Floating Leaves


Today the skies were overcast and leaking drizzle. Jackie continued planting and weeding this morning, and I transported compost to fill the hole left by the ficus Aaron had removed yesterday.

This afternoon I scanned the next dozen colour slides from my Streets of London series, produced in September 2004.

Inglebert Street EC1 9.04

‘There is something timeless about the appeal of an authentic rock and roll pub, where the floor sticks to one’s battered old boots and the whiskey-flavoured tang of a hundred past nights of recklessness is tangible in the air. Such places are hard to come by, for the swagger of tarnished glamour is not something that can be easily imitated. Filthy MacNasty’s on the corner of Amwell Street near Angel is one such place. Attracting weekend rock stars from all walks of life, with the lingering aura of countless cigarette breaths, Filthy’s was once home to a mad, mixed bunch of poets and dustmen, philosophers and gardeners. Its gritty credentials include a delightfully dishevelled list of clientele, including Shane McGowan, Irvine Welsh, Johnny Depp and of course Peter Doherty, who tended the bar here in the early days of The Libertines.

 Known for serving ‘the second best Guinness in London’, Filthy’s is something of a cultural landmark. Its cracked leather seats and low-lit tables have played host to photography exhibitions and to impromptu Pete and Carl sing-alongs. Former NME journalist and author Paolo Hewitt used to organise literary nights under the title ‘The Sharper Word’, which saw the likes of Chris Difford of Squeeze and Ian McLagan of Small Faces, as well as political poet John Sinclair dropping by to do readings and play a few songs to the unsuspecting crowd, securing the pub’s spot in musical and literary history.

The pub is certainly ingrained in the blood stained pages of Doherty’s infamous Books of Albion, and The Libertines played many characteristic guerrilla-style gigs here, as well as serving as a place for Pete to sleep when he had nowhere else to go. In the height of Libertines furor, Filthy’s hosted an exhibition of the band’s gig posters, and girls would flock to the bar asking to see the walls of Doherty’s old bedroom upstairs.’

So wrote Jessica Andrews on the londonist in June 2013 when this establishment on the corner of Inglebert Street, EC1 was about to be closed and replaced by a gastropub.

River Street EC1

Contemporary with Doherty’s band, Oasis advertises on the boarded up window of the empty Village Buttery on nearby River Street.

Lloyd Baker Street WC1 9.04

Crossing Amwell Street from there we come to Lloyd Baker Street, where Jessica, Michael, and I lived in 1974/5. This street,

Lloyd Square WC1 9.04

Lloyd Square,

Granville Street WC1 9.04

and Granville Street are all parts of the listed Lloyd Baker Estate. The latter is now overshadowed by developments in

Kings Cross Road WC1 9.04

 Kings Cross Road, opposite The Union Tavern, a splendid Victorian pub on the corner shared with Lloyd Baker Street.

Calthorpe Street WC1 9.04

Crossing Kings Cross Road at this point we reach Calthorpe Street WC.

Neal's Yard WC2 9.04

From Lloyd Baker Street we had moved on to live in Horse and Dolphin Yard in Soho. Neal’s Yard, then just forming part of the Covent Garden developments, is, according to Wikipedia, ‘a small alley in London’s Covent Garden between Shorts Gardens and Monmouth Street which opens into a courtyard. It is named after the 17th century developer, Thomas Neale.[1] It now contains several health food cafes and values driven retailers such as Neal’s Yard Remedies, Neal’s Yard Dairy, Casanova & daughters and Wild Food Cafe.[2][3]

Horse and Dolphin Yard was a tiny mews off Macclesfield Street which linked Gerard Street and

Shaftesbury Avenue W1 9.04

Shaftesbury Avenue. The eponymous theatre is shown in this shot. The car driver didn’t comment on my activity.

