From Bespoke Suits To Thongs

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My rambles around London brought me into touch with a variety of different faces of England’s capital. None more contrasting perhaps than those seen in this batch from my Streets of London series of colour slides made in July 2005. Having been once more beset by wind and rain, I worked on these today.

Savile Row W1 7.05

We begin with a couple of most expensive streets in the region of Regent Street. Savile Row W1 is the home of bespoke tailoring, and not, perhaps, where one might expect to come across a chained bicycle of this nature.

Vigo Street/Burlington Gardens W1 7.05

Vigo Street which becomes Burlington Gardens is a turning off Regent Street. Careful viewers may see my portrait hanging in the window of Burlington Paintings. The motor cyclist is leaving Savile Row. Had he turned left and taken the first turning right, he could have ridden down

Sackville Street/Piccadilly W1

Sackville Street onto Piccadilly. The crypt of St James’s Church, the clock tower of which is seen here, was the scene of the brass-rubbing debacle featured in ‘Meandering Through Soho’.

Pall Mall East SW1 7.05

A month before these photographs were produced, London’s bid secured the 2012 Olympic Games. Banners celebrated this feat. From this corner of Pall Mall East we see Nelson’s column with its lions and the famous fountains. The gentleman in the foreground peruses The Financial Times, the first pink paper.

Spring Gardens/The Mall SW1 7.05

 The Mall itself offers another view of Trafalgar Square, incorporating its backdrop of The National Gallery. The bus advertising Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s ‘The Woman in White’ is looking ahead to the musical’s first performance on 15th September that year.

Concert Hall Approach SE1 7.05

The Archduke restaurant was a regular lunch venue for me and my dapper late friend, Wolf, at this time. Here he waves as I advance on Concert Hall Approach SE1.

Sturmer Way N7 7.05

We shift to north Islington and Sturmer Way N7. More comfortable than she appears, this lady willingly consented to pose beside her car. I did explain that I wanted to feature the street name in the picture.

Stock Orchard Street N7 7.05

Graffiti merchants have even left their mark on a satellite dish above the offices of William Hill’s betting shop in Stock Orchard Street N7.

Surr Street N7 7.05

Two more readers occupy a bench in the sunshine in Surr Street N7, in an area of development off North Street.

Formosa Street W9 7.05

Neither of these two nor this gentleman outside The Prince Albert pub in Formosa Street W9 appears to favour The Financial Times. This fine Grade 2 listed Victorian public house, built in 1856, still sports etched glass and mahogany fittings.

Honeywood Road NW10 7.05

The Willesden Junction Hotel stands on the corner of Station Road and Honeywood Road NW10. The pub closed soon after I took this photograph, and now seems to be functioning as a restaurant.

Curzon Crescent NW10 7.05

‘The L Word’ series ran from 2004-2009. This was concerned with the life and loves of a group of lesbians, their friends, and families, living in Los Angeles. As can be seen, its striking advertisement stole the limelight from the graffiti of Curzon Crescent NW10.

This evening we enjoyed our usual excellent dining experience at Lal Quilla. My main course was king prawn Ceylon; Jackie’s was chicken sag; we shared mushroom rice and an egg paratha, and both drank Kingfisher.

 

Ancient And Modern

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We spent most of the day with Becky and Ian at Emsworth.

Following a wander about the town, we lunched at The Greenhouse Café, then walked down South Street to the harbour, returning to Becky and Ian’s flat in North Street.

Tattoo Studio

Opposite the flat a new tattoo studio has recently opened. Its slogan perhaps reflects its targeted clientele. During the last decade or so this test of endurance has become all the rage.

M.R. Starr butcher & fishmonger, tandem cyclists and reflection

M.R.Starr butcher & fishmonger and bead curtain

edibleemsworth.co.uk describes M. R. Starr in the High Street as a high class butchers/fishmongers serving both the general public and local restaurants. The rear rider on this passing tandem seemed content with her apple. Note the bull woven into the bead curtain screening the front door.

H.H. Treagust and sons butchers

Further along the street stands another butcher’s whose website tells us that ‘H. H. Treagust & Sons is a family run butchers that has been trading for 90 years. It was founded by Harry Hurst Treagust in 1924 and is now owned by Richard (Great-grandson). Richard together with son Benjamin, wife Suzanne , cousin Raymond Treagust and John Pugh continue to maintain Treagust’s reputation of providing top quality goods and service.

