Confident Builders London Uncategorized

A walk through London… from 1 James to another

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.

So I headed off to Leadenhall Market, bought the books, and joined the queue.  To be honest, this isn\’t the sort of thing I really do, but it fitted the mood.  But I decided that a sycophantic \”I really like your work\” conversatino was definitely not me, at the same time as realising that he would probably want to see and hear James Burke that evening.  So I asked James if, like me, he liked James Burke, an emphatic yes was the reply – so I told him about the lecture.  Much to James\’ annoyance he couldn\’t go that evening as there were book signing committments that evening, so I offered to take a signed book there instead for him.  Getting an extra copy, he made out a dedication and passed it to me – I then observed that this was a smart way to blag a free copy!  Grins, and then moved on.
Leaving the market I headed round the corner and found this example of old hidden amongst the new, something I like finding in London
Further on, have wondered back past Bank and the city, I entered Fleet Street, and stopped to admire (as always) the buildings that stood proud in the last century – proclaiming their owners and allegiances.  Never imagining that only a few decades later all that would gone and Fleet Street (named after a now lost underground river) would itself become just a shorthand term for the press, rather than its location
Another photographic thing I like is new reflecting old.  More clearly here: 
Further down Fleet Street, the Telegraph building – Peterborough Court 
As is often in old towns and cities, the ground floor fronts are all modern, horrible, glass \”buy buy buy\” places.  As Bill Bryson recommeds, look up 1 floor and admire the architecture.  Case in point below.
And yet another building prodly declaiming its publishing home. 
Towards the end of the street – the Royal Courts of Justice, reminiscent of Prague, and I\’m sure somewhere there\’s a sign saying \”Here be dragons\”!
Diving south off Fleet Street into the Temple area (past Dan Brown fans photographing the Templar Church – damn) a wonderfully quiet and peaceful square can be found.
Just around the corner, just off the Embankment another quiet location, you can enter the gardens in the summer months.
Then, leaving the Temple area a building that, here in London, is just one of many, but would probably get a bit of a mention elsewhere, surmounted by a rather impressive wind vane 

Now entering Savoy Gardens, a memorial to Lady Henry Somerset to commemorate her work for the Temperance cause, with an interesting quote \”I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink\” non-alcoholic I guess.
Passing under a bridge, these silhouette of both the buildings, London Eye, and the photographers caught my eye
And then, round hte corner, the place I first heard proper surround sound in the 70\’s.  The IEEE building where a school trip permitted us to hear Atom Heart Mother in Quadrophonic sound.
What I hadn\’t know then – this was the location of the BBC from 1923 to 1932 as commemorated by this plaque

Further on, a tablet marking the location of the North Bank of the River Thames, before the Victoria Embankment was built in 1862.

Then, as night closed in, I passed Liberty\’s with it\’s Christmas decorations on show, but more interesting to me was the ship wind vane on top.  Second one of the day!

And then finally, after a great meal with my old school friend Ed, we made our way to the Royal Institution, and James Burke\’s incredible throught provoking lecture 1+1=3, curated by Aleks Krotoski

And, of course, to hand over the book!
Dad London Uncategorized

I\’ve finally worked out why strolling the streets of London has this effect…

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 – 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.

London Uncategorized

Charles, Gordon of Khartoum.

Emotional father to Corporal Jones of Dad\’s Army. But also the reason Gladstone\’s affectionate moniker was reversed. He was known as GOM, here\’s Wikipedia\’s take:
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!

London Uncategorized

One of London\’s increasingly rare taxi driver shelters…

If you can persuade them (unlikely), you can get a great cuppa within.

London Uncategorized

Rifleman Tul Bahadur Pun V.C., Gurkha, Hero.

Sadly he died this April. But I didn\’t know, despite our somewhat poor treatment of the Gurkhas, that he was in fact already commemorated.

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

London Uncategorized

A leitmotif for our times

Parliamentary access behind bars…
London Uncategorized

I am much relieved to note Charlie Gilmour by his absence

London Uncategorized

It was late, but finally the women who served

On the domestic and military front in World War II were recognised.

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!

London Uncategorized

I see the Admiralty still has trouble getting Channel 5. #NotWorthTheEffort !

Coffee London Succeed Uncategorized

When near Holborn (Leather Lane to be precise)

One must not forget the Department of coffee and social affairs

12-14 Leather Lane

You can see why….