A Knight’s Tale (75: Trips Around The Neighbourhood)

Brass-rubbing was a feature of St James’s Church, Piccadilly in the 1970s. 

 This image was taken from https://www.ebth.com/items/8199847-1976-brass-rubbing-from-st-james-church-london.

I once took Matthew and Becky 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.

Trafalgar Square was another local attraction. In September 1976, Matthew attempted to scale one of the lions around the base of Nelson’s Column.

In December 1979 it was still permitted to feed the feral pigeons in the square. This is no longer possible. Matthew and Becky brought their own bread, although seed was sold in the square in those days.

We would often walk to the Jubilee Sports Hall in Covent Garden for them to have fun on the trampoline.  Seeking an activity for myself, I chose once more to pick up weights, with which I had trained in The Wimbledon YMCA gym during my twenties.  The hall’s availabilty as a sporting venue was under threat, and, as part of the campaign to preserve it, a Chinese photographer produced a superb set of large illustrations which lined the entrance staircase.  I featured in one, pushing up a bench press.  Michael’s friend Eddie, was playing football in another.  It was in this hall that I played my first game of Badminton.  An ungainly pit-a-pat performance.  I happened, rashly, to mention this to Carol Elstub, my deputy at the time.  She informed Ken Coleman, one of the Assistant Directors of Social Services.  Ken, she said, played Badminton.  She told Ken I played Badminton.  She flattered me.  A game was arranged.  Ken turned out to be a Middlesex County Coach.  Never mind, he taught me the game.  We played regularly for some years.  I would never beat him, but I did often manage to make him angry with himself.  Our games took place in Queen’s Park Jubilee Hall, a short walk from my office.  This particular venue is bound to be mentioned again.

When we lived in Soho, the old Covent Garden was ripe for speculators who moved in steadily to change what had become a daily craft market, where people sold their own work, into an outlet for more manufactured goods; and to convert some of the old buildings into classy shops and restaurants. It remains a thriving area, if lacking the old world charm of the ’70s and ’80s. Bustling cafes have open-air seating, and buskers,

like my guitarist, still perform to

enthralled crowds, such as those I pictured in September 1982. 

Three years earlier Matthew and Becky would scour the stalls for presents to take home with them.

Pandering to my penchant for visual puns my image of these home crafted slips was framed and hung on the wall of the dining room in Newark.

From Bespoke Suits To Thongs

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM. REPEAT IF REQUIRED.

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.

 

Who Is Lorna? Where Is She?

For those of you are new to this particular series, The Streets of London, are some 1,000 + colour slides of London which must contain the Street Name, and were all taken on walks through our capital.

Today I scanned another dozen, from May 2004.

Strand WC2 5.04

This statue of Queen Victoria stands outside the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand, WC2.

Milford Lane WC2 5.04

Milford Lane, WC2 runs from the other side of that road down towards the Embankment. On a Friday, in the Edinburgh Restaurant on this corner, you can fortify yourself with Pie and Mash after having secured a mortgage.

images

Popular in the capital since the 19th century, genuine eel, pie, and mash shops are now in short supply. Wikipedia describes the delicacy thus:

 ‘a minced beef and cold water pastry pie served with mashed potato. There should be two types of pastry used, the bottom or base should be suet pastry and the top short. It is common for the mashed potato to be spread around one side of the plate and for a type of parsley sauce to be present. This is commonly called eel liquor sauce or simply liquor(although it is non-alcoholic), traditionally made using the water kept from the preparation of the stewed eels. However, many shops no longer use stewed eel water in their parsley liquor. The sauce traditionally has a green colour, from the parsley. Sometimes a gravy is served instead (normally Oxo or Bisto).’

Trafalgar Square WC2

One of the many attractions in the famous Trafalgar Square W1, here seen at its junction with Pall Mall East, are pavement artists. Here one engages the attention of spectators and photographers alike.

South Street W1 5.04

Thomas Goode is an upmarket tableware shop in Mayfair’s South Street W1. in my view one of its finest treasures is the terra cotta panels decorating its facade.

Jackie has enlarged these panels and revealed that the one on the right is labelled ‘the potter’, and its companion depicts the pot being painted.

Green Street W1 5.04

More terra cotta tiling adorns the front of this building in Green Street W1, where a woman enjoys a snack, perhaps purchased from within. The foreground vehicle obscures her table.

Oxford Street W1 5.04

A common sight in the West End is a blanketed beggar with his dog. This one sits in a side street off Oxford Street W1.

