The possession of a bleep in London. Bishops Brothels.

For the last ten years of my working life I was either based in Marylebone or the City of London. On-site, On-call was a requirement of my job. Sometimes depending on the rota I was lucky enough to be on- call with people who would be travelling in from home. That gave me some freedom when there was no actual work to do. Depending on the type of on- call I could be out walking, with the bleep, and as long as I was either 15 or 30 minutes from work everything was hunky dory. In normal hospitals this time would be spent studying, reading, or watching TV but in the centre of two historic locations walking the urban environment was a bigger pull for me. Bankside and Tate Modern was well within the half hour walking time from the City. Bankside became a favourite late night walk. It felt very safe. Historically this was not always the case.

Bankside was as well known as Amsterdam for its red-light district in the 16th and 17th centuries. The area had been historically linked to the sex trade since the development of the Roman city. Slaves of both genders provided a full menu of erotic services to military men and sailors. The area was effectively legalised in the 12th century. The Bishop of Winchester was granted the responsibility for the area.

The Bishops of Winchester made themselves the surprising benefactors of immoral earnings. They granted licences to operate for the brothels and taxed the money earned. They lived well on this income.

Prostitutes here were known as Winchester Geese. Clients travelled to Bankside by boat or horse, a dangerous journey, not only urologically but also because the area was a general dumping area for criminals and chancers who were not welcome in the city. They would happily rob or murder a man whose mind was not fully on his own safety.

Despite the luxurious life that the Bishops court maintained, thanks to the business, the prostitutes were not welcome in consecrated ground when they inevitably died. Winchester Geese were buried, or dumped on unconsecrated ground not so far from their workplace.

During early works in the 1990’s for Crossrail or the Elizabeth Line as it has become known, a graveyard was discovered just off Redcross Way. Crossbones as it is known holds 15,000 skeletons , predominantly women , one third are foetuses or infants and some older children.
http://crossbones.org.uk/

The industrial wasteland at Redcross Way has become the focus of remembrance for the outcast dead. Vigils, performances and other acts of observance are regularly created here. The gates of the site are a shrine that has become a place of pilgrimage.It is likely that a permanent Garden of Remembrance will be created here. The property is owned by Transport for London . The first recorded mention was in 1598 and the last body interred in 1853.

Brixton East.

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Brixton East is a former furniture warehouse in Brixton. It was my favourite venue for art exhibitions. Sadly it is closed now but I’ve got some lovely photographs from previous exhibitions.

Brixton East was a beautifully designed multi use space. The owner had a flat cleverly located to the rear at first floor level.

It was a very trendy place , used for weddings, photoshoots and product launches, after parties for musicians playing at the nearby Brixton Academy.

It was a great location and venue, I loved it for the textures of the building.

In part the beauty of the building brought people in to exhibitions. Stewarding at this venue was always stimulating , the most intriguing people popped in to see the art and have a natter.

While fact checking for this blog I’ve discovered that it has reopened under a new name.

https://www.100barringtonroad.com/

Hugo learning to be an art critic.

A row of books.

Any row of books has potential.

A row of books that are beautiful, but fakes,  should be disappointing.

Tate Modern bought ‘British Library’ by Yinka Shonibare CBE in 2019.

The installation of 6,328 books is as much a space for contemplation as the Seagram Murals by Rothko in the same building .
https://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern/display/in-the-studio/mark-rothko

My response to Rothko is to be peaceful and calm. Shonibares work makes my head fizz. It’s not just the vivid, vibrant colours but the stark utilitarian librariness of it.

3 walls of a gallery are filled with bookshelves. All the books are brightly coloured, covered with Dutch Fabric, a mass produced batik style material from the Netherlands. On the spines in gold leaf are the names of first or second generation migrants to Britain who have made significant contributions to the culture or history of Britain. Some books have the names of people who have opposed migration, this negative group is balanced by the huge number of books that have no names on their spines representing the future when currently unknown migrants will boost and embellish British life in unimaginable ways.
https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/shonibare-the-british-library-t15250

Central to this exhibition is a website where migrants or their descendents can add their stories. These additions can be read on the website.

I took my small granddaughter, also a migrant, to this exhibition before she was one. Already a lover of colourful books I plan to take her regularly until she can add her story.
https://thebritishlibraryinstallation.com/about/

The Guardian ran an article about Yinka Shonibare last week.

