Recently I was to attend an event at the Royal Institution, a lecture by James Burke on Connections (see his former work – James Burke Connections) and was heading down to London on the train when I spotted a tweet from James May announcing a book signing that day. Being almost the same age as him, I have found his TV programmes over the last few years really chiming with me. So, knowing that my friend I was seeing that evening was a fan, I though a book as a present would be a smart move.
And by effect I mean a degree of melancholy. It\’s not a bad thing, it just is. But it\’s because as soon as I hit the streets of the more historical areas of London it inevitably brings back memories. Memories of Pa explaining the sights, statues, buildings, history etc; and in later years either talking to Pa on the phone about a recent trip or calling him whilst in town, to find out something I\’d forgotten (the location of the London Stone comes to me mind see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Stone – I was within a 100 yards or so, but could not recall quite where it should be).
For a (right bloody (c) Peter Sellers) Yorkshireman, he knew a lot about London. He could have passed the knowledge test for taxi drivers I should think. He made a decent tour guide too (as long as you weren\’t a bloody tourist!).
So I walk these streets with memories, and echoes of times gone by.
And, it seems, almost inevitably, I end up in the very first pub Dad took me (and me alone). We\’d been shooting at the rifle club under Somerset House, and as usual I\’d \”whopped his ass\” with the pistol. Having finished we wanted to quench thirsts. We went to the Wellington on the corner of The Strand. I was under age, so had a soft drink (I think I declined the offer of alcohol as I was dry having got stupidly (stupid as in drinking in the evening without having eaten anything ALL DAY) drunk the previous Christmas at the Curry\’s Loughton staff do). We returned home to Essex by tube.
A few months later I returned with some school friends, having some time to kill before a demonstration of quadrophonic playback at the IEEE around the corner. This demo was especially good, as it feature Atom Heart Mother by Pink Floyd. \”I know a pub\” i declared – as if they would be hard to find 😉 Happy days!
A few decades later, and I\’m back again. It\’s hardly changed, except the prices and the cigarette smoke.
Gladstone was known affectionately by his supporters as \”The People\’s William\” or the \”G.O.M.\” (\”Grand Old Man\”, or, according to Disraeli, \”God\’s Only Mistake\”).
However after Gordon\’s death some reversed that to MOG \”Murderer of Gordon\”.
History \’O\’ Level studied 76-78 British and European Political and economic history 1815-1914. Ithankyou!
His name is here, on the Chindit memorial at the back of the MOD on the Embankment.
We got something right then.
Update 17/9/2011: here\’s his picture at Wikipedia: Photo of a hero
And the full article on him: His wiki page
But I cannot help but wonder if the empty clothes do so in a negative way.
Or maybe it\’s a recognition of the emptiness of the recognition to date.
Update: Later that day. As my Ma pointed out, the empty clothes signify the hanging up of the uniforms at the end of the work, a job well done, and life returning to normal (although that was a new normal, post war). Thanks Ma!
12-14 Leather Lane
You can see why….