If you look very closely at the lower left quadrant of this scene, you can see that the zoomed-in panel contains an actual image of a very minor character in I Am Not Gog: Ruth the pigeon.
Since Lydia’s sojourn in Grimsby thirteen years ago, Grimsby’s bus station has had a significant redesign. I knew the place was due an overhaul, but I didn’t expect it to be quite so half-arsed. As it is, they appear to have just removed the shelters and moved the line of stands perpendicular to where they were. They are now along the row of buildings at the end, leaving a big open space. Perhaps they use the space for something useful like a market or ribbon-dancing performances. If anyone knows, please contact me and I’ll set the record straight here. It is still properly called the Riverhead Exchange, but the name is not mentioned in the novel lest it be taken as being symbolic in some way.
I do have a couple of my own research photos of the station, but they are not as good as this panoramic Google Maps’ Street View image, so thanks to Google for that. I was lucky to catch this image. Due to the patchwork nature of Street View updates, there are images from at least three different years at this location. This one is April 2009. Take a step forward and you see an image from October 2012 (similar but without the scaffolding). Move to the right and you are suddenly in July 2017 after the redesign and its big open space.
At least three years after my research trip in 2006, it must have been this Street View image that inspired me to use the scaffold in Lydia’s story, because there certainly wasn’t any scaffolding when I was there according to my own photos. The tall streetlights remain in the middle of the now clear open space, but the telephone boxes have been removed, which is sort of sad because one of them really did have a door that was slightly bent out at the bottom by vandals.
The lifespan of pigeons varies between three to five years, so it is perfectly possible that the pigeon in this image, captured in 2009, four years after Lydia was there, could have been Ruth the pigeon who flew past her head and landed on the builder’s sign. The bird would have been in her last winter here. Rest in peace, Ruth.