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.

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Baubles at Barbican station

Its a Monday 14th of December and term has finished. Three weeks of school holidays start here. I set off to Enfield Town station to try this route in to the Barbican. Enfield Trains are half hourly so it might not be good despite being direct. There are two trains in the platforms so I plump for the usual one. There is an air of promise now that the Overground has taken over the route. More trains and better trains. But not yet.

The journey is different and I’m noticing the unusual roofs of the shops that line the track. A woman is leaning out of the window to watch the train. I guess that passes for excitement around here.

I dash through the barriers at Liverpool Street and re-enter the  tube. This is quite liberating now as you don’t have to pay any more now that the Enfield line is part of the tube network. About time too.

On arrival at Barbican station, via a Met Line Train (I am being daring) I notice the trees on the dis-used platform are decorated for christmas with large baubles. Very festive. I’m reminded how this blog has seen the year round nearly. Perhaps I should plan an anniversary event.

The library is open longer today and I don’t feel in such a rush. Not that I have ever been here as it has closed. But somehow there is always the feeling that it might. A year on, I still feel this is the most remarkable library I have used in London. I started out coming to borrow the sheet music. I have discovered the London Collection and now borrow the audio books from the vast collection. All for free. Barbican Library is how all Libraries should be.

A plonk on a piano reminds me that the concert hall is just below. Only once, have I been here at the time of a concert. Maybe in the new year. Now a baby is screaming. It’s time to move around and look for some books for the Christmas holidays.

The Launderette is busy as I pass by. There’s a couple of old ladies sitting doing their word searches. A bid sign shows the Christmas opening times. A cage of men ascends noisily along some scaffolding and them promptly descends before ascending again. Someone must have forgotten something. Or pushed the wrong button.

 

At the Greengrocers, I buy one of those Christmas plants with the orange cherries. The assistant served me while the owner sat watching out the back. There is no one else there in the shop and I’m optimistic that my purchase might help keep them open. I head along the Clerkenwell Road. My plan for the new year is to explore out the other way. Although, thinking of it, there is plenty still to discover along here. I pass the solicitors I took shelter at last time and try to find a nemonic to help remember the name. It doesn’t work.

I fancy some soup but Prets doesn’t have any I like. So I decide to look for Eat which I am sure is along here somewhere.  3 branches of Prets later and Eat still hasn’t appeared. By Holborn, I end up in the Golden Arches again. In the new year, I am determined to try out a small independent cafe each time I come up rather than a chain.

I’ve arrived at Tottenham Court Road station and the Central Line is stopping here again. I decide to explore. It has been shut to central line passengers for about a year while they prepare the new station for the coming of Crossrail. It seems a long way down to the Central Line platforms. It’s very white. Looks like a job lot of Wickes Tiles. No more mosaics. And I’m only going to Liverpool Street today for the journey home.

I’m reflecting on the year and the blog. I have written a post each time I come to the Barbican. Mostly, it is written while I am out. I’m not sure that anyone reads it. But that was not the intention. I have written it for me. And I like to think I have got a little better at it as I go along.

Merry Christmas, and may your bauble glisten like the ones at Barbican Station.

A little bit of stress and the right time to eat.

Its been a stressful start to the day. I thought for a change I would use the line from Enfield Town to Liverpool street to get to the Barbican today. If you don’t know it, and there is no reason why you should, it’s an end end of the line type station with very few trains. Half hourly service for most of the day. I couldn’t find my jumper, I late leaving and the station is far enough away to make walking sound too much of an effort in the morning. The car was no help. It is impossible to find anywhere to park thanks to Enfield Town’s Residents Parking Only Scheme. So yes, I missed the train and not wanting to sit there for half an hour I drove to Woodford where my parents live and a train pulled in within a minute. Not to worry if it didn’t. They are usually every few minutes anyway.

I’ve zipped along the central line and now I’m waiting at Mile End. An announcement tells us that the board and announcements are not accurate and that we should check the front of the train. I’m in a dilemma now, not sure whether I should belive this announcement but sure enough, the Richmond Train on the board turns out to be my Hammersmith and City. How exciting.

I’m at Barbican station and the sun is out. Always the same on the first week I start back at school. I’ve been going to school for over 40 years now. I’ve got  a new bag to accompany me on this days out. My blue bag faded to nothing and was returned to John Lewis who provided me with a refund. I pull a zip that I’ve not found before and open up a new compartment with holders for pens and cards. Magic.

