Sunday, 28 June 2020

The Mystery of The Prisoner

Why does he drive up The Mall? 

Following my post a few months ago on places in London associated with James Bond, I thought I would write this little piece on another fictional agent, Number Six in Patrick McGoohan's "cult" TV series The Prisoner. While much of the action is in Portmeirion, significant events, including the weekly opening sequence, take place in London and that is where Number Six lives.

Abingdon Street Car Park
There are many, many mysteries in The Prisoner, but one that's always mystified me is the route Number 6 takes in the opening title sequence, from his desk-thumping resignation to his home at 1 Buckingham Place, followed by the sinister hearse. The office of the mysterious agency from which he resigns seems to be a secret location hidden under College Green and accessed via the Abingdon Street underground car park, right opposite the Victoria Tower of the Houses of Parliament (where we see him bidding farewell to Number 2 at the end of the last episode). From there it is only a shortish walk to Buckingham Place, but of course he has his car with him, having driven in from who-knows-where to hand in his resignation, so he needs to drive home, but why that route?





The Prisoner's home in Buckingham Place
My assumption is that this drive home is between two anonymous places in London which we are not intended to identify, and a route is chosen which is long enough for the drama and which shows enough landmarks to place it clearly in London. While the agency's HQ can be placed by the arrival of Number Six's car in a street opposite the Houses of Parliament, his house is altogether more anonymous (although the street name can be read on the corner of the house for those who wish to place it - which is how I found it when I took the photograph!), especially since he arrived from an odd direction for someone driving from Parliament. A significant thing about the house which we do not take in until the very last episode is that its street number is 1. Number Six asks throughout his imprisonment who is Number One, but he answers the question himself when he goes home and passes through the front door with "1" on it, a door which, like those in The Village, opens by itself. 

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Here's hoping

Will travel be possible again soon?

Well, I have my "iconic blue" British passport in which Her Britannic Majesty requests everyone to let me through their borders without hindrance. I am not convinced I shall be hindered less than I was with my European Union passport, but this is the new reality and it no use pretending otherwise. I had to renew my passport because the trip to Italy which was to have happened in April was cancelled (well before the pandemic, nothing to do with that) and moved to the autumn, by which time less than six months was left on my old passport: given that we have left the Union and are well on our way to ending the transition year with no real agreement about borders I dare not risk it being so tight. So, I have a passport photo with my lockdown hair style ... or lack of hairstyle.

The real question, of course, is whether it will be of any use. With most of Eurostar's train sets in storage and staff on furlough, and with dire notices from rail companies in the UK only to use their services if absolutely necessary, am I going to be going to Italy anyway, or to anywhere else? Not just my passport, but my Senior Railcard (used just once since its renewal and well short of covering its cost) and my concessionary bus pass are also useless, as well as the hefty balance on my Oyster card. I have my car, of course, and parking is free in many places at present, but with holidays in the UK being encouraged and public transport being discouraged I dread the idea of driving to anywhere worth going this summer. The highways will be jammed, the car parks inadequate. We need to get back on the trains smartish or the nation will choke.

Meanwhile, I am taking the time not only to build the model railways I've been writing about, but also to sort out photographs from many years ago when I took them on film but was far too busy with a young family to sort of decent slide sequences - hopefully I'll publish the less personal ones here and/or on Flickr and YouTube before too long.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Now I am not travelling

A model railway evoking our trips to Switzerland


I have been to various parts of Switzerland several times over the last few years and decided that it was time to build a model which would include some aspects of Switzerland which had become familiar to us. It would have spiral tunnels, tracks that traversed the same valley two or three times, Kkiosk shops at the stations, Co-op supermarkets, log trains, postal containers ... and so on. I chose the Graubunden canton and the Rhaetian Railway because it had the spectacular engineering works I wanted because it is an adhesion railway, managing entirely without cog mechanisms to climb the hills.

The layout is currently in the early stages of construction, with just one station nearing completion - much more advanced than if I had not been stuck at home! The video below gives you the story so far, and more will follow on my new model railway blog, innsdorf.com.