Delamere Terrace W2 5.04

Continuing on to W2 we come to the elegant Delamere Terrace, alongside the canal of Little Venice. The narrow boats are sited on residential moorings. My counselling room stood on the opposite side of the water.

Chichester Road W2 5.04

Chichester Road W2 is a turning off Delamere Terrace. This block of flats displays the uses to which people put their balconies, and a collection of TV satellite dishes. You can’t even park outside your own home without feeding a meter.

Lord Hills Road W2 5.04

Further west along the canal lies Lord Hills Road W2. This bridge is one of the replacements that are gradually being constructed, replacing steps with winding approaches for wheelchair users.

Basing Street W11 5.04

Basing Street W11 takes us away from the City of Westminster to the neighbouring Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea. There was posted a message from someone desperately seeking Lorna. Now there’s a story.

St. Luke's Mews W11 5.04

Someone has decorated the walls of St Luke’s Mews W11 with a rather compelling mural.

Whilst drafting this post I watched Andy Murray’s thrilling Davis Cup tennis match with Kei Nishikori.

This Mother’s Day evening we dined with Becky and Ian at The Beach House in Milford on Sea. Given that this was a surprise and we weren’t feeling 100% I had to be a bit devious to explain why it was necessary to make ourselves presentable and go out. In the event we had a very enjoyable evening. My starter was fish cakes in a chili sauce; my main course a seafood platter; and my dessert Eton mess. I shared a bottle of montepulciano with Becky, whilst Jackie and Ian both drank Peroni.

 

 

By Appointment: Photographer To The Tourists

Just before midday Jackie delivered me to Southampton Parkway for the London train. Wandering along the car park, killing time because I was early,Car wheels reflected I contemplated car wheels, many of which were reflected in the numerous puddles. This reminded me of a recent conversation with Jackie’s brother-in-law Ron, in which he had informed me that no cars had been built with hub caps for many years. I had not noticed.
I got talking to a taxi driver who told me that the aluminium alloy wheels were made with a mixture of aluminium and rust. He didn’t know what the special properties of rust were, but said the reason we didn’t see that any more either was that scrap metal merchants collected it for the manufacture of this material.
Under Hungerford Bridge
From Waterloo, I walked across the modern version of the Hungerford Footbridge from Waterloo BridgeTrafagar Square fountainwhich there was a clear view of Waterloo Bridge and the skyline beyond, in which St. Paul’s still holds its own among the taller modern buildings.
Passing through Charing Cross Station and across The Strand, I skirted Trafalgar Square of which the fountains sparkled splendidly in the sunshine. I took the pathway by the left of Wardour Stthe National Gallery to Leicester Square and carried on up Wardour Street which sported vibrant decorations, no doubt in readiness for the Chinese New Year at the end of this month.
At the entrance to Gerrard Street a tourist couple asked me to take their photograph with the gentleman’s mobile phone. As usual in these situations, I asked if I could capture them on my camera. Couple in Gerrard StThey were happy to oblige.
From Shaftesbury Avenue I proceeded to Piccadilly where I shopped in Waterstones and the market in St James’s Churchyard.
I continued to Green Park intending to travel the one stop to Victoria by tube to visit Carol. This was not possible. The Victoria line was closed because of flooding at the terminal station. I took the Piccadilly Line to South Kensington, and the District one to Victoria. Chaos prevailed as the crowds seeking alternative routes struggled to understand the several options open for various destinations given out on the public address system. I didn’t get a seat, but I did get to Carol’s. After my time with her I took my usual journey back to Southampton whence Jackie drove me home.
On the 507 bus a gentleman with a stentorian voice who was clad in a greatcoat and a candlewick bedspread provided us all with information about food; alternately expressed true sorrow and profound gratitude for what he had become; and spared a thought for elderly people with arthritis, which, thankfully he hadn’t come to yet. He staggered off the vehicle struggling with a huge, cumbersome, laundry bag. Most other passengers silently focussed on their electronic devices.
Back home, we dined on lamb curry and pilau rice, every bit as tasty as yesterday. I drank sparkling water.

Pick And Mix

Last night, as for some time now, we were entertained by a number of forest owl duets.  As I have usually written my post before the overture I have forgotten to mention it before.

Trafalgar Square 12.64

By no means my best photograph, today’s advent picture from December 1964 shows the timeless nature of the Trafalgar square Christmas scene.  A better, similar shot was taken the year before and could equally have been produced today.

