The Null Device
Whether the London Underground is the greatest public transport system in the world is debatable, but it certainly seems to be one of the most branded. The range of Tube-brand merchandise you can buy is astounding; it ranges from T-shirts and fridge magnets to saucy underwear and tea. The only thing that seems to be missing is Tube toothpaste.
Also, the mythology of the Underground extends beyond its history and famous ghost stations; in the London Transport Museum shop, there were not only books on the history of the Underground (quite a few of those, going all the way up to expensive coffee-table books), and books on the history of each line thereof, but books on the history of the famous Tube map, and of the typefaces used for signage. Not to mention a boxed PC/Mac version of the Tube font itself (Johnston Underground, from US type foundry P22), which appears in the new title graphic of this page).
A few photos from Portobello Market last Saturday:
This chap's name appears to be Mafa Mianmaud Bamba, and he is a localised celebrity of some sort, at least for his mad hairdo. He was standing near a wall, with a rack of postcards of himself which he was giving away for free, and smiling at people. A number of people posed for photos with him. I don't know whether he has any other claim to fame other than his hair.
A woman with an antique barrel organ and a pram full of small dogs in hand-knitted woollen cardigans. She would turn the handle and the dogs would yap. Almost like something out of the English equivalent of a Jeunet & Caro movie or something.
Marxist chic appears to be big in the yoof-oriented parts of London, with Soviet-flag T-shirts and numerous items of Che merchandise all over market stalls. In fact, not far from where this picture was taken, someone was selling Che handbags. This particular variant of the icon appears on the railway bridge across Portobello Rd.
(I also saw some Giant stickers nearby; though, so far, I haven't seen one THIS IS A HEAVY PRODUCT sticker anywhere in London.)