Drawing, Sci-fi and keeping cool

The Train ride is uneventful. Still no sign of new trains on the Enfield Overground. I see a notices around Barbican about the Clean air act and how walking along the high level walkway is better for my health. Its certainly more scenic. The planting looks lovely.

Its a glorious day. Glorious for being cooler. Normally I arrive at the Barbarian Library and have to dodge the rain. This week, London has been too hot. Up in the thirties. Lovely if you do not have to work. Today is fresher outside, although the Barbican centre is still warm. Windows are open into the offices allowing us to eavesdrop on theatrical discussions about upcoming productions.

I’m in a different department today. Art. I’ve decided to draw. I won’t tell you the result of my O level Art exam. Suffice it to say that I didn’t pass. But that was along time ago. I’ve bought the pencils and sketch pad. All I need now is some talent. As usual, the Barbican has an excellent selection of books and I’ve borrowed Learn To Draw Quickly by Sharon Finmark. Her book didn’t frighten me too much and I feel I could follow some of the examples. The thing I’ve learned the most is how important it is to look carefully at the thing you are drawing. Sounds obvious, but its amazing how much you watch your hand and the pencil rather than the thing you are drawing. Maybe one day, when I’m feeling brave enough, I’ll post some of the results on here.

There is an exhibition on in the Library about Science fiction with some fantastic artifacts on show. Books. Toys. Just another of the things I like about this Library. Someone seems interested. People want to pass on their knowledge and enthusiasm. Its still a Library about books. And that’s the reason. I travel up from Enfield just to borrow some books.

Its been a long time.

Well this is daring. I’ve logged in. You might not notice any difference, but this is not on my iPad as usual. I’m on the computers in the library. Logged in Free of charge. And you don’t even need to book. If only all libraries could be like this.

If you are wondering where I’ve been, the last two trips were to Shoe Lane. Sometimes I like to visit the subterranean world unlike no other Library I know. On my first visit, there was a talking book sale. I book several Audio book sets for a pound each including “The Boy with the Top Knot” by  Sathnam Sanghera. I had read this book when it was first written but have to say I enjoyed it even more being read to me.

The next time I visited Shoe Lane, It had been revamped. It was reminiscent of a Habitat store and I dozed on a Leather Sofa. I think the boilers had been refurbished two as it was unbearably hot. This only added to my belief that the lift had journeyed down to the centre of the earth.

My trip up here was uneventful.

There’s to be a new timetable on the Enfield Line, but don’t get excited. The day time trains are still only two an hour. And the ties haven’t changed.

I’ve just committed the worst sin. My mobile has just rung. Loudly. All week, it has rung silently (if that isn’t an oxymoron.) and last night I finally found out what i’d done and got it ringing loudly. And its on the default ring tone too.

Its my mum. Wanting flowers dropped in. There is a man who lived near her that has an identical car to mine. Sometimes she thinks I’ve parked near by and sneaked off somewhere.

Well I’m sneaking off now. There’s a man yawning very loudly near by and its catching.

A new year and a wardrobe.

I’ve wrestled with a wardrobe this morning before leaving the house. Its a long story. And the wardrop isn’t mine. But I’m worn out before we start. Its taken me ages to get up here since my last visit. Fridays get booked up and last Saturday, I got to the station ready for a quick saunter up to town, only to find I’d left me wallet at home. No card to tap in to the underground. But I’m here. Sitting at the table. Thinking what to write.

The journey up here is no different to normal really. Someone had dropped an Oyster card. The driver announced it over the tannoy. Thats as good as it get in Enfield Town. We’ve been known to get excited when the traffic lights change.

A school gets on and surrounds me. All are wearing High Viz jackets. On the back of one it says Infant school and yet the children are clearly upper juniors. They are well beahaved and discuss the primary and secondary colours in depth. A member of staff sits with them. She has “Staff” written on the back of her High Viz jacket. Just so we know.

Its a cold crisp morning but the sun is out. Bright. I’m well wrapped up.

When I arrive at the Library, everyone is getting about their business. Not sure what I was expecting. Some bunting saying “Welcome Paul, we havent seen you for a while” I check in on the self service as there is someone being served. Not sure I like that. Its good to talk. But I need the loo and thought we’d speed it up.

