Next Saturday afternoon I’ll be Walking the Elephant. It’s a public walk so anyone can join me for a couple of hours in one of London’s most derided neighbourhoods.
If all you know of the Elephant and Castle is a dodgy explanation of how it got its name, or the view of the roundabouts from the top deck of the 53 bus, this walk will surprise you. I promise.
My next local, public walk will be 2nd March around the Elephant and Castle. Reviled as one of the least attractive areas of London, the Elephant is far more than two roundabouts and a major traffic hub. Just yards from the busy roads you will find more than one surprising oasis of calm. And change has come to the Elephant. The old swimming baths have gone; the Mayor of London is considering granting permission for a tower block on the site of Eileen House, opposite the Ministry of Sound, which might well sound the death knell for this globally renowned club; local people are locked in debates about how they want their neighbourhood to develop. Meanwhile investors have woken up to the good communications and central location of the Elephant. Continue reading
If this piece of footage from 1969 makes your heart beat a little faster, you are probably of the same generation as me; children in the sixties, rather than of them.
I grew up on the Beatles music. We sang their songs in the playground, played at being the Beatles, though sometimes it had to be the Stones, as one girl, Wendy, was a fan. We danced to them in our sitting rooms, and bought packets of bubble gum so we could collect photocards of them. I remember a bus ride with my friend Sue back to her house to listen to the LP she had saved up to buy – Rubber Soul. They were in the firmament of my world along with the Brownies, learning my times tables, walking my dog and the Famous Five.
So going to the Savoy Theatre the other night to see a performance of Let It Be was somewhat surreal. The music and the performances brought back those childhood memories with a dislocating force. I say dislocating, because there I was, someone who has been comfortably in my prime for a number of years, trying to square the fact that I was sitting staidly in a theatre seat with all the emotional, sensory, stirring memories evoked; remembering so clearly what it felt like to be a child growing up in 60s Britain when London swung, and this was a foretaste how our lives were going to be.
It was like time travel. And for me, a lot more fun than Proust’s madeleine biscuit.
The show is an almost non-stop performance of songs, and to compound the time travel feeling, they span the whole decade when the Beatles dominated the charts, so you see and hear through the music how they grew up too, how their interests changed and diversified and the lyrics became increasingly sophisticated and often poetic. Continue reading
Well done to those who correctly identified the tower on the corner of Walworth Road and Macleod Street above Iceland. It was part of the Co-op many years ago. Congrats are in order for Pete and Father Andrew who left their answers here, Kieran who answered on twitter and HJ&I via email.
This tiem I hope I have found something that quite a few of you will know, without it being immediately obvious to everyone.
Leave your answers in the comments box.