On another oppressively humid overcast day Jackie drove me to Southampton whence I had an uneventful journey to Waterloo. From there, along, it seemed, with the rest of the world, I walked across Golden Jubilee Bridge which runs parallel with an older railway one; past Charing Cross; through Trafalgar Square; along Pall Mall; up Haymarket to Piccadilly Circus; along Oxford Street to Marble Arch; through to Bayswater Road, where the throng thinned a little; right into Leinster Terrace; then via Craven Hill Gardens and Porchester and Queensborough Terraces, weaved my way to the top end of Queensway; along Westbourne Grove, and finally into Sutherland Place.
A little early for my appointment to make the inventory of my belongings soon to be removed from number 29, I sat for a while in Shrewsbury Gardens at the end of the road, watching dogs crapping on the grass, and listening to gleeful children in the Catholic primary school playground alongside.
An American gentleman, seeking former residences of Marconi, on whom he was doing some research, sought St. Stephen’s Square. Neither I nor a 67 year old woman who had lived in the area all her life, knew of this. We came to the conclusion that it may have been bombed during the war, built over, and renamed.
A couple more greenery figures (see post of 5th June) are chatting over their garden fence in front of the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank.
The coping surrounding the fountains in Trafalgar Square and the steps of the National Gallery provided perches from the young of the globe. A boy on a rocking horse attempted to leap over one of the lions which Matthew had scaled with such trepidation in September 1976. (If you haven’t already twigged this, clicking on the images enlarges them. This is sometimes necessary to see the detail of the pictures and possibly the points of my jokes.)
A chalked plea for the people of Turkey was inscribed on some paving stones.
In Haymarket a group of portly businessmen tottered out of a wine bar promising each other e-mails in the morning. It is to be hoped that at least one of them remembered.
As I walked down Regent Street I thought of Simon (see post of 10th June) who had sought a memento of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and speculated that he would have liked the pennants strung across the road. I ignored the ‘crossing not in use sign’.
Returning my smile, a young woman in Oxford Street distributing leaflets advertising a waxing service refrained from offering me one.
The Halepi and Zorbas (no apostrophe) restaurants featured in ‘Feng Shui’, posted on 9th January, are situated in Leinster Terrace.
After the planning of the final move from Sutherland Place, I walked down to Notting Hill Gate, took the Central Line to Bond Street, and changed to the Jubilee Line which carried me back to Waterloo. I read more of John S. Morrill’s ‘The Stuarts’ on the train, and Jackie drove me back home and fed me on chili con carne (recipe) with which I finished the Maipo merlot and she her Hoegaarden.
In 2009, whilst living in Sutherland Place and preparing the photographs for ‘The Magnificent Seven’ (see 7th April post), I realised I needed some training in how to get the best results from Photoshop. The first tutor was one of those awful teachers who has to do it all for you, too speedily to follow, let alone make coherent notes. He also messed up my scanner settings, making it impossible to scan anything at all without channeling it through Photoshop. I could no longer save a picture in jpg format, and he didn’t know how to put it right. I didn’t ask him back.
Wandering up Portobello Road one day I came across the stunning window display of a professional photographer which carried a card advertising Photoshop tuition. If the man could produce the images on show he probably had something to teach me. I rang the number on the card, and the photographer soon visited me at home. He was a completely different kettle of fish. A sensitive and artistic young man, he had all the patience needed to guide me through the processes and enable me to take notes. He never tried to pack too much into a session. This was Alex Schneideman who has since become a good friend and incidentally told me how to start a blog on WordPress.
After the second of our three two hour tutorials Alex asked me if he could photograph me. This he did in the sitting room of 29 Sutherland Place, and placed a set on his website. He also made me a present of number 21 in the ‘through the ages’ series. Another was number 20, which I reproduce here, and which demonstrates the photographer’s skill in relaxing his subjects. The photograph on the windowsill is of Michael and Heidi on their wedding day. I don’t think my portraits still adorn the website, but for anyone interested in imaginative, intuitive, photography www.alexschneideman.net is well worth a visit. Or, better still, pop along to Portobello Road and meet the man himself and also view the beautiful second-hand illustrated books in which his equally engaging wife deals.