I’ll Give You A Clue

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Today the sun slunk back behind the newly whitewashed ceiling from which occasional leaks did spring.

In July 2005 the weather was finer, so I took a trip back there in the form of scanning another dozen colour slides of the Streets of London series.

Sandwich Street WC1 7.05

Unless they’ve relocated to much grander property in Wisconsin, Double K’s Snack Bar in the aptly named Sandwich Street WC1 is probably no longer trading.

Havelock Street N1 7.05

The mural on this corner of the Lewis Carroll Library in Islington’s Havelock Street has not escaped the attentions of a graffiti spray can. Its premises in Copenhagen Street N1 currently appear to be rather more splendid. This is a popular educational resource for children and adults.

Freeling Street N1

A palette and bags of building materials in Freeling Street serve as a seat for a worker taking a break for refreshments and phone conversation.

Chapel Market/Penton Street N1 7.05

A typical London corner shop stands on this corner of Chapel Market and Penton Street.

At the close of the 18th century townhouses with rear gardens were built along what was then Chapel Street, when it formed the eastern boundary of the new suburb of Pentonville. A fire engine house was erected in 1792 and heightened in 1822; it survives today but in poor condition.

http://hidden-london.com/gazetteer/chapel-market/ gives us this information about the market:

‘The essayist Charles Lamb lived at two addresses in Chapel Street in the late 1790s.

To the annoyance of the well-heeled residents, costermongers began to sell their wares along the street during the 19th century and by the 1860s a fully-fledged and relatively reputable market was in operation. Official designation as a street market came in 1879.

Chapel Market in March 2014*

Three years later John James Sainsbury opened his first Islington store at 48 Chapel Street, managed for a while by his eldest son, John Benjamin. The venture was so successful that the Sainsburys opened three more shops in the street, including their first branch specialising in poultry and game.

By the 1890s Chapel Street had one of the two largest markets in the Clerkenwell and Islington areas, divided roughly equally between food and non-food stalls. Furniture, earthenware, second-hand clothing and drapery were among the most popular merchandise. The council renamed the street Chapel Market in 1936.

A few mainstream retailers and fast food outlets now occupy premises towards the eastern end of the street but for the most part this remains a traditional and unpretentious market, selling mainly household goods and food. It is open every day except Monday. Despite its continuing popularity, Chapel Market is vulnerable to a future change of use owing to the high value of land in Islington.’

The Victorian Royal Free Hospital began life as The London Fever Hospital. By the 1990s this redundant facility was redeveloped for varying types of residential accommodation. http://www.locallocalhistory.co.uk/islington/royalfree/ has much interesting history on this site, modern manifestations of which include

Old Royal Free Square N1 7.05

Old Royal Free Square N1

Southwood Smith Street N1 7.05

and Southwood Smith Street N1

Battishill Street N1 7.05

London’s feral pigeons are ubiquitous. Here a trio dice with death near a corner of Battishill Street.

Kember Street N1 7.05

I do hope the driver of this Urgent Courier in Kember Street had managed to deliver his package before his van was clamped.

Bernard Street WC1 7.05

The gentleman on the balcony in Bernard Street WC1 appears to have scaled great heights in search of a mobile phone signal.

Victoria Street SW1 7.05

Now, can you spot Louisa and Errol outside the Victoria Palace Theatre?

Victoria Street SW1 7.05

I’ll give you a clue. The woman in white conversing on her mobile stands beside them when the traffic crossing figure is green. It becomes red while she approaches me, still apparently engrossed in the screen.

Victoria Street SW1 7.05

These three shots were all taken from outside an Indian restaurant where the three of us had enjoyed a pre-theatre meal before seeing the show, aptly described on the board as ‘The Greatest British Musical I’ve Ever Seen’.

Once more, by late afternoon, the sun shone from a gently clouded blue sky.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb sausage casserole and mashed potato flecked with carrot. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank Barossa Valley Shiraz 2016.

Latin Gave Me Up

Although not having got round its baffle, the crow is back trampling the petunias on the chimney pot. The squirrel, on the other hand, earned a meal this morning. It made a successful launch from the eucalyptus, crash landed on top of the corvine baffle, slipped underneath it, and scoffed away. Given that the rodent has now rivalled Eddie the Eagle, Jackie moved the feeder further from the tree. The next lift-off point will doubtless be the new arch. Google can supply further information both on our aforementioned Olympic skier and yesterday’s Greg Rutherford reference.