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2020/jan/13/yinka-shonibare-london-nigeria-african-renaissance

Monty Python shining a light in North East Essex

The death today of Terry Jones, founder of Monty Python, has produced the most loving of remembrances. Eloquence was his trademark and was sadly the thing that his dementia robbed him of.

Monty Python is credited with being an icon of 1970’s pop culture and the beginning of new wave comedy.

In a quiet corner of rural North East Essex the effect of Python, on me, was profound.

My parents had no fears of its influence on their only child. Friends with less enlightened parents gathered in our house to watch it, teaching me to be more sociable.

Python accompanied me through the awkward early teenage years from 1969- 1974. 45 episodes of surreal comedy not only made me laugh but exposed me to the establishment that they were disrupting with their anti-establishment humour.

Not particularly one of their funniest sketches, this one sticks in my mind because I knew a Michael Ellis.
https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/1530529347579/monty-pythons-flying-circus-michael-ellis

Python learning continues long after those 5 years and 45 episodes.

Michael Palin takes me around the world

Terry Jones The Life of Brian and Mr Creosote, guaranteed laughter. Mediaeval history was also his thing, I dabbled.

Eric Idle, Spamalot a musical for people who don’t like musicals.

Graham Chapman, a medical student at Bart’s before he was a Python.

St Bartholomews Square from KGV building

Reason enough to choose a place to study.

John Cleese so much more than Fawlty Towers but Fawlty Towers changes the way anyone thinks of British seaside holidays.

Terry Gilliam, Time Bandits nothing more to be said.

RIP Terry Jones.

Dead? No excuse for laying off work.

Time Bandits

The River Effra, digressions and a memorial bench.

The River Effra plays a big part in my London life. Rising out of the ground near my home in Crystal Palace it has been constrained by engineers and now runs underground nearly all the way to Vauxhall Bridge where it emerges from a culvert to join the Thames.

Effra emerges and looks like a small lake in Belair Park, Dulwich, where Hugo and Lola love to walk. Then she sinks back underground.

I always think of Effra as a woman because Effra is a character name in Ben Arronovitchs series of books The Rivers of London.
Effra, the character, is the daughter of Mama Thames she has a BA in History of Art and is said to be very involved in UK Grime.

Just a little digression there.
Effra gives her name to.all kinds of things .

Effra Parade in Brixton

Effra Parade bus stop on the number 3 bus route.

More digression.

One of the most interesting bus routes in London. During a conversation this weekend someone said I loved riding buses because I’m a socialist. I’m not sure that’s entirely true. I love riding buses because the front seat at the top of a London bus is a joyous calabash of cultures, particularly suited to a nosey person. The front seat on a number 3 is sublime.

Effra Social.A bar and casual dining location with iconic status in Brixton. Previously the Conservative Club.

Effra Farm in the 1790’s roughly where Effra Road is.
The point, however of this blog is the lake in Belair Park where Effra takes in some daylight between underground journeys.
Belair Park has less memorial benches than many London parks but there is one in a very picturesque spot.As usual with memorial benches I’ve used what3words to locate it.Whoever Guy Robinson was his friends and family have chosen a lovely spot to position his bench.It is very close to a picture I took to manipulate into some lacy pictures.The last image is my favourite, it sums up the mystery of an underground river.

Surrealism and a small person Quickie #12

Explaining surrealism was not required on this occasion. This is a fine example of surrealism from Salvador Dali. The added surrealism of a landline phone, surely soon to be obsolete, intrigues me alongside a need for conformity which is illogical.

I’m bothered that it bothers me that the lobster has been put into the receiver by a left handed person. It troubles me more than the fact that it’s a Lobster which doesn’t trouble me at all.


https://colchesteroysterfishery.com/products/small-canadian-lobster

Tobacco Tin

This little tin has been in every home I’ve lived. I know it and its content very well and yet I know nothing about the original owner.

This was all my mum had kept of her first fiance.

He was killed in a motor bike accident in the early 1950’s.

She would never talk about him but the nature of his death caused both my parents to be certain that they didn’t want either their only child or their grandchildren to ride motorbikes.

His name was David and he may have lived in or around Braintree in Essex England, but equally he could have been stationed at any East Anglian Air field and be from anywhere.

His surname may have been De’Ath but that could also be wrong.

These are the artifacts from the tin.

Its a sad little collection, on the whole as a family we’ve avoided motorbikes.