The Barbican is different today. There is a conference on and the door I usually go in to reach the Foyer is shut off. There are lots of very bored looking people with tags with their names on them popping out for a fag. The door I’m allowed in through take me right to the lifts and I ascend to the second floor with the air of someone who visits regularly; not someone who’s been sent on a course.

Even in the Library, things are different. Chairs are out in a corner and someone adjusts a projector screen to accommodate the image from their laptop. Maybe a talk? I’m siting right next to a sign saying that The use of mobile phones is strictly prohibited. We are all using them. But not to make a call. This sign is from the days when that’s all you could do, judging by the sign. Its taken me a while to realise but a new disabled lift has been put in to take customers from the Main Library down to the Music Library. For some reason it is reminding me of a Magicians Wardrobe where the assistant enters only to disappear.

I’m leaving the Barbican Centre and there is a change of mood. It’s lunch time for the conference and the delegates are coming outside into the sunshine clutching a boxed salad which looks quite nice. I walk out along the road checking everything is ok. The Launderette has a sign saying I can see the assistant to make arrangements! The greengrocer has different plants and a Bay Tree for £2.90 appeals but I don’t have any cash so it will have to wait for another time. When I pas the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, I peer through the window and see another Lunch set out on a table. Another conference and the delegates will be well feed. The leaders in Child Health know how to get up a good spread. I walk dow Leather Lane Market. The name has such promise but most of the stalls today are Street Food. There are long queues at each stall. I feel sorry for anyone local that wants to buy a nylon overall or a pair of fluffy slippers. Still, I guess you go with the public and street food is the in thing.

I’ve diverted off of my route and the Pleasant Lambs Passage takes me to Lion Square and I see the front of Conway Hall owned by the Conway Hall Ethical Society and opened in 1929. The cafe in Red Lion Square is doing good business. Everyone is eating and I do too.

Bloomsbury is overshadowed by the British Museum and as always there are plenty of tourists posing for selfies outside. There is a copy of the A and C Black Music Express book I teach with in school, in the Oxfam Book shop. This isn’t even a year old yet and the CD’s and DVD inside are unopened. They are selling it for £8. It costs £29 new. Some one will get a bargain if they see it. I should have bought it for a spare. I look in the window of Souvenir publishing which seems to be part book shop and part publishing house. It’s closed for lunch. A new Tea shop has opened called Tea and Tattle and it looks nice. A pot of Loose Tea was over £3 with cakes a similar price. Expensive but hopefully it will taste a little better than my Costa pot I’m drinking now. Boiling water is so important and it clearly was made with water off the boil.

I’m near the Brunswick centre. Two old ladies, one black, one white, both wrapped up for snow with headscarves are heading towards each other. The acknowledge each other with a slight nod of the head and walk on past. The troubles of the world on both their shoulders.

One girl is talking loudly about her eating habits.

“I only eat when I’m hungry. No Breakfast, Dinner, Tea. You know. When your Hungry?”

“Are you Hungry?” Said her friend with the desperate look of someone who would like a meal.

“I don’t know” said the girl. “My boyfriend goes mad. He likes his dinner at a set time.

Are you Hungry? We could get something.” Said her friend.

“I don’t know”

Sloe, Sloe, Quick Quick Sloe.

Its been a while readers and I have no excuse. Well i’ll make a few. Train strikes and poor weather and a week in the Lakes all seem to have made my visits less this summer rather than more. I’m starting out at the Elmhurst Gardens in Woodford looking for Sloes. Right at the Side of the North Circular near Charlie Browns you will find a large Blackthorn bush and the Sloes are excellent for flavouring Gin. I have company today. These trips ar usually solitary affairs. We notice that the Sloes are ripe and falling off so an evening picking session is on te card s when we return.

The central line is hot and the trains now look shabby. Ive eaten a Finger of Fudge and i’m now on some Hoola Hoops. That’s breakfast sorted. The weather is hot and sunny which is unusual for a London August of late. Stepping on to a Hammersmith and City train at mile end is like going from Hell to Heaven. The air conditioning is on and the trains are spacious. Admittedly they are not deep level tubes, but their modern open design is welcome.

imageComing to the Barbican is familiar now. I’m like a tour guide pointing out the sites to my companion for the day. We look at the residents allotments like the Seattle Pea patches and wonder at the cabbage growing there.Who’d have thought it.

