Madness of crowds: shirt tails

In his history Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (the work that lends its title to this column), Charles Mackay disdains the matter of fashion, regarding it as such a transparently crazy and bewilderingly evanescent phenomenon, that to discuss this or that rage for apparel would be quite de trop.

Graffiti at Brixton McDonald’s

The writer Chris Hall, that redoubtable Ballardian observer of the craziness of the modern inscape, recently sent me a link to an Evening Standard item on the redecoration of the Brixton branch of McDonald’s. It may well be that others of these low-esteemed eateries have been similarly tricked out; but if it’s Brixton alone, either the higher-ups in the chain’s chain are complete and utter bastards, or they’re unbelievably shrewd.

Madness of crowds: escalator etiquette

Yes, it’s official: standing on busy escalators is faster than walking up (or down) them. Research undertaken by my favourite local transport provider, Transport for London, has conclusively proved that if people stand on both sides of the escalator during peak travel times, the numbers carried can increase by as much as a third.

Well, for once that’s a piece of good crowd news in our febrile and fissiparous world, guiding us towards sensible mass behaviour of a type to appal Yevgeny Zamyatin: think We, people, not a Beckettian I. TfL’s aim is to introduce standing-only escalators at some of its busiest and deepest stations in order to cut down on congestion.

Would JG Ballard have liked the film version of High-Rise?

Of the film adaptations that had been made of his work during his lifetime, JG Ballard vouchsafed to me that he liked Jonathan Weiss’s version of The Atrocity Exhibition the best. It was hardly a surprising verdict; the movie, released in 2000, eschews any of the easy certainties of narrative for a furious collage of extreme images – urban wastelands, nuclear explosions, penises rhythmically pumping in and out of vaginas – all to the accompaniment of a voice-over comprising near-verbatim passages from the quasi-novel. And as the book is a furious collage of extreme images, the film is of the highest fidelity imaginable.