Archive for the LONDON (JAUNTS) Category

Ghosts of the past – Walk This Way!

Posted in LONDON (JAUNTS) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 20, 2008 by echostains
St Pauls the indominable Dome

St Pauls the indominable Dome

No trip to London is complete without going on an organised walk (or two).  What better way is there to inbibe the history as well as getting good exercise?  According to the Walking guides, it is ‘The Jack The Ripper’ walks that are the most popular.  They can get up to 300 people at any one time: they need 3 guides for that!    We went on one a long time ago and have never forgotten it.  Those locations are still there and that’s part of the fascination I suppose; that ‘On this Spot’ etc.  Armed with the fact, theories and the tourist’s imagination, a vivid picture soon emerges.

Gaslit London

Gaslit London

Another walk we went on a while ago was ‘Bohemians and Bluestockings’.  This walk explored the lives of artists and writer that lived in Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia in the 1920s and beyond.  It was a very windy day and some building work was going on.  We staggered round with our hair on end and sand in our eyes.  You could spot the Boho’s in our group….  It was very interesting though.  Walk your own way….

http://www.oxforddnb.com/public/themes/63/63013.html

http://www.lonwalk.ndirect.co.uk/

Tower is now a private residence

 

 

 

This  trip  though we went on 2 walks; ‘The  Blitz’ and ‘Apparitions’ Alleyways and Ale’  .  Both were with Londonwalks: both were excellent.

The Blitz walk was with Helena.  This walk is centred around St Pauls and surrounding area.  The empathy and respect she has for her subject, not to mention the painstaking knowledge and research she has put into her presentation is admirable.  I’m not going to give a running commentary of where we walked , that would defeat the object.  Suffice to say that Helena’s facts and anecdotes bring the scenes of the London Blitz alive.  Her cut glass accent sometimes breaks into broad cockney to retell a particular anecdote, the contrast shows a keen sense of humour and also a bit of acting ability, trying to bring the scene alive for the walkers.

St Pauls War wounds

St Pauls War wounds

It was hard to believe that this area was a sea of fire  and that hundreds died, but the way that Helena relates it, makes it all so vibrant and real.  The pock marked shrapnel ridden fabric of St Pauls bear witness to the battering of London.  The fact that it is still standing acts as a metaphor to the courage of the British people: from the young soldier to the tin hatted old man.  It was ‘business as usual’ for London.  (St Pauls Tube exit 2 )

 ‘Apparitions, Alleyway’s and Ale’ is a walk led by Russell Richardson.  And what a great walk it is!  Alleyways aplenty there are and you even get to sample some ale halfway though the walk – and you will need it.  Not for the squeamish.  Russell is an excellent guide, who truely loves his work.  He keeps an open mind on the subject., though has had some very odd encounters whilst on this walk.  Again, I can’t give away all the stuff we learned or the route we took: suffice to say that if you go, you won’t be sorry.  One allyway we went down, which is reputably haunted, we took photos.  Imagine our surprise when we saw ORBS!  The figure in the black coat and boots is me by the way.

Orbs

 

 

 

 

http://www.paranormaldatabase.com/gallery/london.htm

http://www.walks.com/

A Bohemian at heart? or an Ass in Bohemia?

Posted in LONDON (JAUNTS) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2008 by echostains

French House pub and restaurant

Boho’s that we are (at heart) we were Pottering round Soho and popped into the French Bar, Dean Street. Packed out of course. The smokey atmosphere may be gone, thanks to the ban, but the pub still a kind of ‘aura’ lingering over it. This bar has a great history and some very interesting photo’s and art on the wall of bygone customers: all characters, nearly all dead.

The pub itself is lively enough though, full of all different ‘types’. Lol! Wonder what ‘type’ people would call us? (hence the title). Not keen on stereotyping myself: do not wish to join. However, one of the barmen was NOT very pleased about us taking pictures at all, he told us so in no uncertain terms-

‘Do you know, there are actors in here who don’t want to be recognised or photographed’ he said (in a very loud stage whisper lol!)

Actors who don’t want to be photographed or recognised! A novel concept eh …… The beggers should take their chances the same as everyone else! After all it’s a pub, not an exclusive club (like the Colony Rooms, which we tried to gatecrash once… and failed). You’d have to be EXTREMELY ‘recognised’ by the owner to get in there: disguises must NOT be worn

colony-rooms-soho

colony-rooms-soho

The offended man himself was sporting a large handle bar ginger moustache, glasses and curly hair: a cross between Mr Pastry and Billy Childish (and yes, we have got a pic of him, it would be rude of me to put it on this blog though.. … oh OK then, if you insist: it’s not like anyone is going to see it..)

mysterious-man-but-could-be-acting3

We did ask him if he WAS Billy, he said he wished he was. So did we. We like Billy, both as an artist (Stuckist) and a songwriter. In fact I must write about Childish later. But I digress as usual.

