Today on my lunchtime jaunt to Waitrose in Bloomsbury to pick up some halloween novelties I spotted a mythical character not usually seen around these parts. The guy was in his mid 60’s, grey hair styled into a compact quiff and had on a nice pair of chunky crepes. The leather biker’s jacket he was wearing had a selection of iron cross patches on the back and he looked at me straight in the eye as if I was his enemy then he gave me a scowl. This was a genuine teddy boy/greaser hybrid that you’d once see in English seaside towns or driving buses in the Midlands in the 1970’s.
A bargain was bagged last week for the princely sum of £2.94 (including p+p off Amazon), it was a book by Geoffrey Fletcher which inspired the film “The London Nobody Knows” as featured in the last post. It’s a nice old book with illustrations by Fletcher (who was a graphic artist as well as a writer) and a preface written in 1989 where he mentions the changes in London since the original publication of 1962.
The book features lots of places that have long disappeared, language from a time gone by (some that now wouldn’t be politically correct) and some just plain daft: “Weird youths…stare listlessly into radio and jazz shops, youths with white-eyeleted shoes accompanied by their fun-molls. Each couple has horribly pointed shoes that make me think of elves; they twitch epileptically to the sound of jazz”. God knows what he’d say if he was still about today about London’s youth (and also the 50-odd year old punks wandering around New Cross with “Discharge” painted on the back of their “levver” jackets) but we love this book and it comes highly recommended!
If they were ever going to do a contemporary rewrite of the book and were looking for someone to do the illustrations we here at Liylh reckon they should be done by the artist Marc Gooderham (his “Elder Street, Spitalfields” above and Hawksmoor’s “Christchurch” below) as he uses decaying London as a major inspiration (examples of his London paintings here). As it says on his website about his work “Capturing the singular beauty to be found in those neglected buildings that have fallen into disrepair as the living city continues to evolve around them”. Fletcher would have liked that! By coincidence “The London Nobody Knows” was and is used by Marc as his bible and in his own words: “for drawing and sketching, looking for lost architectural delights… the book was a great discovery”. Have a look at more of Marc’s work here.
And finally while researching this post I found two episodes of a Radio 4 programme from 2011 where Dan Cruickshank revisits Geoffrey Fletcher’s old haunts in the first episode hereand in the second he visits his own quirky favourites here. One of them is the abandoned St Mary’s Underground Station in Whitechapelwhich is featured on this short BBC film here. The London nobody knows indeed! P
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve passed this strange sight a few times while walking through Clifford’s Inn from Fleet Street. It looks like one of those plastic boxes you bring your cat to the vet in but there’s no handle on the top and it’s very very large (you’ll never get this on the bus!) Any ideas? Is it the second home of the Black Dog of Newgate perhaps? Whatever it is, we at LIYLH would love to know! P
Walking past Holborn Station today I saw something that really stopped me in my tracks, a sand artist working on a sculpture of a relaxed hound. I had to ask the chap how long it took him (he said seven hours) and also took a photo of it as I was amazed at how good it was and I even parted with 50p!
As soon as I got back to work I couldn’t wait to show my workmates the great sculpture. One looked at the picture and said “That’s funny, it looks just like the dog that a guy sculpts in Chelmsford town centre at the weekend.” Another workmate piped up “That chap was doing the same thing at six o’clock last night outside the station and oddly enough at the same stage, just fiddling around with the dog’s nose with a small paint-brush.”
I’ve only looked on youtube tonight and noticed a few different sand sculptors working on a dog in a similar sort of pose. Please tell me it’s just co-incidental and sand artists love sculpting a hound lying like that.
I’d love to think that this was made through a bit of craftsmanship and not formed from some clever moveable mould. If it is a con, could I get my 50p back through trading and standards or a small claims court? P
There hasn’t been much to report in the lunchtime stakes this week as most of them have involved shopping in Sainsbury’s (and other establishments.)
Talking of which, this weekend I discovered a very mad youtube clip involving the spiritual entertainer Danny Shine (and Julian James the mind magician) at a branch of said supermarket that I’ve been known to frequent during a lunch hour. Why wasn’t this going on when I was there as it’s very bonkers indeed! All I can say is “Om.” P
Wandering through Lincoln’s Inn Fields this lunchtime I saw the ultimate in “in-park keep-fit.”
A personal trainer had only attached an elastic tightrope between two young trees ten foot apart and around three feet high off the ground. He was bouncing on and off it doing tricks in front of his client as the trees began to bend and creak. He twanged (not good english but a word that describes his action well) off the elastic from a sitting position onto the grass then jumped back on, landing on his feet. Bizarre!
I reckoned that the parkies would have thrown him out straight away but when I walked back an hour later he was still there. What would you call this latest Park keep-fit craze? “Bounce-ercise” or “Twang-ercise”, I really don’t know. Beats Rave-ercise anyday! P
On one of our lunchtime strolls last week, myself and W spotted the change of direction of the salubrious Chatterbox bar in Farringdon Road. It has gone from being just a “topless” bar to a “hostess” bar so it says above the door.
The best thing is, is that the sign’s been economically corrected. They only changed 3 letters thus saving them some signwriters fees into the bargain. Brilliant! P