London Reflections

Rose petals

We have begun to collect rose petals for confetti for Danni and Andy’s wedding next year. Last night Jackie researched methods of drying them, and began experimenting. So far it is a toss up between the microwave, and leaving them to crisp on kitchen roll. The problem with the microwave is timing. Anyone who has a dodgy toaster will know the extremes between under- and over- cooking that can be experienced.

Shed gravelMy contribution to the garden maintenance today was a bout of weeding and another raking the gravel on the back drive. Among Jackie’s planting and other activities, she found time to front her shed with a kick board and a strip of gravel. Where was the gravel to be obtained? From the back drive. When? Just as I stood admiring my bowling green level shingle.

I helped a bit with the project, then got the rake out again.

In between my spells in the garden I scanned another dozen slides from my Streets of London series, all produced in April 2004.

I will begin with one shot that I can’t quite locate, and does not legitimately belong in the series, because the street sign is illegible. I have a feeling it is in the developed area near The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. Maybe someone will recognise it. (On 21st July, Geoff Austin sent me this information in an e-mail: ‘Is the building opposite a restaurant? There’s something that looks as if it might be a menu on the wall. I ‘googled’ Teca, and found there was a Teca Restaurant in Brooks Mews W.1, some years ago but it seems to be closed now.’)

Streets of London 4.04 037

Whilst a young woman surveys an antiques shop window, an older gentleman avails himself of modern technology.

Glass on another scale, fronts so many newer, taller, buildings throughout London.

Streets of London 4.04 035

A massive structure on Euston Road offers a reflection of the Post Office Tower. When the tower was opened, by Harold Wilson, on 8th November 1965, it was, until 1980, the tallest building in the United Kingdom.

Still a major communications hub, the tower was officially opened to the public on 16 May 1966 by MP Tony Benn, and holiday camp entrepreneur Billy Butlin, who was to open an ill-fated enterprise. In addition to the communications equipment and office space, there were viewing galleries, a souvenir shop, and a rotating restaurant, the “Top of the Tower”, on the 34th floor.  It made one revolution every 22 minutes.

A bomb, responsibility for which was claimed by the Provisional IRA, exploded in the roof of the men’s toilets at the restaurant on 31 October 1971. This eating place has never re-opened.

Streets of London 4.04 042

Sometimes, the glass-sided buildings can offer confusing information. Eleven years on, studying this print of Luxborough Street, W1, I thought I must have printed it in reverse.

Other windows hold different attractions. Ann Summers, Wikipedia tells us, ‘is a British multinational retailer company specialising in sex toys and lingerie, with over 140 high street stores in the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands and Spain.[1] In 2000, Ann Summers acquired the Knickerbox brand,[2] a label with an emphasis on more comfortable and feminine underwear, while the Ann Summers-labelled products tend to be more erotic in style. The chain had an annual turnover of £117.3 million in 2007-2008.’

Streets of London 4.04 040

Naturally, there is one in Soho’s Wardour Street. I wonder what the smiling woman thought I was doing.

Streets of London 4.04 041

Most gentlemen looked the other way, while one woman examined the hem-lines displayed in Bruton Street.

Streets of London 4.04 044

A book shop in Dean Street was undergoing a face-lift.

Streets of London 4.04 036

Another stands at the corner of Brewer Street near the entrance to Raymond’s Revue Bar, which closed later that year. A signed 1951 photograph of the Festival of Erotica’s proprietor features in

New plantings of London planes were to be seen in

Streets of London 4.04 043

Fitzroy Street,

Streets of London 4.04 039

and on the corner of Warren Street.

Bronze statues of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Sir Winston Churchill sit conversing on a bench in Mayfair, where Old Bond Street meets New Bond Street. Called ‘Allies’ this artwork was a gift from the Bond Street Association (the shops and businesses of Bond Street) to the City of Westminster to commemorate 50 years of peace. Lawrence Holofcener, a sculptor with dual nationality created this landmark which was unveiled by Princess Margaret on 2 May 1995.

Streets of London 4.04 045

 The flower seller at the corner of Clifford Street has a less comfortable perch. This must have been one of the very rare occasions on which I have passed this spot when no tourist was posing between the great wartime leaders.

For this evening’s dinner, Jackie created a delicious new dish she termed Downton Hotpot. This consisted of lean minced beef baked with a topping of sliced potatoes and a later addition of peppers and onions. Cabbage, cauliflower, and carrots completed the menu. I drank more of the merlot, while Jackie quaffed her beloved Belgian Hoegaarden beer.

P.S. My friend, Michael Watts, made this comment on Facebook: ‘Derrick I thought you might like to know that ‘The Post Office Tower ‘ restaurant is opening on the 25th July for two weeks, to celebrate 50 years of communications. Entree is by ballot, which unfortunately I have missed !!
Be interesting to know if it still has the same decor.’


  1. I suppose you didn’t get a photo of Jackie WAITING for you to finish raking before desiring the gravel. This garden shed will be your ruin, Derrick.

  2. Love these photos Derrick. I know some of those streets too!
    I did not know the history of the Post Office Tower – How fascinating! Thank you for sharing these treasures!

  3. I wonder is there a subliminal message in your pairing of London photos against the backdrop of the garden shed saga? Your photos make me want to travel.

  4. I like the Streets of London photos and am inspired to start a Streets of Adelaide series 🙂 Going interstate to visit my old friend Pauline today.

  5. You do have a way of triggering memories Derrick. In 1971 my dad took me to see England v India at the Oval. Day one was brilliant, day two a way out. So he took me up the Post a office tower. Naturally the view from the top was rubbish but the moving restaurant brilliant . That would have been the back end of August so just a few months before it closed for good.

      1. We may well have sat near each other. I was until 1970. We moved to Hampshire in 1969 and I joined them in 1972. John Edrich was my first cricketing hero alongside Geoff ‘Horse’ Arnold.

          1. Oh Derrick, you must be photoshopping yourself then. No way?! Actually that makes me even more jealous. As a Surrey supporter I was so green about anyone who had actually lived through the seven glorious years of the 50s. I had all the Wisden and read books on the Bedsers, Lock Laker Surridge, Loader May.. I wanted to be the wicket keeper, whose name of course escapes me now. I told Old Alf Gover when dad took me to the cricket school in Wandsworth back in 1960 something. He aid I was too tall and should stick to batting!

          2. Thank you Geoff. Arthur McIntyre? I remember dashing home from school to listen to Jim Laker’s all ten. I took our son Matthew to Alf Gover’s in the late 70s when the great bowler would have been about 70, and not doing much coaching himself. He insisted on taking on Mat, who, unfortunately wasn’t interested in pursuing his talent.

          3. I think Mr Gover recognised I had no real talent! Arthur McIntyre,of course. Thanks. I’ve read about both his 10 at Old Traffordand at the Oval in the county game. Oh to have been able to listen to that!

          4. Actually I blame Cowdrey for catching MacDonald – the man never did have a sense of history but then he played for Kent. Nuff said.

  6. Interesting photos and commentary. Really drew me in. I wonder when glass architecture began to become common. I like the style of building behind the bronze statues of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Sir Winston Churchill. But you can’t make them into skyscrappers I suppose.

  7. I delightful walk through the city. Love the FDR-Churchill bench … and one I know my wife would definitely pose for. No help here with drying rose petals. Good luck with the wedding planning.

  8. What a lovely tour, Derrick! Enjoyed myself tremendously… sigh… as close as I’ll get for a good long while to crossing the pond!

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