Book of the week

capital companion

The Capital Companion – Peter Gibson – Web & Bower

Thanks to David Watson again for passing on another good book about London. This one is sort of loosely related to the blue plaques of London and has the entries in alphabetical name/street order. There’s loads of stuff I’ve never heard of in here like did you know Hogarth was only 5 foot tall? A book to search out for in the library if you love London’s history, daft or serious. P

A double dragon in London

I’m mid-way through a brilliant 2 day Taiji Seminar in Brockley organised by Sifu Rose Oliver of the Double Dragon Alliance Cultural Centre from Shanghai.

Each year Rose comes over with a master from China (for the last 3 years it’s been the excellent Master Wang Ming Bo). The seminars suit all styles of Taiji and it doesn’t matter what level of experience you are at too. It’s very cheap compared to other seminars (2 days for £80!) and taught in a fun and relaxed atmosphere and there’s definitely no whacking on the backs of the legs with a hard cane like Masters used to do when the students didn’t get something right in those old Kung Fu movies! Master Wang Ming Bo will smile at you good-naturedly when he has you on the floor in a armlock after you’ve just been thinking “I’ve got him this time!” and you just can’t help smiling back!

It’s probably a bit late now (unless you catch todays seminar: Sunday 30th June from 3-9pm at 50 Honor Oak Community Centre, Turnham Rd, London. Tel: 020 7639 2309) but something to keep in mind for next year if you’re at all interested in Taiji. P

Mother nature’s son

Nature in the city

Nature in the city

Do you ever yearn for just a little bit o’ peace in your lunchtime? A place where you can sit and not have a lot of other people yabbering into their mobile phones or incessantly chattering about Gary in accounts. This is the problem that came to me yesterday as I trundled around town. The St Vedast church, where I tend to roam if I’m in that sort of mood, had some note-bashing pianist practising away so I rolled on to the walled garden next door. Here, I found some very loud-voiced people. To cut a long story short, I ended up at the Barbican. Now this concrete behemoth wouldn’t seem like the right sort of place, but on closer inspection it’s pretty perfect. They have a library with plenty of nooks and crannies, weird open spaces with no-one around and a lovely water thing in the middle by the restaurant.

It looks peaceful, don't it?

It looks peaceful, don’t it?

When I was describing where I sat to Mrs. W last night, I said, “You know…by the lake”. To be fair, I was bigging it up as a lake, but it’s DEFINITELY more than a pond. Reservoir? Too grand. Water feature? Too gardeny – whatever it is, it’s perfect. The fountains drown out the sound of idle conversation, there are plenty of places to sit, including spots where you can dangle your feet over the water, Huckleberry Finn style, and there’s some nice wildlife to make you feel like you’re at one with nature.

So come along, but if you see a grumpy looking fellow in a maroon cardigan, don’t say hello. I won’t want to talk to you. W

PS. If the babbling brook and little duckies get you feeling like you want to get all Wickerman, there’s also quite a lovely exhibition of etchings, paintings and collages in the Barbican Library by Kit Boyd. It’s all about our relationship with our landscape and is absolutely free.

The yin and yang of London town

petes new teeth

We like to feature the better things in London town but what about the other side of the coin? A great site just rediscovered last night features all sort of crap in a well humorous way. Sh•tlondon has it all, crap shop signs, scary dolls, rubbish bargains, rubbish road signs and a whole lot more! The above is window dressing in a crap dentist stylee straight from their website, very apt considering I obtained a brand new set of false teeth the other week. Great stuff, crap but crap in the best way possible. The site also features a great review of that woman called Thatcher’s funeral. Great stuff, big up the sh•t side of our city! P

Love summer (even if the sun ain’t shining!)

Love charing cross rd

We may not have had much sunshine this week but it is summer and there’s a fair few things going on. As part of the Love Charing Cross Road Festival there’s some free events, one at Charing Cross Library on Sunday 23rd June that caught our eye, a talk called Brilliant Britain with Jane Peyton (from The School of Booze). Researched in the history of the sacred brew, Jane can tell you what Cleopatra or Jane Austin imbibed and is also the founder of Operalicious who arrange events where they serve food & drink which is themed according to what opera is featured which is also complemented by a professional opera singer. I reckon if that is anything to go by, this talk will be well worth attending!

Just around the corner on Wednesday 3rd July (just after 1pm) at the Crown Church of Scotland, Covent Garden there’s a bit of an mad one called “Latin American music for Oboe and Cello.”  As it’s says on their website: “guaranteed to get your toes tapping!” That’s got to be alright then!

Moody boy

And on a final note, on Wednesday night I passed a cheery guide giving a tour around Smithfields. Turns out she was from Most Curious Tours and was showing a couple of visitors The Golden Boy of Pye Corner on Cock Lane (they looked very happy too, laughing at the commentary and shouted to me “this tour is great!”).  It’s funny as the week previous I got a rebuff off a guide from another company (a bloke in a suit and tie in his 60’s) at the same location. When I asked could I eavesdrop just for a minute as I was interested in hearing about the golden (ball) boy, he replied “No, go away, this is a private tour!” Blimmin’ jobsworth! P

Are you going to Strawberry Fayre

Strawbs

Strawbs

On my way to buy a Father’s Day card, I spotted this free festival that’s on on the 20th June 2013. Admittedly it doesn’t happen in a lunch hour but free events are always good. If you don’t know Ely Place it’s a strange cul-de-sac just off High Holborn. It also houses a popular pub for LIYLH, the Old Mitre which, rare for these days, has it’s very own pub dog. W