Stretching from Euston Road to the Thames, the inscrutable red marking appeared a couple of months ago. Londonist was unable to get to the bottom of it, despite walking the entire route. BBC London TV also investigated, but were similarly baffled. Step up to the plate Robert Elms, host of Londonist’s favourite radio show (BBC London 12-3pm). One of his listeners raised the question of the line, and Robert decided to investigate.
A series of semi-coherent and unlikely phone suggestions ensued:
- A new congestion charge zone for pedestrians.
- The perimeter line of the 1-mile exclusion zone, centered on Parliament Square, within which protests are forbidden.
- A walking route between two hospital (discounted on the technicality that neither end leads to a hospital).
- A rag-week student stunt.
- Banksy and/or other guerrilla artists.
- Route of an old water outlet/cable/lost river.
Just when it looked like we’d be swimming in hopeless conjecture all afternoon, Elms received a call from a guy called Nick in central London. Nick claimed to know who the clandestine painter was and then, amazingly, handed the phone over to the self-confessed culprit.
A well-spoken lady, who wished to remain anonymous, told listeners how she had spray-painted the line back in January under the cover of darkness. She started at the Thames end and worked her way north, only being spotted once, by a lone taxi driver.
Elms questioned her about whether the line held any significance. She replied that it formed part of an as-yet incomplete circle, whose meaning she didn’t wish to disclose at this point. Apparently, she’s enjoying all the media speculation and the notoriety her handiwork has generated, and doesn’t want to lose the mystique just yet. She then went on to describe the line as art, and, on prompting from Elms, said it was in the same spirit as Banksy - illegal, mysterious street art.
Although there’s no way of knowing whether this was a hoax call, the caller spoke knowledgably and came across convincingly. But we have a few reservations. The incomplete circle idea is interesting, but if you look at our map, it seems hard to conceptualise the route thus far as forming part of a circle. Also, if the line was spray painted, how would she explain the near-consistent thickness? Her back must have been aching something rotten the next morning from all the stooping.
Keep your eyes peeled for further instalments, and let us know if you spot anything. And we'd love to hear from the alleged artist herself if she's reading this.
Thanks to readers Ali and Ingrid for tipping us off about yesterday’s show.