To mark this 90th year on the High Street, son Benjamin has expanded the range of sausages available – HARRY’S Posh Pork Sausages “Flavours For All Seasons.”  So check out the blackboards for this weeks special!’

Mungo Brooks Emporium

Becky is often used as a consultant for charitable organisations setting up events material on line. One of her useful messages is the advice not to mix fonts. Perhaps those responsible for the recently new image of Mungo Brooks Emporium could have used her services.

Jackie, Derrick, & Ian in Mungo Brooks Emporium window

In this second picture Jackie has joined Ian and me in the reflections.

Public Library

Those readers capable of deciphering mirror writing will know that the public library is situated in Nile Street.

A Victorian Chapel to St Peter,

The Greenhouse Café 1The Greenhouse Café 2The Greenhouse Café 3

a cinema, and a theatre are all previous incarnations of the excellent Greenhouse Café where we enjoyed our lunch. It will come as no surprise that my choice was the all day big breakfast.

Dog in boot

Becky had asked a gentleman leading a rather large animal what it was. ‘It’s a dog’ he replied. This caused great hilarity. He wasn’t sure of the breed because it belonged to his sister. Becky identifies it as an American bulldog. A little later we observed it being stuffed in a boot.

The Coal Exchange

We walked past The Coal Exchange pub on the way down South Street to the harbour.

Bicycle bell

The tiles outside provided a tasteful backdrop to the brightly coloured bell attached to the bicycle leaning against the wall.

Flintstones Tearooms 1Flintstones Tearooms 2

At the bottom of the Flintstones Tea Rooms was doing very well;

Harbour 1Harbour 2

a small sailing vessel was being laid to rest against the harbour wall.

Eagle lectern St James's Church

We spent a short time in the Victorian St James’s church, with its splendid brass eagle lectern,

Stained Glass window St James's Church 1Stained Glass window St James's Church 2

its typical stained glass of the period,

Communion Table St James's Church

and its modern communion table.

Back at home this evening Jackie and I dined on pizza and salad.

Meandering Through Soho

Today I travelled by tube to Victoria for a trip around my ’70s home in Soho.  As I neared Morden station two community support police officers rushed past me towards the crowded forecourt.  I thought we were in for some excitement, but they simply wanted to board the 93 bus.

Buckingham Palace 10.12Leaving the underground at Victoria I walked along Buckingham Palace Road, passing the palace which was, as usual, surrounded by tourists hoping to get a glimpse of Her Majesty.  Crossing Pall Mall, I walked up Marlborovgh Road.  (There is no typo here, for the street sign is very old.)  Turning up St.James’s Street, I took a right into Jermyn Street, passing Floris, where I had entered a discussion about single mothers posted on 17th July.  It was near this establishment that once stood Astleys, pipe makers and tobacconists, where I used to shop.  My favourite ever Meerschaum was bought there.  The proprietor found it in a box in the basement where it had lain for twenty five years.  He sold it to me for the price on the original ticket.  Sadly, this was stolen long ago.  It had been made from a solid block, traditionally and beautifully carved.  The shop itself was one of the early victims of rising rents in this salubrious thoroughfare.

I walked around St. James’s church and bought a birthday present in Piccadilly Market in the grounds.  Brass-rubbing was a feature of this church in the 1970s.  I once took Matthew and Beccy there for the afternoon.  At £5, which was still quite a lot of money in those days, I thought this quite a reasonable outlay for an afternoon’s activity.  The two excited children rampaged around the crypt, gathering reams of large paper with a rub rub here, a rub rub there, everywhere a rub rub.  Eventually I got the bill.  It was £5 for each rubbing.  After a lengthy debate with the staff we came to a compromise.

From the church I continued along Piccadilly to one of the most famous landmarks in the world, which had been our local concourse.  In the mid 1960s I had run out of petrol bang opposite Eros.  This disaster was a little more manageable then than it would be now.

Along Shaftesbury Avenue I passed Queens Theatre, still showing ‘Les Miserables’ which had opened when we lived in Horse and Dolphin Yard.  The little waif who has adorned the facade all these years was taken from a marvellous Gustave Brion etching.  One of our neighbours in Newark had, when we first arrived in 1987, seen this production six times.  She went off with another man, so I don’t know if she is going there still.