Early this morning I read Voltaire’s little inconclusive parable ‘Histoire d’un bon Bramin’, which sees a conflict between reason and happiness.  The world-weary sage who has everything is not happy.  His poor and unintelligent neighbour finds life much more enjoyable.  I suppose the question is why?

Frost pattern on windscreenA little later I walked through Minstead and back by an unplanned route.  Beautiful frost patterns on the car windscreen were reminiscent of those on the winter’s morning bedroom windows of our childhood.

Sow and piglets

As I reached Seamans Corner, the fact that this was a morning for reminiscences was brought home to me by the rampant scampering accompanying excited snorts emanating from the green.  No doubt the Sowsow who had brought her litter to clear up the fallen fodder nestling between the shrubs, had decided it was time to give her udders a rest. The more sedate elderly punk sporting nose rings and an ear tag, remained slobbering and grunting in one spot.  The fine mud spats she was wearing suggested she may have been seeking this comparatively drier spot to dry off.  Her offspring, however, like Emily, Oliver and Alice in Newark’s Pick and Mix sweetshop of the nineties; or Matthew and Beccy brass rubbing in St James’s, Piccadilly a generation earlier, were all over the place at once.

For those fortunate enough not to have come across the Pick and Mix method of selecting sweets, an explanation is in order.  What this involved with Michael and Heidi’s three children was a walk from Lindum House to Newark Market Square. This should have taken just five minutes, but, by the time Oliver had walked along the whole length of the top of the very low Further Education College wall, it was more like half an hour.  Reaching the shop and opening its door was like opening the traps at the start of a greyhound race.  Not chasing a hare, but rather choosing from trays of sweets lying in all directions, the children did not maintain a straight line. I had to keep an eye on each of them.  Since I only have two eyes and there were three infants this was somewhat problematic.

A certain amount of restraint had to be exercised as they rapidly decanted various items of confectionary into the paper bags with which they had been issued.  In particular it was quite an effort to ensure that the scoops and tongs provided were used instead of fingers that had so recently been running along the wire fence above the college wall. And no doubt worse.  I think it was Oliver who broke the mould and took an age over his selection.  Strangely enough, because they were not permitted to start the business of consumption until they were back home, the return journey did take no longer than it should.

Ponies and fence on horizon

Car splashingI had intended this morning to progress to Football Green and walk the Bull Lane loop, however, not wearing wellies, my way was blocked by last year’s familiar lake lying across the road beyond the village shop.  I turned back and arrived at Bull Lane via the footpath opposite the Trusty.

Rounding a corner cottage, I heard a woman standing at her door cry crossly to an unseen creature below the level of the hedge: ‘Come on’.  I suspect it was a canine in trouble.  Looking up and seeing me she repeated the call, this time in a tone of endearment.  The dog, if that is what it was, clearly entered the house, for she closed the door, no doubt to administer a serious rebuke beyond my prying ears.  What a difference an audience makes.

I must be circumspect about the reason for our outings this afternoon, but we drove to Calmore Industrial Estate to collect a package, and from there to Hobbycraft in Hedge End.  I should perhaps not have been surprised that the Royal Mail Totton collection point should be at Calmore.  Royal Mail and Parcel Force vans both deliver packages posted to us.  As we were leaving to answer the summons of Royal Mail, a Parcel Force van drew up in our drive.  With rather less than hope, I checked with the driver that he was not destined for our flat.  He wasn’t and said that he was and he wasn’t part of Royal Mail who pay him.  Maybe the answer lies in the size of the parcel, but it beats me why one company’s deliveries have to be made by two separate ones, both apparently under the auspices of the first.

The package we were collecting had been ordered on line from America yet mailed from Hong Kong with what our postal business’s form claimed to be insufficient payment.  We were invited to stick the relevant denomination in postage stamps to a card and mail it to them, after which the item could be delivered.  The alternative was to go and collect it and pay over the counter.  That is the option we chose.

This evening we fed on fish and chips, mushy peas and pickled onions, with which I drank Carta Rosa gran reserva 2006.

‘If It’s Worth A Photograph……’

Regent Street lights001Today’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. Westminster BridgeHouses of Parliament and Westminster Bridge That which lingered over the Thames presented dreamy views of Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament.  London Eye, Westminster Bridge, Houses of ParliamentAn 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.

Bangles stall

The Christmas fair on South Bank flourished.  One of the stalls sold its own version of festive lighting. Christmas decorations stall Like Catherine wheels they spun, expanded, and contracted.  The timing of this photograph was a delicate matter of trial and error.