I’ve chosen a book. Subterranean City. It fascinates me to discover things about London that are out of the ordinary. There are rumours about a secret branch of the underground that pops into Buckingham Palace in case Her Majesty needs a quick get away.

Theres a man wil a long pole with a red cup on the end, walking between the shelves. I’m curious. Im pretending to look at the crime novels while I wait for him to go in to cation. Well, you’d want me to wouldn’t you?

He pokes it skywards. Towards a smoke sensor. What a job. Smoke sponsor tester. A modern day lamp lighter, or Knocker Up-er. You wouldn’t get this excitement in Enfield,

Im walking towards Clerkenwell. No one looks very energetic in the gym. No one’s doing a bag wash  The Greengrocer is selling Celeriac. Any everyone outside Italia Conti looks super slim.

I decide to wait for the 55. I’m on a mission to collect an order from Waterstones at Picadilly and it as along way. When the bus eventually comes, I sit facing backwards for a change. You cans ee where Ive been. I get to thinking that this time last year i thought I would explore the other way from the Barbican rather than follow the same path. It didn’t quite work like that.

I’m on the bus riding backwards next to a man with a nasty Cough. I want to get off.

A little attempt at some poetry there. Don’t say there’s no variety

After a long walk, I ask for some soup in The Waterstones Cafe. I’ve held in the urge to whistle in the Burlington Arcade and now need some sustenance. Soups off. So it’s an Apricot Danish. It’s gargantuan and well worth the money.

I like the Picadilly Waterstones. The building has its own personality and its greater than the company trading in it. I collect an order that I could easily have picked up in the Enfield branch and then make for home.

But first a diversion to Fopps. This record and DVD store is a favourite and always good for a bargain. I buy an album on vinyl for Graham and show it off on the way home. It’s become trendy. People look and nod approvingly. Im in.




A Queue, Rain and the 252

It’s the week before my birthday and I’m entering the last year of my forties. As if to make a statement, I get up early and walk to Trust Ford to book my car in for its MOT. perhaps I should have and MOT too. It’s usually quicker to walk but this morning there is less traffic and even the buses are running past me.  I arrive out of breath.

I get back home in time to gather my books and set off for the Barbican. It feels warmer than I expected. Not too bad for November. I arrive early for the train. My friend phoned as I was parking in a side street. Now, while I have twenty minutes to pass, I can’t get her on the line. Funny how we say that. On the line. I’m on my mobile. The train is quiet as we pull away. My friend phones. We chat. I’m conscious of others listening and try to get my lips closer to the mouthpiece; not that mobile has one. We are just getting to a good bit when Liverpool Street looms and the prospect of disappearing under tunnels cuts us off.

I buy a cup of tea and ascend the stairs to the High Walk. A well spoken bag lady shares her opinion of the stairs in some rather choice words. As I puff my way up, I’m tending to  agree with her. I sit down by a square pond avoiding a net and some wellingtons which have been left on a seat. It spits with rain. I revise my opinion of the weather with my friend who has phoned back. Tea break over, I make my way into the Library. I’m carrying Joan Littlewood biography which is so large you could go rafting on it.

The Library is quiet. I’m a little later and the Buggy Brigade has departed. I choose a few books on Mindfulness and detoxing. Then I stumble upon a book on Farce by Brian Rix. I was only a few months ago that Lord Rix died. My parents met him many years ago when the Revue group they ran went to one of his shows. Not only did they meet him, but he agreed to be the patron of the group and regularly sent messages of encouragement. I thought it time to read up a little more about his time in the theatre. Its while I’m by the ballet section I feel my phone buzz. Its Dad leaving a message to phone mum. Her mobile has no screen so she finds it hard to dial out. Yes, the stuff of farce. We speak in hushed tones in the theatre section as far from people as possible. She’s forgotten I’m on my trip out.

As I leave the centre, the weather has taken a turn for the worse. I’m in a cloth coat with no umbrella. I walk back around the centre following the covered walkways and end up at London Wall. I pass the remains of St Albans, Wood Street. This church tower in the middle of the road is all that is left after bombing in World War two. Apparently it is now a private house. Right opposite the Police Station.

