The brotherhood of the leaky boot and other stories

This week a friend told me about a very melancholic piece of music by Gavin Bryars called “Jesus’ blood never failed me yet” which samples a homeless man singing taken from an outtake of a 1970’s film about men who lived rough around Waterloo Station. It’s a well crafted number but be warned it’s very poignant and not one to have on if you’re feeling a bit down or you’ll be in tears within seconds.

The song put me in mind of a scene from a film featuring James Mason touring the capital which has always stuck in my mind. He was interviewing some men living in a Salvation Army hostel and said to them (on the subject of prejudice against homeless people when trying to get employment) “you are simply, down on your luck”.

The film is the wonderful “The London Nobody Knows” from 1967 produced by Norman Cohen originally from a book of the same name by Geoffrey Fletcher circa 1962 (available from Amazon on paperback very cheaply here). It is a snapshot of London in times well gone by and starts with the heavy reverberated voice of music hall legend Marie Lloyd and James Mason’s footsteps in the then dilapidated Bedford Theatre, Camden Town now sadly gone.

Music-related locations like The Camden Catacombs (underneath Rehearsal Rehearsals where The Clash and Subway Sect would practice) are featured as well as The Roundhouse. There’s even public loo’s (“All men are equal in the eyes of a lavatory attendant” Mason quips) featuring one in Holborn which supposed once had goldfish in the cistern and the classic double doorway type urinal in Star Yard which we featured here.

It’s a lovely slice of life from back then and features street entertainers you don’t see anymore (the Yosser Hughes/Screaming Lord Sutch-like song and dance duo above and Johnny Eagle the strongman come escapologist below who had a regular pitch near the Tower of London so I’ve been told) alongside an array of sheepskin coat-clad characters. So grab yourself half a stout, have a butchers at this film and when it’s over you can rightly say “Gor blimey guv’nor they don’t make films that like anymore”. P

Clash from chaos

strummer

Until the 22nd September there’s an exhibition and pop up store (very punk I don’t think) celebrating the work of The Clash at 75 Berwick Street, Soho and it’s all for free!

Forget the constantly ringing cash-tills upstairs and head down to the basement for some punk nostalgia if you’re interested in that sort of stuff. There’s a couple of paint splattered boiler suits, posters and other Clash memorabilia on show. One of the great things tucked away down in the basement is a photo of a younger looking Keith Levene (he of Public Image Limited and Metal Box in dub fame) playing his geetar at an early gig, a couple of cassette tapes from Don Letts (possibly) with handmade covers and a smart 101’ers poster (The band Joe Strummer was in pre-Clash with one Richard Dudanski who went on to join Public Image Limited too).

Mick jones and keef

If you like this sort of rock history stuff head down. I’ve been, but passed on the Fender-sponsored master class to “practice some of the band’s famous licks”. What next, all the back catalogue remastered and played through Bowers and Wilkins Hi Fi system? Yeah, that’s there too! P