On the corner of Macclesfield Street I contemplated the shop that had been the subject of my little white lie posted on 29th August.  Next door is De Hems which was our local pub where Michael was Space Invaders champion.  I would take a stein down from our flat opposite and have it filled with draft beer which I drank at home.  The circular window in the wall of No. 2 was to our wardrobe cupboard alongside our bedroom.

Horse and Dolphin Yard is entered beneath an extension of the corner building.  In the room above, Chinese men played Mah Jong whilst Michael and his friend Eddie played football in the yard.  The window to the room where the men played was usually open, and the clattering of the tiles went on all night.  We were quite used to it so it wasn’t a problem.  One day one of the boys kicked the ball through the window.  It came back slashed.  This rather upset me, so I marched round into Gerrard Street, steaming.  These buildings are veritable rabbit warrens, so I had to find the room.  I did this by entering an open door and wending my way up stairs and through dingy corridors full of rooms containing individual yale locks.  The clattering of tiles led me to my goal.  Football in hand I strode in.  The room was bare, with a few chairs against an unpapered wall.  In the centre was the games table which contained what seemed a great deal of currency notes piled up by the tiles.  It was surrounded by Chinese men who met my question ‘who did this?’ with determined silence.  After several repetitions and no alteration in the stony faces, I hurled the ball into the centre of the table scattering both money and tiles.  As I turned round and marched away, the hairs stood up on the back of my neck.  I realised I had probably been asking for trouble.  ‘Don’t turn round.  Don’t turn round’, I said to myself.  Miraculously I was unmolested, and Matthew and I have been able to dine out on the story ever since.

One of the buildings backing on to our yard is the New Loon Moon Supermarket, outside which we collected our Chinese boxes (see 14th September), and whose produce is now delivered in stout cardboard.

The Tokyo Diner at the corner of Newport Street now occupies the site of the laundrette featuring in the film in which I was upstaged by Michael and Piper (see post of 22nd. June).  From there I entered Charing Cross Road, made famous by Helene Hanff’s book, ’84 Charing Cross Road’.  Crossing Shaftsbury Avenue I turned left into Old Compton Street, right into Greek Street, and on to Soho Square Gardens where, seated on a bench, I spent a pleasant hour talking to Sammy, a very personable and amusing tall crane driver who was on one of the two two hour breaks he is allowed in his twelve hour shift.  It’s the cranes that are tall, not Sammy.

This man would sit for hours perched above the tallest buildings.  He pointed out the location on which he was working.  It was truly scary.  Previously he had worked on ‘The Shard’ which is clearly visible from Morden Civic Centre.  Every so often during our conversation, he would check his mobile device for the wind force, since he felt sure that it was blustery enough now for him to be ‘winded off’.  For safety reasons when the figure is above 50%, of what, I don’t know, he cannot work up there.  When it rose to 68% he got up to ‘show [his] face’, when he would be sent home, but still be paid.  He described his roost in the skies as ‘very peaceful’, and was most eloquent telling about having his head in blue sky looking down on a smooth layer of cloud like a river of milk in which he felt he could run his fingers.  I’ve seen this from a plane, but from a crane the mind boggles.  My newfound friend insisted on photographing me so I could show the world where I’d been.

As in many other parts of London a permanently fixed table tennis table has been installed.  This was directly opposite, and near enough to, our seat so that we were continually fielding missed balls.  In fact, Sammy, caught one in his.  The games seemed to be open to all challengers on the basis of ‘winner stays on’.  There were some very good players, the last one being quite exceptional.  He was rather pleased when I quipped, as I rose to leave, that he would be there all day.  I made my way back to Leicester Square station and took the tube back to Morden.

I had planned to cook a rogan josh this evening, marinated the meat, and done all the preparation, but PayPal did my head in.  I spent an hour and a half trying to get them to allow me into my account.  I have not used this for some years, since when they have introduced a new security system.  I had to display the name of my primary school and the colour and make of my first car.  They kept telling me my information was incorrect.  Well, I should know shouldn’t I?  And they’d never asked me that before.  Eventually I was timed out, but I could access them by telephone.  I took this option.  The number they gave me turned out to be an O2 number.  I gave up and we went to the China Garden in Morden.  The reason I wanted to use PayPal is because the free download space I am using to put photographs on my blog is running out.  If I don’t get this sorted you will see no more photographs.

An excellent Chinese meal helped me relax, as did the Chateau du Souzy beaujolais 2010 I drank with it.  Jackie drank Tsingtao beer.