Saturday, December 31, 2011

Everything Must Go-Go

Having splashed-the-cash across several of the kids' favourite ridiculously priced 'boutiques' (can we still use that word) in a post-Christmas mood of who-the-hell-cares-anyway-just-buy-until-the-card-stops-working, I managed to prise the clan away from the SalesFest and plotted a meadering course between Covent Garden and Oxford Street which, surprise ! surprise ! took us past several 'interesting' Beatles Spots (as described in the Beatles' London Book). Perhaps recognising the need to keep the Keeper-of-the-Wallet in a good mood (at least as far as Oxford Street) even they (them, the kids' et al) joined in a little Beatle Fun as we posed with imaginary ice creams bought from the imaginary Kontact Cafe (no. 24 Wardoor Street) and stood outside 27 Wardour Street - the previous home of Garner's restaurant, a Beatles' favourite place. Then next door at no. 29 we gazed tp the second floor where Dezo Hoffmann had his studio. Then top floor at no. 31 where the Beatles had their shirts made...then a quick step to no. 33-37 where the Whisky-A-Gogo stood. Now a very boring O'Neill's themed nightmare of make believe junk. By now the brief 'high' achieved through purchases of £40 t-shirts knocked down to an amazing £37 was wearing off and Beatle Fun was draining away at an alarming rate. But then Oxford Street was within spending distance and off the clan rushed spurred on by dreams of ... whatever....

Annotations to follow
29 Wardour Street - Dezo Hoffmann's Studio on second floor

24 Wardour Street - Kontact Cafe

31 Wardour Street - Star Shirt Makers on top floor

31 Wardour Street - Star Shirt Makers on top floor

33-37 Wardour Street - Flamingo Club

Broadwick Street 'Gentlemans' Club - did not hang around too long

And I found Trident Studios !

Open for tours at 16:30 !

But I have 3 kids in tow ! I will return...

Perhaps I could leave them somewhere for a few hours ????

15 Poland Street - Tony Calder Enterprises

5-6 Argyll Street - Nems Enterprises

363-367 Oxford Street - HMV and now infamous Footlocker

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Gaulling - to say the least

On occasions, Herr Brilig gets summoned to places to explain this, that or the other. Ususally the venue is a souless, godless, grey and miserable office on a miserable industrial estate with miserable vending machines dispensing Mars Bars, oversized baps of yesteryear and miserable grey tea - very grey. An office down a side alley of a side street of a road whose sole rasion d'etre is to provide a place to stick a miserable set of offices off that alley, round the bend beyond the burger bar van. And yet life exists there - a career is is being crafted by numbers going up or dashed and destroyed by numbers heading south. Such is life. Ho hum ho hum ho hum ho hum ho hum ho hum ho hum ho hum ho hum.

But what of today ? Shock and awe ! I said shock and awe ! A really big number with a mega pound sign caused the spirits to roll their dice and send Brilig to offices so elevated that the pinstripe was dusted down and I even considered giving the brouges a brush (but didn't) The venue was an infinity office overlooking The Mall and indeed my powerpoint of graphs and numbers and pi charts and ridiculous colours without meaning was presented in the very place where de Gaulle moped about planning his plans. The tea was was tea colour and served in china cups and was accompanied by cake in the afternoon. And stood the clock at ten to three and all was well with the Empire.....

But enough of this already, enough you say. What of the Fabs ? Well, having got up before I went to bed to catch the first train out of Cantium (un-godly 06:15 - two carriages, standing room only and no tea trolley) I arrived in Londinium Central nearly two hours before the meeting and so sauntered without particular aim between The Mall and Pall Mall. Readarzzz of this tripe may have concluded from previous entries that Brilig is not the most organised of fellows and so, true to form, Beatle London book and camera had been left on 'side' next to the biscuit barrel having been placed there night before in semi-inebriated state as I could not possible forget them if I placed them there on the 'side' - the 'side' cannot be missed. Oh crap - I've gotta get a system going coz this memory thing is starting ...starting....yeah ok.

Not to cut a long story short and without AtoZ (didn't even remember to leave that on the 'side') I meandered like a lost soul convinced that Chappel Street was close by (it isn't particularly) and so ended back up in Mason's Yard - boring, went there a few months back. Anyhow, one picture of The Scotch Club which, until a few weeks back, was the Directos' Lodge Club but is now under reconstruction. As it happens, the entrance to this building and, indeed, the nearby Indica Gallery building could have been breached today - the galley appeared open and the building site had an open door. So could have entered both buildings on the same day - but didn't. The powerpoint had not received the raptuous applause it so obviously deserved and so despondency ruled and that train back to Cantium beckoned. Ho hum ho hum hom hum ho hum ho hum hummy ho hum...

The Scotch Club - Builders at Work
Back in the Day - Brilig dancing with Patti - loved that girl

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Its gotta back beat you can use it

Having reached a 'certain' age last week, I was showered with generous gifts and of all things pepperland from friends and family - and even my place of work where a quarter of a century of (cough, cough, nervous embarrassment) dedication to the cause was recognised not through the cerimonial presentation of gold watch from a thankfull MD but an email that said 'Wow 25 years ! Here's 500 squids for a night out'.