Blue CockerelCrossing 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’.

Pirate living statueOn 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 in a bubble Eros, presumably in preparation for the revelries to come, is now encased in a bubble.

Bagman

A bagman I had seen over the years in numerous parts of London adjusted his load after having effected bicycle repairs.

Fortnum & Mason WindowFortnum & Mason Window (1)

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.

A Gift From Norway

We drove early this morning to Ringwood for a bit more shopping, then went on to visit Helen and Bill in Poulner, after which we meandered around the northern forest villages seeking a particular photographic subject for a card idea that Jackie had.  We returned home along Roger Penny Way.

Leaves of plane tree

Tree LineOakThe plane trees around Ringwood car park are now mostly devoid of leaves, although many of the forest trees remain festooned with persistent clingers. Along Roger Penny Way, the rounded shapes of the oaks and beeches with their golden foliage are set off nicely by the pointed evergreen pines behind them.  The gnarled and arthritic limbs of the oaks are beginning to reveal themselves.

Ponies, cattle, and donkeys were all motionless soon after midday.  All these roamers seem to be growing winter coats.  The equine varieties stood stock still, whereas the bovines lay basking in the sunshine glinting on their variously coloured ear tags.Cattle basking

Helicopter trioHigh above the fields and chimney pots of Ibsley, a trio of helicopters, possibly military, glided silently across the skies.  As Jackie brought the car to a standstill alongside someone’s house, and I leapt out to photograph the airborne vehicles, I rather alarmed a woman who stood quizzically shielding her eyes.  I therefore felt obliged to explain what I was doing, by which time I had all but missed the shot.

Back in Minstead, where the horses of the Freshwater Stud were now wearing man made winter coats, we found the picture we had been looking for all along. Freshwater stud This afternoon I worked on the prints required.

Yesterday, the Christmas season officially opened in Central London with the switching on of the lights to the Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree.  Our annual gift from the people of Norway in recognition of Britain’s help during World War Two, the tree has been a feature of the capital since 1947.  This is how I, with my Kodak Retinette 1b, recorded the scene fifty years ago:

Trafalgar Square 12.63

The rows of people to the left of the picture are carol singers.  Different groups still perform nightly carols raising funds for various charities.

This evening we dined at The Family House Chinese restaurant in Totton, on the excellent buffet meal.  Although called a buffet this is rather different in that for £18 a head you do have all you can eat, but you actually select from a normal full menu , and are given all the time you need with breaks in between.  If you over-order and cannot eat it all you pay normal prices for the uneaten portions.  It seems to work rather well.  Once again we remarked on the friendliness of the atmosphere, with the staff seeming to be on very good terms with all the customers.  I always eat the decorative chillis and cucumber.  When taking our first set of empty plates away, the waiter, seeing that I hadn’t eaten the lemon slice, from which I had at least squeezed the juice, suggested he should put it on my bill (as an uneaten portion).  With our meal Jackie and I both drank T’sing Tao beer.

A Double Six

Our High Streets are dying.  Those in the smaller towns seem to have more Charity Shops than any other single outlet.  Even Bournemouth’s Castlepoint yesterday failed to produce a particular present about which I must, at the moment, be discreet, for fear of the intended recipient sussing.

Before Jackie drove me to Southampton Parkway for my London trip we therefore did some research on the Internet.  Carrying this information and my memory, I sought suitable shops once I arrived at Waterloo.  This involved walking the length of Lower Marsh; back to South Bank; across the Golden Jubilee Bridge to Charing Cross; along The Strand; and finally up St Martin’s Lane.  All to no avail.  Both the Lower Marsh and South Bank establishments were now Japanese restaurants, and the other two had become coffee shops. In the words of the song ‘Fings ain’t what they used to be’.  The Internet information had been posted in March, and I had seen the South Bank and Strand stores thriving within the last eighteen months.  Were I to reveal what I was looking for I imagine my readers would speculate that on-line shopping has done for these businesses.  I may let you know my quarry after 25th December.

Christmas Fair

Merry Go Round

Christmas Fair (1)On South Bank there was an extensive and thriving Christmas fair.

Charlie ChaplinOn 19th July I had seen Charlie Chaplin striding along to his performance venue.  Today, at his pitch, he was receiving significant gleefully embarrassed attention.