We returned, briefly, to Castle Malwood Lodge this morning to retrieve two garden recliners we had left behind; and for a chat with Mo. Jackie then drove us to Ringwood where I deposited two pairs of shoes for repair; back home for lunch; then on to New Milton for me to catch the London train to visit Carol.

MeadowThe corner around our old flat is well stocked with self-seeded blooms from Jackie’s temporary garden; and the little meadow alongside New Milton station has an abundance of wild flowers.

Today I finished reading Cicero’s ‘Pro Roscio Amerino’ (For Roscius of Ameria). This is an eloquent and subtle defence of a man facing a trumped-up charge of parricide, and is significant for its being the young advocate’s first speech in a criminal court, and for his courage in taking on powerful political elements. No doubt aided by D.H.Berry’s able translation, the writing flows, and is very readable and entertaining.

It is to be inferred from my last sentence that I did not read this in the original, which would have been far beyond me. I am no Latin scholar, as was proven by my first three years at Wimbledon College. My Grammar school was then notable for its emphasis on the classics. Keen to obtain as many OxBridge university places as possible, Latin and Greek were the school’s most valued subjects, for in those 1950s days, a Latin qualification was a requirement for entry into our two leading centres of learning.

I was never subjected to Greek, and my Latin was so abysmal that, long before the O level stage, I was transferred to Geography, not then considered of prime importance.

Being top of the class in French, it was always a mystery to me that I could not grasp Latin. At school, I thought maybe it was because it seemed to be all about wars that didn’t particularly interest me. Not very many years ago, I twigged the reason for the imbalance. It was partially about word order, but more significantly about ignorance of grammatical terms. Without understanding these, I could manage the modern language, not that dissimilar in construction to our own. Meeting concepts like ‘subjunctive’ which were not considered needing explanation for passers of the eleven plus exam, I didn’t just swim, I sank.

Cicero OrationsLatin gave me up. And Geography teaching was hit and miss, so I failed that too.

So. In English. I went on to read ‘In Verrem 1’ (Against Verres). This was a necessarily short piece used as a device to circumvent the delaying tactics of the defence of a patently guilty man. It was so successful that Verres withdrew and further prepared speeches were not required.

Each of the Orations in my Folio Society edition is preceded by a helpful introduction by the translator. I began Berry’s piece on ‘The Catilinarian Conspiracy’.

From Waterloo I walked across Westminster Bridge to Carol’s in Rochester Row. South BankI have seen this route even more crowded than today, but it was still a struggle to reach and walk across the bridge and past the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.

At the junction of Great Smith Street and Victoria Street a woman struggled with a chain of keys that would have done credit to Dickens’s Jacob Marley from ‘A Christmas Carol’, to free her bicycle from its fixture on a set of railings.Woman unlocking bike Having succeeded, she dropped the cluster on the pavement and loaded her steed. Given her apparel and the content of her baskets, I wondered how she would manage to ride off. She didn’t. She donned her furry hat over the straw one, pushed the bike across the road, and continued down the street.

I took the 507 bus from Carol’s back to Waterloo and boarded the train to New Milton where my chauffeuse was waiting to drive me home; show me her planting and tidying of the garden; and feed me on fresh vegetables with beef casserole, the method of cooking of which is given in yesterday’s post. She drank Hoegaarden, and I abstained.

‘Good Haircut’

Yesterday I promised Richard a copy of the photograph of him shovelling shingle. I printed it A3+ size today, and am very pleased with it.

Jackie drove me to Southampton Parkway after lunch. I then took my usual route to Carol’s, involving a train to Waterloo and a walk across Westminster Bridge and down Victoria Street.

On the south side of the River Thames The London Dungeon drew its usual crowds. At the top of the entrance steps stands a barrow loaded with human corpses wrapped in sacking. London DungeonThe occasional hand escaping from its primitive body-bag no longer twitched, unlike those of a visitor anxious to venture inside to feast her eyes on further gruesome spectacles. Perhaps the dead bodies had once entered with rather more trepidation.

CloudsRainclouds gathered above Westminster Bridge and the silhouettes of some of the most photographed buildings in the world.