The Barbican is really a town on its own and each time you turn a corner you discover a new part,

imageThe Library is quiet for a Saturday. I’ve never been in the morning as I’m usually at work. There seem to be more resident here and there is a familiarity between them and the staff. My companion discovers the Audio books that I’ve never seen. I enquire about the wall of books that you can borrow and I’m polietly told that they are free to borrow for the three weeks the same as books.

Free?” I ask again, as I can’t quite belive it.

“Yes” and you an renew them too.

She then shows me how I can also download audiobooks to my iPhone. The staff here are always helpful. I skirt round the section where someone is having a detailed discussion with themselves and reach the gardening section. An excellent book on Community Orchards that I’ve not seen before. So now I’ve chosen my books and I have the audio book of “Cabin Pressure” Series 3.

My Companion has vanish in the periodicals. Now that takes some doing.

A quick checkout and I’m leaving the centre via a different door. The church of St Giles opposite the terrace has always been like some magic island that some are allowed on and I’m not. Today I intend to get there. My companion finds a bridge which as it si named St Giles, I’m confident will take us there. We cross the Barbican’s answer to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and our only disappointment is tat the lovely Island Pods are for residents only to sit in. I live in hope a resident will see this blog and invite me over.

And then I’m there. The church of St Giles Cripplegate. And they’ve got a book sale. The Church, Tardis like, is large on the inside than it looks out. The display shows just how derelict this area was after the bombing of World War Two. The church, one of the few old remains of the area was nearly demolished by the bombing but the extensive damage was restored.

We leave the Barbican and head towards Clerkenwell. A man comes out of the Launderette. I’m glad its being useful. Past the Shakespear and my heart is in my mouth. I can’t find the Greengrocers. Surely it’s not gone. Then to my relief I see it is still there but closed. I don’t think it opens Saturdays. In the window is an apologetic sign from the owner telling us he his having a day’s holiday next friday. A long Bank holiday weekend. I want to send him off on a fortnights cruise somewhere but feel he might not come back.

We are walking along Clerkenwell Road and it is quiet. There are no queues out of the coffee shops and some haven’t opened. This is a weekday place. At the Italian church, a car with ribbons sits outside. The Bride has chosen a good day, and a lovey location. The villiage feel gives way to the large building of Holborn and we eventually end up in Waterstones at Gower Street. Even here, the usual bustle of students is missing, it being the holidays. A pot of tea and a Raspberry fancy and we are fit for anything.

The sun stays hot. Its a barbecue day and we head towards the Bruswick centre. Another of London’s secrets. And we’ve still got the Sloes to go back for.

Skateboards and the flying chips

I’m early today. Well earlier than normal. It’s the first day of my holidays when I could lie in. In stead, I woke early and was up and out. I’m in the Foyer at the Barbican centre. There’s a group of girls filming themselves whizzing up and down on a Skateboard. Right by the Coffee stall. No one’s batting an eye lid so I’m thinking they are part of some art installation. Theres the usual toddler race track and there screams seem to be for pleasure rather than pain from a Skateboard collision. There’s a huge screen in front of me the size of my kitchen and its showing coming events and the facilities here. I’ve decided to give the mother and baby screenings in the cinema a miss. The Martini Bar is more my style. There’s two of them tangoing in the skateboard now. Time to sup up and go.

It has been a month since my last visit. The combination of a week of very hot weather and being exhausted at the end of term put me off from visiting and I renewed my books online. The Library seems quiet today. I’m browsing the London Collection and have found an old book with curious things to find in different parts of London. I’m thinking I could visit the areas and see how many still survive. My holiday homework. I pick up other books about Curious London. I feel that I should be learning more to share with you readers. My Last book is about Acting Technique. I often get out a book to develop my skills for teaching Drama after the last performance of the year. It’s as I pick it ut that I remember that I have another show next Tuesday and that I haven’t quite broken up yet.

I’m out and walking a different way today. I’m heading for Liverpool Street following the signs for the Museum of London across the high walkways. It’s a good job there are signs. Theres a man walking close behind me so I stop to look at a basketball court that is tucked away below me. He walks past. The Museum of London is not too busy but there is a school group in the Lunch room, obviously filling the last days till the end of term. I follow the London wall and see remains down below me. It always amazes me how this part of London successfully takes pedestrians up and away from the London traffic. All around are reminds of the guild companies that had their headquarters around here. The Brewers hall has particular appeal. As I pass further down the road, a glass elevator rockets skywards packed with men in suits and I’m reminded of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

At Liverpool street station I see a sign pointing out the site of the first Bethlehem hospital. It is certainly “Bedlam” when I reach Mc Donalds. I enter the scrum and finally get a burger. There is no seating inside and outside is fairly full but I negotiate with a young couple and join them at their table. I don’t like to invade their space so I pull the chair back and eat the burger at arm’s length. I’ve hidden the chips in the bag away from the pigeons. A sudden gust of wind has lifted my lunch heaven wards and the chips are over the young couple. They laugh. That happened to us. They might have warned me.