On the way to Charing Cross underground station to take the Bakerloo line to Baker Street where I changed to the Jubilee line for Neasden, I passed a crowded Trafalgar Square, in which the French seem to have acquired a stake.  Their emblem was in temporary residence on the otherwise empty plinth.

Trafalgar Square

Norman’s lunch consisted of tender, meaty, roast duck; red cabbage; carrots; and a tasty vegetable and potato bake with which we shared an excellent Italian red wine.  A latticed plum flan was to follow.

Afterwards I took the Jubilee line to Bond Street where I alighted for Oxford Street and the last throw of the dice in the game of ‘Find the Present’.  I threw a double six, so I won’t have to give up and buy it on line.

Oxford Street

I continued along Oxford Street, where it was snowing Christmas lights,to Oxford Circus to catch the Victoria line to Carol’s. Regent Street Regent Street was equally spectacular.

Later, I took my usual route back home from Rochester Row.  Jackie was, as always, on time to meet me at Southampton Parkway.

The Abdication

Photographing living sculptureJackie drove me to and from Southampton for my trip to London to visit first Norman, then Carol.

I chose the Golden Jubilee Bridge route to walk to Green Park.

The South Bank living sculpture I had photographed on 18th June had, as usual, caught the eye of another lens wielder.

Making my way to the bridge I became aware of how, from certain directions,  London’s modern Eye can dwarf the older structures that tourists come to picture.

London Eye masking parliament

Pigeons on Golden Jubilee BridgeOn one of the supports of the railway bridge a pair of pigeons, possibly having produced fertiliser for an optimistic maple that had taken root beside them, slumbered in apparent ignorance of the lumbering locomotives behind them.

Passing The Playhouse theatre at Charing Cross, I was treated to the strains of Spamalot’s ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’, being broadcast into the street. Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life That truly hilarious song from the Monty Python ‘Life of Brian’ film of 1979 could so easily have been blasphemous, but somehow managed to avoid it.

Nelson's columnPiperNear Trafalgar Square, where Admiral Lord Nelson keeps his single eye on an era he could not have dreamed of whilst saving the English nation at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, one of Westminster Bridge’s lone pipers had found a new pitch.

Empty plinth

The empty plinth, which periodically provides a temporary pedestal for pieces of modern sculpture, awaits its next tenant.

Dancer

A silent male dancer entertained the crowds beneath the National Gallery. They gave him quite a lot of breathing space.

Sightseeing tour queue

On Pall Mall vast throngs, some looking rather disgruntled, queued for what would perforce be a very leisurely sightseeing tour through London’s traffic.

In my Central London years I often shopped in Jermyn Street at sales time.  I am no longer tempted because I still wear shirts bought there up to three or four decades ago.  Hawes & CurtisIn addition to Cary Grant, Hawes & Curtis are featuring Edward VIII and Mrs. Simpson hoping to attract prospective customers to take advantage of  their large reductions.  In his brief tenure this playboy king provoked a constitutional crisis in 1936 by his determination to marry his twice divorced lover.  In that bygone age this was acceptable neither to the Church nor the State.  He therefore chose to abdicate and thrust his younger brother onto centre stage.  A reluctant and shy monarch, King George VI, despite a dreadful stutter, with his wife Elizabeth, saw us nobly through the war years and, in 1952, died young, making way for our current long-serving queen.  Colin Firth was awarded a well earned Oscar for his spellbinding performance in the 2010 film ‘The King’s Speech’ which follows King George’s struggles to find his voice.  One has to wonder how the shirt-makers chose their particular icons.

Green Park

In Green Park those who can still comfortably get down to ground level eschewed the deck chairs and sat on the grass.

For lunch, Norman served tender kleftiko, savoury rice, red cabbage and mixed vegetables followed by apricot flan.  In anticipation of my forthcoming birthday he provided a superb Primitivo di Manduria wine of 2010.

I took my usual transport to Carol’s and thence to Waterloo for the return journey.  On the train, with the back of my hand, I managed to slap a sleeping young woman beside me on the thigh.  As she dozed, the pen with which she had been writing rolled off the table.  I used my marvellous reflexes in an attempt to prevent it from falling to the floor between our seats.  The thigh got in the way, and the ballpoint disappeared into the dark recess, so I was forced to slip my arm down the gap to retrieve it.  My co-passenger woke up with a start and was very good about it.

