Cartographic Madness

Hey, I’ve never claimed to be normal…

You know, as far back as I can remember, I’ve always loved maps. I don’t know exactly when or where my love affair with cartography began, but I rather suspect it had something to do with Arthur Ransome and his Swallows and Amazons books. Each one had a map right at the start, showing all the locations in the story. It’s been years since I read any of them, but I reckon I could still draw a pretty good map of the lake just from memory.

More than just loving maps, I’ve always loved making maps. Again I think Arthur Ransome is the culprit, Secret Water was all about map making (and mastadons, and eels, and almost drowning when the tide comes in). As a kid the walls of my room were plastered with hand drawn maps of locations from just about every book I read, and even now I’ll occasionally just grab a piece of paper and whip up a map of some kind, just for the heck of it.

All this may explain why I’ve spent a good four or five hours over the last few days doing my damn well best to figure out where Connor lives in Warren Ellis’s FreakAngels.

Careful examination of the scenes outside Connor’s place in episode two reveal a number of distinctive features…

  • It’s a narrow, two lane street
  • There’s a traffic light and a zebra crossing
  • There are tall, detached buildings on both sides
  • One building has two distinctive, urn-like details on top
  • Across the road from the urn building is one with a truncated mansard roof
  • There’s a t-junction close by (seen when KK lands her ‘bike’)

Now, all of this means nothing because surely it’s just a comic right? Well, possibly not. Paul Duffield has apparently made a few trips to Whitechapel to take reference images, and plenty of real places (the Ten Bells Pub, Christ Church, the Spitalfields Market) turn up. So there’s a reasonable chance that Connor’s street is a real one.

So, I’ve been driving myself to distraction examining Whitechapel street by street in Google Earth, and then looking at hundreds of images tagged ‘whitechapel’ on Flickr for clues.

No dice. I am rapidly reaching the conclusion that the scenes in episode 2 are at best heavily modified, and at worst a portmanteau of several different places (suggested perhaps by the fact that the torn, red awning switches building between frames, and the idea that a small, narrow street would have a zebra crossing ). So I guess I’ll just have to take a punt on where to put Connor’s place on the next version of the Google Earth file.

At least until someone makes a map of all the zebra crossings in Whitechapel 🙂

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