From Liverpool Street, I’m heading over the road passed Petticoat Lane to Spitalfields. This has lost much of its charm since its rebuilding so I skirt through noticing an abundance of Vinyl Lp Stalls. I’m not sure if this a regular Friday thing. Fournier Street seems like a Film Set. I peer through a window and I’m surprised to see a modern kitchen. What did I expect? A Range? At the end of the road, The Mosque is in full swing and the doors are wide open. It is packed with loads of shoes at each entrance. I wonder how thy get the right pair back at the end. Perhaps they don’t.

Brick Lane is very different today. Quiet. There are tourists wondering why the markets aren’t open but they don’t on a weekday. Truman’s looks very sad. This huge London Brewery is now closed and used mainly for market stalls. Today, one part is being used as an indoor car park. I’ve read how the Truman’s name is being used by a smaller London Brewery now making quality ales. Nice as that is, It doesn’t make jobs for the people in the Spitalfields area. Someone pokes a large lens in my direction and I leave.

Doubling back to Spitalfields Market, I enter the Costa for a cup of tea and a tart. The couple next to me are arguing in a foreign language. I’m nosey but I don’t understand a word. Sitting here with my iPad to write this, I’m always amazed how easy it is to connect to the net now and upload things. I remember going to the Lake District and paying to use a computer in an Internet cafe to look for an important email. Now they pop in to my phone, signal permitting.

Commercial Street is always interesting. The large building that was the telephone exchange now houses a branch of Urban outfitter and another Costa Coffee, as well a very expensive flats. When I pass Garderners Paper bag shop, there are a couple of guys looking at a history book. I think he’s a minor celebrity since the Gentle Author visited and he’s probably showing his photo in the Spitalfields book. I’m heading for Shoreditch high street station. Recently opened on the London Overground, the line connects the  East London Line Track to the line that used to run from Broad street up to Dalston junction. The stations are new, replacing ones that closed years ago. The trains are proudly proclaiming on the front that they are made of five carriages. A change at Canonbury gets me to Startford. The trains are packed. Loads of people get off at Homerton and I wonder what I’m missing. Two young boys are arguing about food allergies.

“I haven’t got any” the first boy says.

” You must have. You have to have one” says the other.

A Rose, a Fuchsia and a Seed Cake

It’s the middle of June but you would be forgiven for thinking it is march. Yesterday’s warmth has given way to a chilly wind. I’m greeted as I leave the house by a white rose which has just come in to bloom. Three dead sticks arrived in April as a free gift from the news paper. It’s amazing to see how they have sprung to life. The were labelled as Red Rose, Pink Rose and White rose. Very descriptive. The blooms look as though they are true to their work.

imageAs I cross across the high walk, I notice some planters are being tended by an old man who appears to have vegetables and herbs as well as flowers. I’m guessing he lives locally and some of the planters have been given over, like mini allotments to the residents. The main planters look amazing and have a wild garden look about them There are not to many people in the foyer at The Barbican Centre today but those that are seem to be making lots of noise. Have I stumbled into a mother and toddlers club? I’m having a quick cup of tea. I have a fat Tonsil and it needs regular lubricating. The two girls serving behind the counter are discussing religion. One doesn’t seem to be understanding the other.

“What, they are a religion but they don’t do it?”

“Yeah, they just fake it”

Girls, that’s life.

I’m in the London Collection and I get a book all about the Cockney and their Dialect. I’m going to look a few things up and see if the saying “How’s your belly off for spots” can be attributed to my roots, or odd parents. I’m trying to find a book about Clerkenwell but the copy was not where it should be on the shelf. I feel I need to research the area for you readers.