The rain is making my coat smell of a wet dog. I find a bus stop in Cheapside and queue for a 252. There’s a lot of deciding who goes next to get on. The bus is full. I’ve not been on this route before. I’m hoping I’ll get to Tottenham Court Road. People are smugly walking past with umbrellas. How did they know it was going to rain when I didn’t. I’m using an app to follow my bus journey and its saying it will take 27 minutes to travel seven stops. I’m thinking that’s must be a mistake. The bus moves on in to High Holborn. then grinds to a halt. We inch our way in a queue of traffic until, eventually, the announcement comes that “This bus terminates here” We have arrived at St Giles which is as near to Tottenham Court Road as it get.

I get off and walk toward Cambridge Circus. The traffic is angry. Lots of hooting and frustration. It would be quicker to walk if the rain stopped. I enter McDonalds and exchange a voucher for a meal. Its worth complaining sometimes to get sent a voucher. I find a table and squeeze my way in between two other people. It’s very cosy. Just as I’m finishing a group of school girls get up to leave a nearby table. One girl has got her shoe stuck in the legs of the chair. She takes her shoe off so she can pull it out from the small gap she’s squeezed it in to.  Her friends are in Hysterics. I’m trying to not laugh but it’s not easy.

triangleWhen I get out, it is still raining lightly. Enough to soak you after a while. I spot this sign. It’s as though everyone is laughing at my lack of a brolly. Foyles had a soaking of its own recently when a burst water main flooded the store. It has a slightly damp smell when I enter today and the basement floor looks very clean. I browse the books but my heart is not in it. London looks drab today. You can see why Christmas was invented. We need a bit of “lights and glitter” to cheer the place up. I dash along Charing Cross Road, dicing with death across Oxford Street and into Tottenham Court Road. This has been spruced up lately and each time I’m here, something has changed. I do a quick shop in Sainsburys and then carry along.

At Goodge Street, and old lady passes me sporting the biggest pair of earphones I’ve ever seen. I thought they were earmuffs at first. She is carrying a cloth bag with Wigmore Hall written boldly across it. I’m imagining her to be listening to a Piano Sonata or Song without words rather than the latest rap. She certainly looks in a world of her own. I enter Waterstones in Torrington Place. Why I think this will inspire me more than Folyles I don’t know. I’m Cold and Wet. I pass a fourth oriental man wearing the same blue suede loafers without socks. It’s either a fashion statement that’s yet to come our way or someone has a job lot of the back of a lorry and they’re hawking them round Chinese restaurants.

I’m deciding I’ll get on the tube at Warren Street. I don’t walk along the top of Tottenham Court Road very often. I pass the Cost which has had a trendy makeover and now sells Hand Crafted food. Looks like the sandwiches are in a different box. It’s still full of students nursing the same cup of tea. Further along I pass Mantovani 1946. I’m thinking this might be where he came when he wasn’t playing his Violin. But sadly no. It looks like a franchise. On a corner, another building has been demolished. An NHS poster has a big face of a woman advertising the now building. Her eyes seem to follow and the look is as if to say “Look at that man who’d come out in a cloth coat and no umbrella”

Warren Street station is more Brash. I prefer Goodge Street where they play classical music as you wait for the lifts. Here you make you way down endless escalators. The rain is dripping from my fringe now. On the platform, I walk to the front of the train only to find the train coming from the other end and I’m at the back. My train takes me to Seven Sisters where I catch my Enfield Train home. Its been a day of wet and queues. I’ll be glad to get in.

Up and Down at the Barbican

Its been a long while. I’m not sure how many people read this and if they miss me. I know my number one fan is having a new kitchen so she’s been busy. I’ve no excuse. I wonder how other bloggers keep their momentum. I’ll look for a book on blogging!
I arrived from Enfield Town. As I passed Hackney Downs, two women comment on the new planters that have sprung up on the platform.
“I wonder if you can just pick things?”
“That cabbage is a bit small”
“You’d think they’d plant larger ones”
It’s like a discussion on an Abel and Cole Veg Box. They do look nice though. Flowers, herbs and cabbage all co-existing in wooden planters. I hope they come to Enfield Town.

