On September 28th 1987, The Smiths released their last ever album ‘Strangeways, here we come’. It’s hard to believe that this is almost exactly 24 years ago now as I can remember the day itself.
I was 17 and at Frogmore Sixth Form then, taking my A-levels. In those days new records and movies came out in London first and then dripped out to the provinces over the following days and weeks. Even though we were only just outside London, it would still be impossible to get a copy of the album on the day of release, so me and a mate – David Ovington – took off on a bus to London that morning.
We got out at Kensington High street and bought copies of the album at Tower records, before crossing the street and catching a bus in the opposite direction.
We both went directly back to the sixth form common room and played the new album, much to the interest of the other assembled teenagers who were impressed at our dedication to Morrissey.
I haven’t bought a physical album for years now. The last one I know that I bought was the Manic Street Preachers, Journal for Plague Lovers, and that was because I specifically wanted the artwork. Apart from that, everything is downloaded or streamed these days.
For that reason, it harks back to a very different age. A time when two teenagers would spend most of a day just travelling to get hold of a piece of vinyl on the day it is released – a romantic idea that is already history and to the kids growing up today will sound archaic and deluded.
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Tagged 12", 1987, album, alder valley, bus, community college, david ovington, download, frogmore, indie, journal for plague lovers, joyce, kensington, london, londonlink, lp, manic street preachers, marr, morrissey, music, music mp3, record, rock, rough trade, rourke, sixth forum, smiths, strangeways, strangeways here we come, tower records, vinyl, yateley
OK, so the photo is from Diadema, just outside São Paulo city centre, but it gives an indication of what a bus stop looks like here. It’s just a marker for where the bus will stop.
There is no information on which buses go past this stop, or where they go, or how frequently they run. Just a marker that says ‘this is a bus stop’.
I’m used to the spider map system in London, which is just great. You can get onto a bus you are not familiar with and know exactly where it will go because the stylised maps depict the entire route of the bus. People in London still complain that the spider maps for buses don’t integrate well enough into the tube and rail maps, but at least there is an excellent mapping system for every bus that runs through London.
I spoke to someone about this a few days ago, another foreigner who has made São Paulo his home, though he has been here since the 1980s. He said that it’s because only poor people use the buses and they will mostly know which bus they are taking so have no need for maps, and if they wanted to complain then they have less of a voice and less knowledge of how to organise an effective campaign to improve matters.
Well here in Brazil, I’m supposed to be one of the class A – the elite members of society – and yet I use the bus almost every day. I would really appreciate some way of knowing where the bus goes. It’s fine for me to go from home to a central point like Paulista Avenue, but the moment I want to figure out how to get to somewhere new, like Brooklin, I have no way of planning a route or checking where buses go. I just have to aim north, south, east, west on a bus I don’t know and hope for the best.
Surely it’s time to give the people of São Paulo some more information on the 1,000 or so bus routes here, and secondly, wouldn’t it encourage some more of the middle classes to use the bus if they knew where it was going?