The Day the AZ Failed

So I have this very ancient copy of the London AZ I bought back in 1990. It has never once let me down. Together with my AZ I have cruised decades of urban deconstruction and skyline development, together with my AZ I have given directions to clueless locals equipped with smartphones. Logan says I should probably mention that it does not feature the Jubilee Line at all, but I don’t see this as a problem. The underground is, if words don’t deceive me, underground, and even when it happens to be overground, it is not something that should necessarily appear on a street map, in my opinion. The Jubilee Line is boring anyway, the Jubilee Line is so five years ago, and let the Tube print their nice updated leaflet for something, in addition to the good Tube map art.

Then came the day I wanted to go to the House of Illustrations to see the Inside Stories, Quentin Blake’s exhibition.

Granary square, what is this. I can give you a Granary road but according to googlemaps there’s a pedestrian bridge or something called Granary square. I do have that pedestrian bridge or something on my AZ but it bears no name.

It bears no name, can it be.

So on we go to King’s Cross Station and we emerge from the Regent’s Canal exit as instructed, and as soon as the sun hits my unbespectacled eyes an officer in uniform is ready to provide information about the brand new roads of the former industrial wasteland. I don the aviators and say, thank you, I think I’m headed that way. There’s a large pedestrian walkway, lined with big posters of the very House of Illustration I’m looking for, terminating in the pedestrian bridge or somenthing that now has a name. But what I want to say is, thank you for asking because you know, for the first time in my life I am venturing in territories uncharted by my AZ.

On the other side of the Regent’s Canal there’s in fact a square, very new and tidy, with play fountains and deck chairs, as well as a viewing platform to survey the building sites around, while the canal itself was recently enriched with floating isles for the local wildlife, a mini-wetland already inhabited by several coops, a lovely view indeed.


Illustration by Nina Cosford

Quentin’s Blake’s exhibition is of course a delight, especially the storyboards, the sketches and everything storytelling.


Now I will need Sad Book and The Boy in the Dress, a copy of my own I think.

I would also like to mention Rachel Lillie, the artist in residence (Q&A) who welcomed us in her studio and asked us if we were artists as well maybe, so we had to confess that we are in fact IT people, which always sounds a bit weird. It was good to meet her and talk about what’s happening in the Kings Cross area, uncharted territories.