The July magazine produced by the Library is out and I pick up my copy. Not many Libraries produce a monthly magazine like this. I’m checked out in person.  The Display at the Library entrance is of close-ups of flowers and I stop to browse before making my way to the lift. Talking of the Lifts, anyone who visits will know there are four lifts, two on one side two on the other. Which ever side you wait at, the lift comes to the other… Guaranteed.

imageI pass the laundrette and there is an older couple watching their washing. They don’t speak. There is a very informative poster on washing labels that I notice and make a note to learn  up. I get to the Barbican fruiterers and decide today is the day. I’m going in. I pick up this rather fine fuchsia for £1.80. If that’s not a bargain I don’t know what is. The owner, John, is serving and old lady with a push along trolley. That seems to have come out wrong. The Old Lady has the trolley, not John! He sorts her old three bananas of varying shades so they’ll be ripe at different times. They both know each other by name. Service. You don’t get that at your Tesco Local. He breaks off from serving her, to collect my £1.80 and another customer holds my fuchsia while I look for the money. I could do with a trolley like the old lady’s. For the first time I see students going in to the Italia Conti building. In fact there are several Lycra clad girls hanging out of a window. It’s like Fame with out the headbands.

 

I’m walking along the other side of the Clerkenwell Road and you would think I was somewhere completely different. Its funny how you miss imagethings because you are so close up. I don’t know why I am surprised but I find the Chapel of St Johns which is obviously where the road near by gets its name. At least if my Fat Tonsil flares up anymore, I’ll have the first aiders on hand. There’s a secret garden that will need further exploring. The Italian Church of St Peters reminds me that the area of Clerkenwell was very Italian and may explain the number of independent coffee shops. The church is also a very good example of something that showed up better from over the road. There is a rather ornate memorial in the porch and I can see the writing today as I’m close up. But its in Italian so I’m none the wiser.

In Holborn I was given a free Rustlers Hot Panini in a long life wrapper. As I take it, I throw it back at the girl who catches it like a rugby ball. We laugh and she gives it back. I always like something for free. I’m loading up. I’m hoping I don’t lose too many buds of this fuchsia. As If to call me a liar, it is now warming up with the sun making an appearance. I’d like to take this cardigan off but I’ve no hands. I pass the London County Council School of Art building and wonder what it is used for today. More research to do.

As I walk along Southampton Row, I see another Blue Plaque that proclaims, John Barbarolli lived here. Like my Auntie Hilda, he seems to have moved house many times but not gone far. There are several round near the Brunswick centre. We’re near Academia again and I pass a Chinese student who is carrying a note pad and papers tied up with string like a parcel with a bow on top. I’m not sure what weather he is expecting but they wont blow away in a gale. I smile, but at least he’ll know where they are. Unlike me when I need to find any important piece of paper.

I know, you are all wondering about the seed cake. I do pop in for a pot of tea, but no seed cake. I had a raspberry fondant fancy with a chocolate flake. I passed the shop where three weeks ago I bought a packet of Caraway seeds ready to make the seed cake. Time has passed and I still haven’t got around to it. This weekend is a must.

And talking of time, I’ve noticed it’s twenty five to four and like a modern-day Cinderella, I make a dash to Goodge street Station to tap in before the stroke of four. It’s a pound dearer to travel in the rush hour and that would buy another fuchsia……. almost.

Withdrawal Symptoms

I’m having withdrawal symptoms. I couldn’t go!

Last Friday would have been a trip to the Barbican day but I had to wait in for a Washing Machine and so that was that. You’ll be pleased to know its all installed and that I’ll be clean on my trips from now on. I know what you are thinking. Why not drop in a Bag Wash to the Barbican Laundrette? (or Laundry- ette as my East End family would say) After all, its soft water would ensure a lovely finish, even if drying times have been reduced due to climate change. It could have saved the price of the new Bosch, but its too much to carry on the tube. I’ll have to remain a spectator as I pass by.

So it will be this Friday that I visit. It’s the first time its gone three weeks before taking my books back. And for the first time, I had a music score that I’d borrowed before. I’ve been busy in the weeks so far. I’ve played through the Smike Score with the record. Its funny how the keys change depending on the singer I suppose. Fortunately, the Clavinova has a transpose button and a quick press means I can follow the music (which I do from time to time) and still be in tune with the record. The more I play the music, the more the memories come back from the St Edwards School performance. I’d love to be putting it on now.

I’ve also been doing some research and thinking of some other things to look out for on my travels so there will be plenty to look at in days to come. I’ve had some nice comments from several friends who have read the blog for the first time. And I’ve watched a view videos about WordPress that have made things clearer and hopefully will improve the look and layout of the site.

You can always help me further by commenting on what you read, asking questions and giving me suggestions for things to research and look out for. And of course, you can help by sharing the link to the site.

I’m reading up about Packing case Makers now. Maybe a change of career?