Piccadilly Circus from Regent Street in December 1963 is today’s advent picture. The circus was originally created in 1819, although it has undergone various alterations in the almost two centuries that have elapsed since then. Having been used for advertising since the early 1900s, this is possibly the oldest and most famous site in the world sporting illuminated advertising signs. The lighting was first provided by incandescent light bulbs that gradually made way for neon which in turn finally bowed out to LEDs in 2011.
A building at the left hand corner of Regent Street partly obscures the Coca Cola sign that was first plugged in 1954. As far as I am aware this is the only product that has continuously graced the circus in the intervening years up to the present day. I was 12 when the young lady in the photograph put the finishing touches to the original C.
Anyone who has seen the recent photographs of our own Christmas decorations may have some idea of the number of large containers, stored full in the garage throughout the rest of the year. Now empty, they were this morning returned to their home, to be brought back, refilled, and replaced, after the festivities.
After this, mild as this December so far is, it was time to prepare for winter’s inevitable onslaught. Most of the plants in Jackie’s temporary garden were annuals. These pots for these required tidying away.
Now for the birds. Jackie stopped feeding them during the summer because she was tired of cleaning their droppings from her plants. Mind you, if they hadn’t been so prolific with their guano which contained various undigested items, we would not have enjoyed the sunflowers. The birds will soon begin their struggle to survive and the plants have all but given up the ghost. So we filled up the feeders. No doubt, like last winter, it will take our avian visitors a day or two to become confident that the only shots aimed in their direction will be from my camera.
Lunch today came with instructions to eat an inordinate amount of cucumber. This is because, having stocked up yesterday in preparation for the hoards we expect next week, Jackie found one in the car park. I trust it will not be repeated.
This afternoon Jackie drove us to Lymington where we visited the St Barbe Museum, where the town’s memorabilia are housed in a former Victorian school begun with a donation from Mrs St Barbe.
This being a museum of the area including various seaside holiday destinations like Milford on Sea, I imagine it was appropriate that the entrance lobby contained a display of women’s bathing costumes from the 1900s to the 1970s. It struck me that as the covering of the female form grew more scanty so must the bodies that would be eventually just about contained within the garments.
The history of the area is told in posters with accompanying photographs and prints on the walls of two large rooms. One example is the photos of Barton on Sea’s cliff collapse of the last century. A long floor to ceiling cabinet displays artefacts down the ages from prehistory to decades of the 20th Century. I was intrigued to see at the rear of the 1930s section an HMV record player similar to the one that Chris and I had enjoyed in the 1940s, behind a cup and saucer very like a pair that Ali and Steve gave to Jessica and me in the 1990s. Jackie and I still have the cups and saucers, but the record player suffered somewhat because my brother and I had no gramophone needles, so one of us wound the handle while the other held a rather blunt pin in the grooves to play the music. I am not sure whether the records or the machine lasted longer.
The rest of the exhibition consists of remarkable tableaux with excellent artwork, and outstandingly good models of humans. The first example of this which quite entranced me was the smuggler Bob the Barberous (sic). I was repeatedly tempted to prod him to see if he was real.
The display I could not at first get near was of Marsh and Mud, and contained a punt gun mounted on a gun punt. The reason I could not reach it was because it abounded with primary school children leaping all over the place and creating a row that would have drowned out the sound of the weapon itself. I then realised why the attendant had apologised in advance for this phenomenon, and decided to view the exhibition widdershins. After the marauding infants had departed the custodian examined the wig of the occupant of the punt to ensure that it was still securely in place.
In another scene, Jackie was startled to look up and see a male diver about to descend upon her. Fortunately he was wearing a 1920s outfit.
There is a well-stocked shop and gallery of well-crafted and reasonably priced art works.
This evening we dined on chicken kiev, ratatouille, mashed potatoes and swede, broccoli and brussels sprouts. I finished the Isla Negra.