central Station in 1962. Aged 9, I watched the royals go by from a window at the West End Branch of the British Linen Bank, now – wait for this – selling tartan souvenirs.

Leith Central Station in 1962

Left by the roadside

And tram stops. In Frederick Street, Edinburgh, a damaged but decorative tram stop from the original network survives at the edge of the kerb. People park their cars beside it. The No 57 tram stopped here. And, by the way, trams are back on Princes Street after 57 years. Why did I notice the tiles, and why does this one stop survive? It’s like the adverts in the underground. The meaning has gone out of its message.

Loss Aversion

Behavioural theorists say that we have a tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains. I get a lot of messages from the past. 'See this show!' 'Bank with us!' 'Catch a train!' 'Get on a tram!' It’s not exactly nostalgia. It’s more about noticing connections, and making meaning. My mum always said I was good at noticing things.

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