 

billy-childish3

http://www.billychildish.com/home.html

Earlier on we had gone to Fitzrovia. Now we ADORE Fitzrovia! I prefer it to Soho. All the interesting characters that used to hang round there. So many to write about, so many talented and interesting lives. Favorites include Bacon of course (got to write about the exhibition yet), John Deakin, FANTASTIC photographer and a well, not a nice character, but a character. John Minton, tragic artist. Nina Hamnett: artist in her own right and Queen of Bohemia, Jeffrey Bernard, the journalist.

nina_hamnett-1918-by-roger-fry

We went in the Wheatchief which was one of Dylan Thomas’s haunts, though you wouldn’t know it as they don’t exactly draw attention to the fact. I’m sure there used to be a plaque or something over the seats called ‘Poets Corner’ , but that’s gone now. Him and Caitlin had many a Ding Dong in this pub. But then they had rows any time, anywhere.

Back at the French House, before we were interupted by the barman, this is what we were trying to taking photos of.

past customers

Amongst all the memorabilia on the walls, I was rather quite taken with these. Now I don’t know if they are actual little watercolour sketches, pen and ink drawings or just pieces of wall paper, but I just LOVE them and had to snap em! I can recognise a few of the artists in the drawings/paintings.  And I am sure that a lot of them would be really pleased to be remembered…….. and recognised.

gone but not forgotten



 


 

Buy one; get another, then another until eventually you get the Sir John Soane’s Museum

Posted in LONDON (JAUNTS), Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2008 by echostains
Facade of Sir John Soane's museum London

Facade of Sir John Soane’s museum London

What a remarkable place!   What a remarkable man, son of a Bricklayer (b. 1753) Sir John Soane, Architect turned out to be!

 

A Rakes Progress The Rake taking possession of his estate 1734

A Rakes Progress The Rake taking possession of his estate 1734

There are also drawings, prints, furniture, clocks and of course books … the list is endless!  What a great time Soane must have had collecting them all.  He was continually building on and altering  his house in order to accommodate this collection.  The place must have been in a perpetual flux, forever changing.

 

 

 

Sir John Soane's Museum and Library

Sir John Soane’s Museum and Library

Soane wanted to preserve his collection to inform and educate students and amateurs.  He negotiated an Act of Parliament in 1833 to preserve his house and collection to benefit others.  This Act came into being when Soane died in 1837.  The public were encouraged to ‘consult, inspect and benefit’ from these collections and they do.

  Minimal changes have been made to the collections layout.  Each Curator has tried to maintain Soane’s wishes regarding Soane’s arrangements.

Amongst the truly impressive is the giant sarcophagus of Seti 1  c. 1370BC

 

John Soane Sarcophagus room in 1864

John Soane Sarcophagus room in 1864

 

 

and one my Favourite Goddess incarnations: Diana of Ephesus Turkey.

 

Diana of Ephesus

Diana of Ephesus

 I went to Ephesus in Turkey last year: an amazing place: like stepping back into biblical times.

 

Ephesus Turkey

Ephesus Turkey

 

 An exhibition of the Adam Brothers drawings of the Grand Tour (Rome).  These drawings are exquisite, showing meticulous draughtsmanship.  The exhibition runs until 14 February 2009.

 

Adam  brothers Grand  Tour

Adam brothers Grand Tour

The paintings, including the ‘Soane’s Hogarth’s’ read like a National Gallery Guidebook.  Turner, Canaletto, Reynolds, Fuseli, amongst many. 

 

John Soane's Dining Room with portrait

John Soane’s Dining Room with portrait

The actual atmosphere in the house is very tangent In some rooms, almost as if a past inhabitant has just left the room.  Perhaps life goes on as before and Sir John flits about stroking and arranging his collection when the house has been cleared of visitors and shut up for the night.  All those antique influences vibrating as one invisible breath, calling through time ‘Please Visit us!’

 

Danger – High Voltage! Flashy Electric Six meet Heavy Metal BeeGee tribute band Tragedy (but it isn’t!)

Posted in LONDON (JAUNTS) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 14, 2008 by echostains

 

Shepherds Bush Empire Theatre

Shepherds Bush Empire Theatr

Built in 1903 and sold to the BBC in 1953 for television shows like Hancock, Crackerjack, Old GreyWhistle Test and Wogan.

 

 

Shepherds Bush empire  The Gods

Shepherds Bush empire The Gods

 

 

Shepherds Bush Empire Theatre in the old days

We came in when the second band of the night were just about to come on; ‘Tragedy’: heavy metal tribute band to the BeeGees. We wondered what these were going to be like. Metal meets glam, well that was done in the 70’s with many bands. The Sweet springs to mind and everyone said the same thing ‘The B sides were HEAVY’ But metal meets BeeGees? How is this supposed to work? Should the two ever meet? Do we care? Well, I for one couldn’t tear my eyes away from the car crash! Absolute genius and very entertaining.

