Snow crash

A few days ago, just round the corner from Hackney police station, I noticed a car abandoned, straddling a bus lane and half the pavement. A day or two later, also from the top of a bus, I noticed someone had painted the entire car — body, windows, tires, lights, the lot — completely white. Given the level of obstruction I was surprised the car hadn’t been towed, even in Hackney. But the white car looked very cool, beautiful even, and I was pleased by this temporary exhibit. I wondered if it was connected with the people Dan saw painting over flyposters with white paint last week, some kind of mass cleansing of London.

So I just went round to take some photos and noticed the car wasn’t completely white. I saw a stylised human on the bonnet and, as I walked round to the side my heart sank a little… stencilled spray-on graffiti read “There’s beauty in the squalor,” beneath a couple of stencil faces. Unless done with the wit of Banksy, stencilled graffiti is an almost message-free territorial marking of the Nathan Barley Hoxtonian artist wannabe. A text-free white car would have been abstract and ownerless. Instead it was spoiled by shallow and patronising sloganeering.

But, as I waited for another combat-trousered youngish thing to finish taking her photos, as I switched on my digital camera and thought about going back to my smart flat behind locked gates off Clapton’s “murder mile” and uploading the snaps to my weblog, I couldn’t help thinking this was all I deserved.


  • I think you’re being a bit harsh on yourself phil. My favourite bit was the fact that there’s a queue of people to take pictures of the white car. I saw a bloke on my street this morning taking pictures of the one way sign. he was combatted up too. had a very very expensive camera though - such is life.

  • …and to think I just walked past it and got on the train to work. What else am I missing by living without gates on the murder mile? should I install a gate to help with my perception of art? Discuss

  • Love your Pepys, and loved that car too. I liked the Percy the Penguin on the front. It made everyone who saw it happy, I think that’s the most important thing about it.

11 May 2003 in Writing

Paris photos and Kyupi Kyupi
Photos and strange art from a recent long weekend in Paris.

On this day I was reading