And so a splendid time in jolly old Londinium where much good living was had for 36 hours the highlight being a meal near the Blueposts following a good seat at the truely excellent BackBeat show. Unexpectedly moving throughout, a strong upper lip was required - it was hayfever, I swear. The pollen count being exceptionally high for this time of year. Must read up a bit more on Stuart Sutcliffe.

William Mews

Alas, the pickings are meagre these days to say the least. The Beatles' London book lists Williams Mews as being the home of George and Ringo in '64 and the place wot was visited by burglarrrrsss. So, whilst waiting around Knightsbridge station (as you do) directing pretty Italians to 'Arrods' (that wasn't the main reason for being there, urm...) I wandered off down the side streets of this most exclusive of neighbourhoods and eventually found it. Quite surprised by the naffness of this building amoung otherwise such appealing mews houses. Worth noting a couple of excellent pubs nearby, The Wilton Arms and The Nag's Head, the latter being of particular interest. Definitely a place where all heads turn to observe newcomers who dare to set foot over their threshold - 'Mine's not a Babycham' but welcoming after the locals adjust to your look. Look at the graininess - gotta get a camera

Saturday, October 15, 2011

When did you first realise you were mad ?

Having failed miserably in my early years of schooling I found myself idling away my teens in a 'Secondary Mod' which the Head constantly referred to as a Comprehensive. It was not such a beast ! We had all failed the 11+ and the Grammar was just down the road. We were not the brightist Mr Boulton (obviously) but hey pal - we were not stupid ! Actually some were. Let's move on (if only I could).

There was this art teacher, young and keen, who wanted to expose us to the 'shock of the new'. He started well - surrealism, dadaism etc etc all raised titters and kept us amused but when some more robust members of the class cut down the school tree and hailed it as an 'event' and claimed to have been encouraged by the hippy art master, Mr Boulton was not amused and the young and keen become dull and boring. Back to drawing apples and pears and making montages out of old sunday magazines.

Now this was 1974 and all the kids (not me of course) sported Ziggy Stardust cuts and platform shoes. So to the old magazines with scissors in hand. Hold on, what's this ? An old Sunday Times (11-Jan-1970) with an article about the Beatles Appple empire. Why this caught my attention so much I am not sure but this was the moment when I thought 'What the heck happened to the Beatles ?' And so it started. Cut the magazine up anyway...never thought I'd be searching for it 37 years later and willing to pay £30 for it. Mad ? Relative to what ?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sunday Evening

Antiques Roadshow - absolutely Sunday Evening. This lady has the single Please, Please Me signed by all four Fabs. In fact, Macca signed it twice. She always liked him best. Worth £3000. So it goes.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ain't much going on..

Was it Andy Warhol who said 'Boredom can be fun' ? Or was it 'Everybody will be bored for 15 minutes' or was it 'Obsessives are boring in less than 15 minutes'

A combination of kids' parties, sleep-overs and work committments (blimey yes I do have a job and how it distracts from the more important things in life like Fab Four sluething - urmmm....I mean looking after the Brilig clan) ..yes, yes all these things meant a trip to olde Londinium was out of the question (well I did actually ask the question and discovered that it was actually out of the question). So my mis-adventures were once again restricted to a couple of hours in the Olde Worlde Wells of ancient West Cantium. Ho hum Ho Hum Ho Hum. So what's happening here and what has these amateur Beatle Nut to report ? Ain't much I am afraid....Beatles never visited this place so really meagre pickings. Bored, bored zzz..

So, I walked into this tiny shop tucked into a corner of the majestic but rarely visited Corn Exhange. A place where the foot-fall (did I just say that ?) is quiet to the point of silent. A place where I feel so sorry for the little cafe in there that I have been known (Ok - always) to buy a coffee and a scone (that's scone ryhming with ....moan ?) having just had a coffee at Starbucks. I worry that they plan the number of scones they need to bake on a Friday night based on a view as to whether that strange chap with Beatle cufflinks might drop in. Do they ? I don't want to know. How do I get out of that committment ? Stop thinking about it. Anyway, very quiet. But this little place is great. A tiny space dripping with 60's and 70's nostalgia. Got chatting with owner and turns out he runs major nostalgia-fests all around Europe ! He tells me he used to be the football manager of a local non-league team and shows me a photo of himself back in the day with members of the '66 World Cup squad. Glad I made the effort to talk - that doesn't always happen. Note to self - be more sociable. It doesn't hurt does it for christsakes ! I am leaving, I spot the paperback 'All You Needed was Love'. Read half of it straight off when I went back to Starbucks - why do I do that ?

Next stop - the multitude of chaaaarity shops on the off chance that someone may have dropped off a book, record or some other flotsum or jetsum since last visit (which was last week - gosh what a sad-o). It occurs to me that when you are that in-tune with the evolving itinary of such shops, you get a feeling about who may have 'passed-on' to other places. Don't wanna think about that one. Anyway, Twiggy autobiography catches my attention and I flick to index - as one does (from age about 14). She mentions that McCartney had a pyschedelic mural on his wall at Cavendish Rd painted with JL (check, check) and it is still there - re-decorations painting around it. Well he would, wouldn't he ?