I am at the Barbican and my head is muzzy. I buy a Tea in Eat. The woman serving is flirting with some business men. She skilfully extracts the location of their work. I wait a long time for my tea.
I take my tea up to the Barbican and phone a friend. Its chilly but the sun appears. We talk about kittens, work and life.
The Gardening volunteers are tending to the beds. There is a lot to do. I feel very guilty just sitting watching and feel I should be getting a hoe out and joining in.

As I pass the Shakespeare tower I notice people abseiling down both sides. You never know if it’s for charity, repairs or protest. Looking up makes me feel queasy so I look down.

In the Barbican library, Life continues as normal. The excellent Gerald Scarfe Exhibition is on in the Music Library. I went a few weeks ago with my Mum. Yes, she has joined me on my Friday Jolly. The exhibition had original designs for “Orpheus in the Underworld” from the mid 80’s. I went to see this production by ENO for my 18th Birthday. Very memorable.

I’ve observed things in this Library since we last spoke.

There was the time when three librarians are shouting instructions to a woman with a baby in a buggy in the disabled lift.
“You have to keep holding the button in”
The lady pushes the button. The lift descends by an Inch. She pushes the other She inches back up.
“No, hold the button in”
The librarians look at each other
She’s coming back up”
“Push it and hold it in”
This lift appears to have a dead mans handle.
Eventually, after much muttering, they manage to coax the lady to hold the button in and inch her way down.
I found it hilarious. The librarians didn’t
I had the feeling that, once at the bottom, she’d realise that the way out was actually back up the top.

I told Mum about this as I suggested she might like to avoid the steps and go in the lift.
“No, I’ll walk” she said.

I’m back on the serious side of choosing some book. I choose “The Rough Guide to Blogging” as I feel my efforts need a boost. An audio book about Lost Village Life for the car and a book about Old London.
There is an excellent art display of prints that I spend sometime looking at, wishing I had the skill to produce such work.
img_1920I leave the centre and head for my usual walk. So much for heading in a different direction. I pass the Launderette and marvel at its Soft Water Washes. I peer through the gym window and watch them pulling and up and down on the equipment. Several have given up and sit staring out of the window. That would be me – if I dared go in.

I pop in to The Barbican Fruiterers and buy another heather for my Mum.
“You’ll be in her good books” he says as I pay.

As I turn in to the Clerkenwell Road, my sister phones. She needs advice on school and how they are dealing with Terror Clowns. She reminds me how like my Nephew I am. As I proceed along the Clerkenwell Road, I am now on the look out for Clowns, Killer or otherwise. I look up and decide to keep looking up as I go. It’s a revelation. A past London is above our heads as modern fast food outlets dominate below. I dive in to a Prets for a bowl of chicken soup. Guaranteed to cue all ills. At the till, a girl in a Rabbit onesie is buying a sandwich. She looks more surreal than a clown.

My walk is taking through Bloomsbury to the Brunswick centre. I pop in to Holland and Barret’s for some pills. I come out with a bag of lentil Lemon and Chilli crisps. One of the children at school gave me one and they were rather nice.

img_1928I pass Cosmo Pottery and wish I’d bought a Clanger Tea service when I’d seen it in the window. There is a cafe in the church opposite. St Georges Holborn. I wouldn’t have known it was a church but I’m still looking up. The cafe looks nice. No knitted tea cosie and thick green crockery. I weave past and find my self in medical land. A woman walks past with red crutches. She knows they look unusual and is clearly showing them off.

The Brunswick centre is always unexpected, built as it is in the middle of a housing estate. Its underground cinema advertise opera and theatre live screencasts. Two guys play table tennis. Everyone eats. I end up in the Marchmont street Cost for a pot of tea. Its time to go home. These Fridays go all to quickly. I’ll leave you with a few pictures looking up above the shops in Clerkenwell, and a random one looking down!


