Station art, and the NHS

mural

For some reason, Sudbury Town tube station doesn’t seem to attract such throngs of tourists as the Sistine Chapel.

The station’s recent ceiling murals have been cheering me up during three months of anxiety. All of a sudden my tongue became partially paralysed, which led to me having a series of MRI and CT scans; meanwhile my mouth gradually returned to normal. While surgery on my brain or carotid artery have eventually been discounted (which is always nice), something weird is evidently going on with my blood circulation. If I haven’t already had a stroke, I’m clearly at risk of one now; at one stage a doctor described me as a ticking time-bomb, though by now I seem to be ticking more gently. Rather than more drastic interventions, I’m grateful to be prescribed daily aspirin, which I regard as a kind of post-prandial espresso shot. Still, after this brush with mortality I’m feeling frail and wary.

Consultants seem rather intrigued by what seems to be be a rare problem: I’m not sure whether to feel proud or alarmed. Whenever I see a new doctor I hasten to explain that my speech impediment is, um, normal. Brain working all funny, speech slurred—in my case, how could one tell the difference?! While my tongue was on strike, eating and drinking were something of a challenge (“Do you drink a lot?” “No, I spill most of it”).

On the plus side, my hospital visits have at least got me out of the house. It’s been a pleasure to experience the architecture of various parts of London that I might not usually think of visiting. A particular hail to the 44 bus, which kindly takes me all the way to my scans, virtually door to door (Thankyou Driver, as I never say).

ST tube

And en route to the main hospital I’ve been charmed by Sudbury Town tube station (redesigned in 1931 by Charles Holden), with its recent Pleasure’s inaccuracies ceiling murals by Lucy McKenzie—see here, and here, as well as this short film:

Indeed, my journey starts at Chiswick Park, another Art Deco station:

Chiswick Park

For more on murals, see Michael Palin’s Sistine Chapel story, a fantasy Coronavirus mural (Appendix here), and the Chiswick Timeline project; for variants of Leonardo’s Last Supper, click here and here. And numerous posts here feature murals in China (type “mural” into the sidebar Search box).

Alas, in between my first and most recent visits to Sudbury Town this platform billboard has disappeared:

cognac

Following John Betjeman, among those who explore the unlikely architectural delights of suburban London are Iain Sinclair (London orbital, 2002)—a lively contributor to the LRB—and Joshua Abbott (here, and here). For tube stations, see also here.

Anyway, everyone I’ve seen at the NHS has been wonderful: kind, thoughtful, efficient. They deserve far more than a token clap (see note here, and again under Thankyou Driver).

Chinese peasants, for whom health care is less accessible, might pledge a vow, redeeming it by sponsoring an Offering ritual. The Sun dance of Plains Indians is also occasioned by vows. Indeed, Italians in Harlem commonly made vows for good health in the context of the Madonna cult. Me, I’m just happy to resume regular swimming, the occasional G&T,

and visits to Istanbul—from where, greetings!

6 thoughts on “Station art, and the NHS

  1. Thanks for another absorbing post, even if prompted by an unwelcome issue (sorry driver!). Southgate (when devoid of Gareth) is another fine deco station, flying saucer-like especially at night.
    Keep ticking over (gently), swimming… and Istanbul!

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  2. Hi Stephen, we’re not acquaintances, I am a fellow soul with an interest in Daoism and Chinese popular religion. Just wanted to let you know how much I’m enjoying your fascinating work! Take care!

    Liked by 1 person

      • I have been using the annotation of the 早晚功課經 he edited (although not all entries are of the same quality) for my Dutch translation of the text, but I never had the opportunity to meet him when he was alive. A couple of years ago the opportunity presented itself to spend six months at a temple in southern Henan. After arriving there it turned out that the temple housed a statue and small commemorative mausoleum dedicated to Master Min (it is located in the district where he was born and he calculated the location for the rebuilding of the temple that had been completely destroyed during the Cultural Revolution) containing some of his belongings and his ‘divine bones’. There may have been no actual bones there or even ashes. He was (the only Daoist who was ever ?) entombed at the Babaoshan Cemetery for Revolutionary Heroes outside of Beijing (revolutionary heroes all got cremated, with one exception). I did clean the mausoleum regularly (a small circular structure on the top of a hill, closed to the public) and did some renovations before I left and later again when I returned.

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