And then the clock strikes and I am once again caught up in the wirrlygig of fantastic family committments which - thank God - draw me back to reality and purpose. The Briligs are home for tea and that is always good.

Our neighbours of ten years are moving on. This is not good news in the Brilig house and we shall miss them. They are having a sort-out and mindful of my interest (obsession ? No, no just a healthy interest surely ?) pass on to me a whole host of Beatle Stuff. I'm lovin' it as the kids never, ever, ever say...

Monday, August 22, 2011


Reader look at this ! This is where Brian Epstein lived '64 to '67. We all know that. This is where he threw the Sgt Pepper party, this is where he got upset coz Macca did not turn up at his party. We know ! We know !It is from here that he set off the night before he died. All very well documented by Mr KenwoodLennon. In true to form style, Brilig drove in circles around this tiny hamlet before pulling up in the middle of nowhere in total desperation (the hours were passing having wasted an hour in The Wrong Place ie Wivelsfield - well its starts with a W and it is in Sussex). Happily, a local who appeared out of nowhere told me 'Its behind you !' and it was - literally. She also then confirmed the stories of the old pile being owned by Americans and that 'there be walls in that there place wot are psychedelic !' She was really very helpful and did not really speak like that and I am very grateful to her.

Here it is from all directions - my obsession knows no bounds.

Looks like there used to be a set of step here - you can see there used to be a gap in the wall..

Here is a 'Beatle Apple' that fell into my hands as I leanred over the fence. Pathetic, pathetic !! But in terms of a good two hours snatched, it was one of the best snatched two hours. Pity I did'nt stop at
No. 41: The Merrie Harriers, Cowbeech, East Sussex on the way back to Chez Brilig. Maybe the next snatched two hours.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

An amateur's day out in London

On occasions, I manage to steer the conversation at Casa Brilig in the direction of a London visit, ostensibly playing to the consumerist urges of the younger members of the Brilig clan whose thirst for over-priced trinkets knows no bounds, but at all times planning a parallel path through similar haunts of adjacent places which appealed to these same hedonistic instincts but four decades earlier (albeit with better taste if that means anything other than confirming I am old, old, old). And so, when the family plans point us in the direction of the cathedral of all things shallow and meaningless - eg. Westfield, I 'drop them off' and make a flying visit to Portabello and 'les environs'. Then on to TopShop Oxford Circus - quick detour to Kingly get the idea. Do I feel bad about the deception ? No, yes, no will get me in the end but where The Book points me, there go I (Beatles' London Book of course)

So here goes. First up in this Mini Mystery Tour is the Mercury Theatre where the Fabs started their very strange Mad Day Out with parrot, piano and a big board. I wonder about the extent of the planning for that July day in '68. I think I have read that the venues were chosen by Macca's brief girlfriend Francie Schwartz - what lead her to choose those places ?

With Londom AZ in hand I managed to find the site of the Portland Pub around which they zoomed in a deleted scene from A Hard Day's Night. This whole area is just a short walk from the north end of Portabello Road and is now sehr gentrified. The said building is now a Health-Spa-type-thing called Cowshed where one can have one's whole body massaged in an upper class kind of way for a mere...enough of that already.

Still a few minutes before the clan grow bored of Holister hankerchiefs (cheives, chieves ??) at £10 a pop. Quick ! Where next ! Round the corner man - and make it snappy. Here is the Police Station that never was in same film.

Faster, faster ! Some (understatement) embarrasment as I searched for the elusive Heathfield Street where the Four scratched their collective head at the end of a cul-de-sac in same film. The Book said it would not be easy but as I searched in vain I ended up in someone's back garden. Sunbathing on a deck chair, the young chap asked me politely if he could help. He couldn't and I quickly backed away. O joy ! Could this be it ? It is the back of Winterbourne House but the backdrop does not look right. Is it really the place ? Not a road, just the back of the housing estate and no entrance without the key to the big padlock.

Time to pick up the kids and off to Oxford Street. Safetly esconced in Top(myself)Shop with vouchers to spare I dipped down into Kingly Street. First up is Number 9 and the Bag-of-Nails where the Paul met the Linda and Jimi Hendrix first played. This venue is still an exclusive (?) club and across the way at 62 the buidling now looks an unlikely venue for La Valbonne night club. Further up there is 21, previously hosting the Picture Story Publications business.

Enfin, time to eat and why not try The Pheasantry Club Pizza Express in King's Road - everyone's happy and they don't all need to know that this is where Macca chatted-up Julie Felix on 21 January '67. And look at the mural on the wall ! Why the connection with Lou Reed ?

And then a pleasant walk back along 'the street' pausing briefly at 161 which is now a gallery exhibiting the following interesting (same story) pics - also the venue of the first Beatle and last Beatle shop,

Then home - everybody happy ? Yes !

Hold on ! What's this..Logged onto the intraweb only to discover from Mr KenwoodLennon that there was some form of Abbey Road re-enactment on the very day I was sneaking around the city ! I could have been there ! I could have been THERE !!

And with soft, deceitful wiles... serves me right.