Today’s advent picture is similar to the first, but has a different coloured central star. This seems to me to offer far more variation than one would see today. It is worthy of note that there are very few pedestrians admiring the window display and the vehicles on Regent Street in December 1963 are all taxis or buses.
As we set off for Southampton Parkway this morning, foraging ponies loomed out of a heavy mist weakly penetrated by a myopic sun resembling a haloed full moon shrouded by thick clouds. Visibility on the A31 was most meagre. There were some clear patches on the M27 giving layered views of the bordering forest trees. Foreground silhouettes would give way to a barely visible row followed by bright golden ones. The pattern would be repeated into the distance.
By the time my train had reached Waterloo the sun’s warmth had drawn most of the mist up into the ether. That which lingered over the Thames presented dreamy views of Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament. An oriental gentleman resting a super-long lens on the parapet of the Golden Jubilee Bridge told me what stunning sights he had just seen from the top of the London Eye. I apprised him of the reason I was unable to emulate him.
The Christmas fair on South Bank flourished. One of the stalls sold its own version of festive lighting. Like Catherine wheels they spun, expanded, and contracted. The timing of this photograph was a delicate matter of trial and error.
Crossing The Strand and walking through Trafalgar Square I was afforded a clearer view of the blue cockerel poised either to drink from the fountain or to peck at Nelson’s other eye. I now understand that the sculpture is not French after all. It is the work of German artist Katharina Fritsch who describes it as ‘feminist’.
On the piazza before the National Gallery a diminutive, motionless pirate perched on his own plinth. Dropping £1 into his hat I said: ‘If it’s worth a photograph, it’s worth a donation’. Silently, without moving any other, even facial, muscle, like a jointed puppet, he raised his glass in acknowledgement. I don’t know whether he had been aware I’d shot him.
From the square I walked up Haymarket to Piccadilly Circus and along Piccadilly itself to Green Park where I boarded a Jubilee Line train to Neasden and thence to Norman’s. Eros, presumably in preparation for the revelries to come, is now encased in a bubble.
A bagman I had seen over the years in numerous parts of London adjusted his load after having effected bicycle repairs.
Fortnum and Mason’s windows reflected the seasonal mood.
At Green Park I was to regret parting with my last coin. I needed a pee, which can now only be obtained by inserting 30p into a machine. So I had to ask the man at the ticket office to change a £10 note. The smallest coin he gave me was 50p. The machines don’t give change, so what once cost one old penny was subject to 120x inflation.
Norman fed us on a roast turkey and Christmas pudding lunch with which we shared an excellent bottle of Vacqueras 2011, after which I took my usual route to Carol’s and then on to Waterloo. Jackie collected me from Southampton.