 

 

Tragedy BeeGees tribute band

Tragedy BeeGees tribute band

Most of the Beegee songs translated to metal, Staying Alive (on Acid presumably) high octane, fast and furious. But ‘You should be dancing’ (and you know you SHOULD’NT be…..but oh sod it…!) well one guitarist who looked like a very young Ozzy (Osbourne), and yes I do remember what a young Ozzy looked like all those years ago. I asked him if he really believed in Satan and Black Magic. That man clutched my 8 inch wooden cross and told me that THAT was the only TRUE thing to believe in!!! How responsible was that eh? I was most disappointed to be diverted from that dark pathway lol! This was a VERY long time ago and I thought I’d been transported back in time when I heard the Jurassic call of ‘Iron man’ that had somehow managed to embed itself into ‘Staying alive’ and a kind of Satanic invocation seemed to be going on. The girls (Women’s Gibb) provided good back up; some wore wings (angel wings). I believe their names are, Angelpussy, Olivia Newton-Chong and Linda Gibb. I am so glad I managed to see this band! They were really unusual, quirky and entertaining (good musicians in their own right too, I may add) and just the right mood appetiser for the Electric Six that followed.

 

For interview and film

 

We took quite a few pics at this concert, none that came out very clearly: probably  would have been better off using our mobiles, with hindsight.  The first thing that struck me about the Electric Six was how small Dick(Valentine) was!  I know the feeling mate;   I’ve had to live with being a Lilliputian from Liverpool!  This was Dick’s opening line by the way: ‘I’m from Liverpool’ I had to stand on a step, and even then I was surrounded by giants.  But I digress: that guy can REALLY sing, and sing he did: non stop.

 

 

Electric Six

Electric Six

 

 
 
'Flashy' album Electric Six

‘Flashy’ album Electric Six

 

 They did a few off ‘Flashy’ (‘Flashy man’, Formula 409’ and ‘When we were Witchy white Women’ that I can remember).  Oh, and ‘Dirty Ball’.  Amusingly, this was accompanied by a young crowd surfer who had started trying to reach the stage when ‘Tragedy’ was on.  He had been passed around the crowd like a bag of Werthers Originals and seemed to be bouncing higher and higher with less and less clothes on.   The lyrics  ‘Let the bouncing ball bounce you higher’ seemed to take on a whole different meaning as this lad’s leg appeared then his chest, then a bare arm!  With each new wave, one new limb flashed by.  This ‘Radiant Child’ must have had the time of his life!   That’s one concert he’ll always remember!
 The crowd absolutely erupted to ‘Gay Bar though.  I would have liked ‘Space commander’, but I got ‘Electric Demons in Love’, ‘Synthesizer’, ‘Improper dancing’ and by then, I was putting that dancing into improper practise, pint in one hand, jumping on and off a step (God it’s hard being small you know, whenever you get a great view, there’s always a GIANT in your way.  They just appear from nowhere IN YOUR WAY!!  I lost sight of the Radiant Child (who had been joined by another surfer at one point, but had since dropped out, the Radiant child having more stamina of course

 

Electric Six were GOOD, very polished in fact.  It is an absolute mystery to me why more people don’t like them.  ‘Gay Bar may have given them the prospective as one hit wonders (well two with Danger High Voltage).  But they are much more than these hits.  Their music really is eclectic and progressive.  It changes, depending on the line up.  It is never samey or predictable: can’t really be pinned down or categorised.  This is a GOOD thing too.

 

 

 

Radiant Child?

A good site about the radiant child

  Update:  Just remembered (4 days later I know..) They DID do Dance Commander!  Was one of their encores .

London belongs in the past…now

Posted in LONDON (JAUNTS) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 13, 2008 by echostains

 

London by gaslight

London by gaslight

Delayed train that went all round the houses.  Arrived home today cream crackered.  Well London DID belong to me for a couple of days.  Did what we set out to do; see the Francis Bacon exhibition, visit John Soan Museum, see Electric Six in concert at Sheherds Bush Empire and do a couple of walks (The Blitz and Apparitions, Allyways and Ale).  Heheh we do like to cram a lot into these little jaunts.  Can’t wait to write about it all, with pics.  Should keep me going for quite a while…..

London WILL belong to me!

Posted in LONDON (JAUNTS) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2008 by echostains

Bacon Triptych

Bacon Triptych

So excited to be going to London for a few days!  Not been for about 18 months so it will be good.  We’ll be seeing the Francis Bacon Exhibition at the Tate Britain so I will make some notes. 

 

 

 

 

Pope painting

Pope painting

 

Self Portrait

Self Portrait

 

 

 

 

 

 Also going to Shepherds Bush Empire to see the Electric Six.  Most people have only heard ‘Gay Bar’ and ‘High Voltage’, but they are far far better than those hits.  Their music is evolving and constantly changing all the time.

'Flashy' album cover Electric Six

'Flashy' album cover Electric Six