Pigeons lazingPigeons flyingFlocks of pigeons lazing and foraging in a now much reduced little green at the Victoria Street end of Broadway, suddenly disturbed, periodically took flight and arranged themselves on safe perches in the plane trees above.Pigeons perched

The green is Christchurch Gardens which has a history probably unknown to the millions passing by. There is no surviving evidence of either of the two chapels or the Church of Christ Church Broadway which have stood on the site at different times.

A chapel dedicated to St Mary Magdalene had occupied the area then known as Tothill Fields as early as the 13th century. By 1598, according to John Stowe, the building was ‘now wholly ruined’.

Christchurch GardensA new churchyard of St Margaret’s, known as The New Chapel was consecrated by the Dean of Westminster in December 1626. During the Commonwealth period it was used as a stable by Parliamentary soldiers and as avail for Scots prisoners captured at the Battle of Worcester. Twelve hundred of these prisoners were said to have died and been interred in the fields.

In the 19th century the New Chapel was demolished and replaced by Christ Church Broadway. Less than 100 years later, this in turn was destroyed by German incendiary bombs in the early morning of 17th April 1941.

Sadly, as in many London public spaces, this one now bears a sign telling you what you can’t do in them.

Suffragette memorialOn one corner is situated a tribute to those who suffered in the suffragette movement which fought for votes for women in the early twentieth century. The body of their leader, Emmeline Pankhurst, is buried in Brompton Cemetery. Her gravestone in the form of a celtic cross features in ‘The Magnificent Seven’.

After visiting Carol, I returned to Southampton where Jackie was waiting to drive me home.

St Thomas' HospitalNoticing my reflection in the window of the 507 bus to Waterloo as it passed St. Thomas’s Hospital, I was reminded of the keen observation skills of Jackie and Judith Munns in August 2012. I had posted a photograph of the Sigoules boulangerie on an afternoon following a morning visit to the hairdressers there. ‘Good haircut’, Jackie had texted from England. How, I wondered, had she known? The answer was that I was unwittingly reflected in the baker’s window.

LaptopsOn the return train journey, I amused my fellow travellers, most of whom were engrossed in laptops, by commenting that ‘when I commuted everyone read books’. ‘Times have changed’, was a young woman’s smiling reply.

When we arrived home we dined on superb sausage casserole (recipe); green beans; orange carrots; red cabbage with chillies; and yellow swede, potato, and onion mash.

Artificial Carnations

Beginning with Jackie driving me to Southampton Parkway Station, I took my usual route to Norman’s in Harlesden.  This time I walked further than Green Park Underground, crossing Piccadilly and, weaving in and out among the side streets, passing the heavily fortified American Embassy, to Oxford Street where I turned right to Bond Street tube station to pick up the journey as usual.  These streets are all so familiar to me from years of running and walking around them.

On the train to Waterloo I sat with a family of three.  They were very quiet, even when speaking to each other.  The middle-aged mother was reading and conversing with her grizzled husband in Arabic.  He sat calmly, occasionally speaking to the women, the second of whom was their young adult daughter.  Both women were working on the silent screens of their mobile phones.  When the wife passed her device to her husband I was intrigued to see that the script was Arabic.  I was silently reading ‘Wordsworth A Life’.  Soon after Peter arrived with his trolley this all changed.  The man offered to buy me something from the trolley.  I politely declined.  He gently insisted.  I explained I was going to have a Norman lunch.  Then he understood.

As the gentleman and his wife carefully tidied up their snack debris, I complimented them.  There then ensued a most amicable conversation.  I closed my book.  The father is a teacher of Education at Kuwait University.  Their home is in Kuwait.  The daughter is studying at Bournemouth University.  I forget what her current subject is, but she is considering changing to cultural studies.  She did a little bit of interpretation, but not much was required.  We spoke about language and about English mosques.  When I mentioned that we use Arabic numbers, they agreed, and added that they don’t use them themselves.  They use Indian numbers.  I didn’t know that.  Before parting Saleh Al – Rashid (Ph.D) presented me with his card; we exchanged e-mail addresses; and he took details of ‘Cryptic Crosswords and How to Solve Them’.  Mr. Al – Rashid had not been reading because he had forgotten his book.  I commiserated.  It is not much fun being without a book on a train journey.  The young Englishman next to me reading his Kindle on the return journey may not agree.

