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.

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