As Michael Jennings has already reminded us, it is now that time of year, when we look back at the rest of the year. I too will now look back at 2009. Whereas Michael trots the globe, my preferred outdoor activity is walking around London, taking photos, an activity which, as of now, remains more or less legal.
And one of the things I especially like to photo is Evening Standard headlines. Not the headlines in the actual newspaper itself, but the ones on the outside of the contraptions behind which the sellers of the Evening Standard sit. I don’t do this as obsessively as this guy, but I do it every few days or so, whenever a particularly intriguing or doom-laden headline hoves into view.
Click on all these headlines to get the original picture that I took, often a bit prosaic, as in: just the headline and its immediate surroundings; but sometimes with further fun and games, in particular further headlines next to the one I’ve featured in the little squares below. So, for instance, to consider just the first two snaps, on Jan 5, besides the amazing news that it was quite cold in January 2009 (just as it is quite cold now – see Dec 22(a)) you can also see talk of “TORY TAX CUTS”. We wish. Still in January, you can ponder the ever widening gap that separates the ever more bogus hero Barack Obama from the real deal: “CAPTAIN COOL IN RIVER JET CRASH”.
The most regular themes are: economic woe, politicians cheating on their expenses, the consequent relentless criticism of and plotting against the Prime Minister, and the equally relentless way the Prime Minister just bashes on with his ruinous activities, seemingly impervious to all complaints.
See especially June 5, which is worth clicking on for, I humbly submit, artistic reasons This is certainly my favourite photo of all these, in terms of the atmosphere it evokes and the memories it will stir in me in future years, one of the main reasons I take photos being just remind myself of what I was interested in, whenever it was. I love that digital cameras automatically attach dates to everything. So, here we go.
There are three for July, because none of the three headlines you see seemed to me to deserve exclusion.
March 19, 23 – April 15, 24:
May 2, 5 – June 5, 24:
July 10, 21, 31 – August 11, 26:
September 8, 10 – October 8, 20:
November 17, 19 – December 22, 22:
Well, I hope you liked all that, even if without a lot of clicking.
You may now be saying to yourself that November and December have become pretty anti-climactic, and you would be right. For there is another story here, besides all the stories alluded to in the headlines. These photos serve not just as a random walk through the year 2009, but as a probable elegy for the Evening Standard itself, and certainly for the long London era of Evening Standard headlines in the streets.
Click on October 20 for the first clue. That’s right. Some time around then, the Evening Standard stopped costing any money, and started being handed out free. At first the guys giving it away carried on with the billboards, but I knew that this practice would soon fade away. If no money is being made in the street from these newspapers, why go to all the bother of advertising them in the street. So it is that if you click on the last picture of all, you see that where there used to be informatively alarming stories about doom and disaster, now there are only forlorn signs saying that the ES now costs nothing.
This switch to the ES being a giveaway came only a few months after its takeover by a Russian Oligarch. How soon before the ES vanishes altogether, becoming itself the subject of a few more doom-laden headlines in other organs, before it sinks from the memory of Londoners?