Children queuing for London Eye 2.13A bridge over the road links Waterloo Station with the South Bank area.   The London Eye stands on the Embankment.  Today strings of schoolchildren excitedly awaited their turns on the famous fairground ride.  From there onwards tourists abound. Photographers, Westminster Bridge 2.13 Cameras are everywhere, their owners either photographing the various symbols of London or their friends in front of them.  The Houses of Parliament and the London Eye are popular backdrops for portraits.  The subject emerging from a red telephone box is a favourite scene.  Since the posers all have mobile phones I doubt that they actually make calls from their props.

On Westminster Bridge the artificial carnation thrusters were in operation.  These women prey on unsuspecting visitors by fastening the buttonholes to their victims’ breasts and then asking for payment.  Seeing me with a camera in my hand they suspected I would be easy pickings.  I’m not.  I was caught once years ago, and returned the flower saying I didn’t want it if I had to pay for it when I hadn’t asked for it.  That was at Piccadilly Circus and earned me a certain amount of shocked abuse.  Today’s brandishers clearly hadn’t learned from our encounter a fortnight ago.  Neither then nor today would I allow the pin anywhere near me.

Caviar shop window-dressing 2.13Oysters were being laid out for the window display in Piccadilly’s Caviar shop.

Norman’s first course was literally fall-off-the-bone lamb shank, followed by crisp apple pie and custard accompanied by an excellent 2007 reserva rioja.

Then it was back to the underground for a trip to Carol’s, a short walk from Victoria Station.  For the forty years I have known it, Victoria Street has been the site of building or road works.  Major refurbishments to the underground station have been going on for at least five.  Lengthy barriers on the other side of the street have been caged off.  I was therefore amused to read a sign prohibiting crossing at that point.  One would have needed the stride of a Gargantua to have done so.Do not cross here 2.13

The very handy 507 bus virtually outside Carol’s home took me right into Waterloo station where I continued my journey as usual.  Jackie was waiting at Southampton when the train drew in on time.

Contrasts

Coffee this morning with a friend in SW1, followed by lunch with another in NW10.  I began with a walk to Colliers Wood, mostly through Morden Hall (National Trust) Park and Merton’s Wandle Trail.  The boundary between the two is a modern tramline.  The Wandle is one of London’s lost rivers; the trail being a stretch of wooded land alongside the water.

Most of the people in the congested High Street running through South London past Colliers Wood and on through Clapham must be oblivious of this pleasant walk.  I suffered such oblivion when, as a teenager in the 1950s I regularly walked from Raynes Park to Tooting to visit an art-house cinema. I had the 1/9d for admission, but not the extra few pence for bus fares.  Kevin Lydon, a schoolmate, thought this was pretentious.  When I think of how many unintelligible subtitled black and white films I sat through I’m sure he was probably right.

From Colliers Wood I travelled on the tube to Victoria and on to my friend’s flat in Rochester Row.  After coffee it was off to Harlesden for lunch.

Turning right out of Neasden tube station the contrast between the High Street there and Victoria Street, SW1 was marked.  The wind gusting up the hill on a less rain sodden day would have carried blinding and irritating dust from the commercial recycling depot at the bottom of the hill.  The pavements were so uneven as to be bearing pools of water which it was difficult to avoid.  The older, smaller, St. Mary’s Church with its graveyard seemed a world apart from Westminster Cathedral; and The Burren in Roundwood Road, a friendly Irish pub, humble in comparison with the grand Victorian pubs, such as the Windsor Castle in Francis Street, which are to be found in Victoria.

Victoria’s buildings are mostly enormous; commercial ones usually modern and with walls of glass, residential ones usually older stylish and elegant blocks of flats.  It’s all rather grand and overbearing.  The only large modern building in this part of NW10 is the Magistrate’s Court.  There are blocks of less opulent looking flats, but most dwellings are terraces of small family homes, the older, larger ones often converted into two flats.

Victoria Street is well populated by modern shops, including a large department store, and City Hall itself.  Church Road, the local shopping centre for my friend Norman, is full of small shops which have seen better days and which are constantly changing hands.  Many of these latter shops are run by immigrants, the latest of whom are from Somalia.  The Road has a strong sense of community and the shops are stacked with produce attractive to those who live there.

As a schoolboy I had to walk because I didn’t have the busfare.  As a pensioner I only walk when I want to. Thanks to the Freedom Pass I am able to travel free and freely using any form of transport in the 6 London Transport zones.  This includes overland railways.  It is a marvellous facility which really lives up to its name.