Alex Schneideman

On another oppressively humid overcast day Jackie drove me to Southampton whence I had an uneventful journey to Waterloo. Golden Jubilee Bridge From there, along, it seemed, with the rest of the world, I walked across Golden Jubilee Bridge which runs parallel with an older railway one;Golden Jubilee Bridge and older railway one past Charing Cross; through Trafalgar Square; along Pall Mall; up Haymarket to Piccadilly Circus; along Oxford Street to Marble Arch; through to Bayswater Road, where the throng thinned a little; right into Leinster Terrace; then via Craven Hill Gardens and Porchester and Queensborough Terraces, weaved my way to the top end of Queensway; along Westbourne Grove, and finally into Sutherland Place.

A little early for my appointment to make the inventory of my belongings soon to be removed from number 29, I sat for a while in Shrewsbury Gardens at the end of the road, watching dogs crapping on the grass, and listening to gleeful children in the Catholic primary school playground alongside.

An American gentleman, seeking former residences of Marconi, on whom he was doing some research, sought St. Stephen’s Square.  Neither I nor a 67 year old woman who had lived in the area all her life, knew of this.  We came to the conclusion that it may have been bombed during the war, built over, and renamed.

Greenery figuresA couple more greenery figures (see post of 5th June) are chatting over their garden fence in front of the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank.

Trafalgar Square fountainNational Gallery stepsThe coping surrounding the fountains in Trafalgar Square and the steps of the National Gallery provided perches from the young of the globe. Trafalgar Square A boy on a rocking horse attempted to leap over one of the lions which Matthew had scaled with such trepidation in September 1976.  Matthew climbing lion, Tafalgar Square, 9.76(If you haven’t already twigged this, clicking on the images enlarges them.  This is sometimes necessary to see the detail of the pictures and possibly the points of my jokes.)

Turkey plea

A chalked plea for the people of Turkey was inscribed on some paving stones.

In Haymarket a group of portly businessmen tottered out of a wine bar promising each other e-mails in the morning.  It is to be hoped that at least one of them remembered.

As I walked down Regent Street I thought of Simon (see post of 10th June) who had sought a memento of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and speculated that he would have liked the pennants strung across the road.  I ignored the ‘crossing not in use sign’.Regent Street

Returning my smile, a young woman in Oxford Street distributing leaflets advertising a waxing service refrained from offering me one.

Halepi restaurant

The Halepi and Zorbas (no apostrophe) restaurants featured in ‘Feng Shui’,  posted on 9th January, are situated in Leinster Terrace.

Zorbas restaurant Contrary to expectations, Zorbas seems still to be in business.

After the planning of the final move from Sutherland Place, I walked down to Notting Hill Gate, took the Central Line to Bond Street, and changed to the Jubilee Line which carried me back to Waterloo.  I read more of John S. Morrill’s ‘The Stuarts’ on the train, and Jackie drove me back home and fed me on chili con carne (recipe) with which I finished the Maipo merlot and she her Hoegaarden.

In 2009, whilst living in Sutherland Place and preparing the photographs for ‘The Magnificent Seven’ (see 7th April post), I realised I needed some training in how to get the best results from Photoshop.  The first tutor was one of those awful teachers who has to do it all for you, too speedily to follow, let alone make coherent notes.  He also messed up my scanner settings, making it impossible to scan anything at all without channeling it through Photoshop.  I could no longer save a picture in jpg format, and he didn’t know how to put it right.  I didn’t ask him back.

Wandering up Portobello Road one day I came across the stunning window display of a professional photographer which carried a card advertising Photoshop tuition.  If the man could produce the images on show he probably had something to teach me.  I rang the number on the card, and the photographer soon visited me at home.  He was a completely different kettle of fish.  A sensitive and artistic young man, he had all the patience needed to guide me through the processes and enable me to take notes.  He never tried to pack too much into a session.  This was Alex Schneideman who has since become a good friend and incidentally told me how to start a blog on WordPress.

After the second of our three two hour tutorials Alex asked me if he could photograph me.  This he did in the sitting room of 29 Sutherland Place, and placed a set on his website.  He also made me a present of number 21 in the ‘through the ages’ series. Derrick 2010 Another was number 20, which I reproduce here, and which demonstrates the photographer’s skill in relaxing his subjects. The photograph on the windowsill is of Michael and Heidi on their wedding day. I don’t think my portraits still adorn the website, but for anyone interested in imaginative, intuitive, photography www.alexschneideman.net  is well worth a visit.  Or, better still, pop along to Portobello Road and meet the man himself and also view the beautiful second-hand illustrated books in which his equally engaging wife deals.