Regent's Canal 9.04Floating leaves and seeds

Regent’s Canal is not exactly a street of London, but I have run or walked many miles along this stretch, so it seems appropriate that a couple of slides of this slipped into the collection.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla, where food and service was as excellent and friendly as ever. My choice was lamb achari and special fried rice; Jackie’s was chicken shashlick, salad, and vegetable curry. We both drank Kingfisher. The restaurant took delivery of a new range of food heaters yesterday, and presented us with two of the older ones which will come in very useful.

Far More Insulting Than Two

Raindrops on bottle brush budsRaindrops on poppy budRaindrops on geraniums

This morning more drops of precipitation bestowed magnifying lenses upon the burgeoning bottle brush plants and poppies; and upon the fully grown pink geraniums.

After lunch we drove to Milford Sand & Ballast to buy three more bags of cement for Aaron’s work on Sunday.

When, yesterday, I embarked on yet another series of photographs with which to prod my memory and illustrate my posts, I thought I would have a recap.

First, we have Elizabeth’s ‘Through the ages’ portraits of me.

Becky, Derrick, Sam, Matthew, Louisa, and Michael

Number 60 is dated 5th October 1991. It is easy to remember because it represents my contribution to the gathering of the clans at Tanfield Road, South Croydon, on the occasion of Michael and Heidi’s wedding. I have an arm round each of Becky and Sam. My eldest son has made an early start on the wine. Louisa, who would say that she always looked forward to Matthew’s visits so that she could climb all over him, is already on his lap.

I am also working my way through my early colour slides. Today I scanned a set of Jackie taken in December 1972, when I spent Christmas with her and the children. Here are three of the portraits:

Jackie 12.72 003 - Version 2Jackie 12.72 005 - Version 2 Jackie 12.72 006 - Version 2

This was a very painful time, but we did our best.

After this came the identification and scanning of unsorted negatives, including

Sam at Carole and Brian's wedding  1982

 Sam and Snoopy at Carole and Brian’s wedding meal in 1982;

Louisa 1983 002

Louisa, delighted to be on her feet, flashing her new choppers in 1983;

Sam and Louisa 1983 001

Sam, passing on the benefits of his wisdom;

Jessica and Sam 1983 002

And Jessica singing to him from a song sheet that same year.

Another set is the Streets of London, begun yesterday. Today’s selection from those scanned today were photographed in April 2004.

Streets of London 4. 04 014

Yesterday we saw the point where Maida Avenue joins Warwick Avenue. Here we see Regents canal and its narrow boats running alongside it. There really is a slope in the road. This area is known as Little Venice, and the boats you see are residential. Mooring fees are now pretty prohibitive, but there is a keen community living afloat.

Streets of London 4. 04 015

Just around the corner from there, is Warwick Crescent, W2. The view here is from one of the counselling rooms I rented during the ’80s and ’90s.

Streets of London 4. 04 016

The elegant, I think Georgian, dwellings of Park Place Villas W2, are overlooked by the red-haired tower block soaring further up Edgware Road. It dominated the skyline of the vicinity.

Streets of London 4. 04 018

Another shot from my counselling room window looks down to Harrow Road, W2. The scene features a very large roundabout, in the centre of which is a building that was unoccupied for about forty years. It is now used commercially following the huge canalside development visible in the background. When I first knew Beauchamp Lodge in the early 1970s, this was waste ground occupied by travellers, their families, and their pets. The building on the right won an award, I think around 1960, for the use of concrete in construction. The London taxi cab would have been aiming to go down the road alongside the concrete building, at the bottom of which was a taxi centre.

One evening, when I was leaving my building for home, a car came screeching round the roundabout, stopped, and reversed towards a following vehicle. Both cars came to a halt within inches of each other. I noticed that the car in front was occupied by two young men; the other by a lone young female driver. The driver of the leading vehicle left his car to remonstrate with the young lady. There was nothing for it but to get involved. I ambled across, with as much nonchalance as I could muster, advised the woman to close her window, – I ask you, she had to be advised to do that – and leant against the railings with my hands in my pockets. Just observing, you understand. The remonstrations became more vociferous, probably because the window was closed. The passenger then emerged and menaced me. Keeping my hands out of sight, I politely explained that I was simply a spectator.