Wine and Pop

Its been a while since my last post but not my last visit. Things had got a bit stressful and my visits were quick. The writing stopped flowing. Suffice it to say, I visited Shoe Lane several times and borrowed three Cd sets of Gervaise Phinn’s Little Village School series.

Now I’m back. I blagged myself a lift to Enfield Town station and caught the train with minutes to spare. This line is already improved with promise of more to come.

I’m on the Hammersmith and City to Farringdon as I wanted to visit Shoe Lane. I walk along Hatton Gardens. There are few people around. Mainly security guards. I arrive at Shoe Lane and descend down to the depths of the Earth. The Library is packed with children and their carers. A tea urn fills plastic cups and a lady jovially points out that all the biscuits have gone. The usual crowd of adults seem to be hiding out at far edges of the Library to get away from the noise. I’m still reminded of some strange subterranean world where people have been chosen to keep the species going like a Human Ark. I’m not sure what my duties would be if I stay.I leave bookless and I head for the Barbican. Smithfield is an assault course with the Crossrail work blocking roads and pavements. It’s a glorious spring day. There are red tulips standing out in the beds on the Barbican estate.

I’m in the Library and it seems I’ve gate crashed a party. There is a strong smell of wine and pop music on a CD player. It quite a mix of music. I like Ghost Town by the Specials. A group of adults are playing pin the name on the London Borough. I’ve walked through twice before I see the sign for the launch event for City Reads 2016.

I’m in the Music Library. Both Pianos are clacking away like Joseph Coopers dummy ones in Face the Music. I’m looking for Sleepy Shores by Jonny Pearson. This music was used in the early 70’s for a television series called Owen MD. As a child, I listened to it on an LP of television theme songs. This also featured Match of the Day, Bless this house and Crossroads. I search through the albums of TV hits and eventually find it. I’m always amazed by the range of music here at the Barbican. I tell the Librarian how pleased I am in finding it. She seems pleased too. I did look for a biography of Russ Conway or Mrs Mills. Now they could knock out a tune on the piano. No luck. I’m not sure if anyone wrote one.

Back at the party, things are getting going. There are welcomes and an introduction and people are being invited to read the set book.  “Ten Days”, by Gillian Slovo. A thriller. I’m watching from a distance. People are looking enthusiastic.

I check my books out myself. I didn’t like to disturb the revelry. I pick up my copy of the Barbican Library Magazine for April with Betty Boop on the cover. I’m always amazed by the depth of articles in this free magazine. Something else which stands the Barbican Library out from others. There is an exhibition of Art at the door and I am drawn to the black and white Lino-cut prints. It reminds me of the time when, on teaching practise at a Jewish school, the Rabbi’s daughter cut herself with a craft Knife while potato printing and ended up in A and E. Not the effect we were after.

As I exit, I sit a while outside on the Terrace watching the fountains, enjoying the warmth. I’m not in a rush today. The Launderette is still doing bag washes. The Greengrocer is still selling plants. I notice for the first time that the Gym has a running track around the outside of the equipment. Lone joggers run the circuit. I’m whisting Side Saddle and realising no-one knows who Russ Conway is now. I’m heading out for a fix at the Golden Arches. But thats for another time.

Veg box and a trip in the dark.

imageIt’s the 19th February. I’ve tried to be healthy since I last wrote. Not that writing this blog is particularly unhealthy. Nor my jaunts around London, unless you look closely at my trips to the Golden Arches. I’m signed up with Abel and Cole for a fruit and Veg box each week. This morning, I woke to the sound of my box being delivered to my front door. Chinese Leaf and a Papaya fruit will give me something to look up while I’m here.

The train ride from Enfield is uneventful. The couple of stops on the Met line too.

A young boy talks to his mum while he sucks on a lolly. She’s texting.

“Is it night now?” says the boy

“No, it’s morning” says the mum

“why is it getting dark?” says the boy

“We’re underground” says the mum.

He doesn’t look convinced. She doesn’t look up from her

I’m in the Library. It’s quiet. Very Quiet. I’m surprised since its half term. I’m sitting here just watching the world go by. No energy today. I’ve had a week off yet a cold that keeps coming back seems to have zapped the strength out of me. You can see why I need that Veg Box.