It was only after the aggressors had sped off out of sight that I realised a taxi and a lorry had stopped on the roundabout. The drivers were both ready to get involved had it turned more nasty. Apparently the reversing driver had overtaken the young woman who had stuck one finger up to him out of her window. That, of course, is far more insulting than two.

Streets of London 4. 04 020

This evening’s final offering from the Streets of London is Preston Gardens, NW10, Neasden. This corner building changed its occupancy, its facade, and its usage on a regular basis during the ten years or so I passed it when visiting Norman. Each new wave of immigrants has imposed its own stamp. If I remember rightly, the Chinese Takeaway in Church Road is now a Somali taxi cab service.

Other series include various sets of prints for which I have not yet traced the negatives. I had planned to feature just one picture from each series. But I got rather carried away, and having spent most of the day on this, I don’t have the energy for going on to the reflective scanning, so I will close in the normal manner.

We dined on chicken Kiev roasted in the oven with peppers, onions, and mushrooms; green beans, leaks, and boiled potatoes. I finished the Madiran, and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

Streets Of London

Shadow, grass, gravel

Again, the early morning sun, casting shadows across the gravel to meet grasses on the other side of the path, worked it’s magic


on the peonies;


on new rambling red roses;


on rose tinted aquilegias;

Clematis Warsaw Nike

on the clematis Doctor Ruppel;

Geranium palmatum

on a somewhat nibbled geranium palmatum;

Bluebottle on frog's back

and warming the stone of a frog’s back on which a bluebottle hitched a ride.

I have mentioned before, my, as yet unpublished, Streets of London Series. From March 2004 until some time in 2008, I conducted this exercise, wandering around during breaks in my working day. The constraint I set myself was that the street signs should appear in the shots. There are many hundreds of these colour slides taken with my Olympus OM2, so I decided to embark upon scanning them. I entered the first dozen, from March to April 2004, today.

Streets of London001

From Hanover Gate, NW1 can be seen the burnished dome of Regent’s Park mosque.

Streets of London002

Warwick Place W9 stands on the corner of Warwick Avenue. The mind boggles at the van’s signage.

Streets of London003

The ubiquitous McDonald’s has an outlet on the corner of York Way N1. Perhaps Securitas is coming to collect the takings.

Streets of London004

A spindly young London Plane comes into leaf on Castellain Road W9.

Streets of London005

Maida Avenue W2 runs alongside the Little Venice stretch of the Regent’s Canal, forming a junction with Warwick Avenue which spans the bridge. The white building on our left is The Bridge House, featured in ‘Time To Go’.

Streets of London007

This corner of Gray’s Inn Road, WC1 stands diagonally opposite Kings Cross Station. The area is always clogged with traffic.

Streets of London011

The station itself stands on the corner of Euston Road and York Way, N1.

Streets of London008

The subject of the witty window cleaner sculpture in Chapel Street, NW1, scratches his head in contemplation of the task of cleaning Marks and Spencer’s glass fronted tower standing alongside Edgware Road Metropolitan Line station.

Streets of London009

From this corner of Warwick Avenue, W2, narrow boats on the Regent’s canal are visible through the railings.

Streets of London006

In Sardinia Street WC2, Angelo advertises his hairdressing, whilst thespians trip the tango.

Streets of London012

The eponymous Church Street Market runs from Edgware Road. At this far end it is joined by Penfold Street, NW8.

The sign for Gracedale Road, SW, is now many miles from Furzedown, so I have inserted it in a more appropriate post.

Margery and Paul popped in for a very welcome surprise visit, ‘to check up on’ me. This was, as usual, great fun. Paul put me right on the jackdaws I had recently incorrectly identified as hooded crows. I amended the post accordingly. Thanks, Paul.

Jackie returned home early this evening, and we dined on her superb chicken and egg jalfrezi with special fried rice. She drank Hoegaarden whist I opened another bottle of the Madiran and drank some of it.