Tuesday, 23 March 2010

I Was At Violet's Funeral.

From an artist's perspective, living in London reaps rich rewards in terms of observing unrelenting urban renewal. Things change and businesses turn over quicker than blancmange running through a fork.

Those of you who saw Paul Kelly's short film aired on C4 on dying workmen's cafes in Clerkenwell, and his and Kieran Evans' film, Finisterre will know what I'm getting at.

I've seen some changes in the pocket of East London where I've lived for the past 8 years, but having seen these changes, I marvel at what isolated buildings and businesses do manage to keep the wheels turning - and they appear to have been there for time immemorial. Take the picture above that I took recently:

This is my local printers. Note the writing above the door which looks like it was done in the 20s. This place is a museum in action. It's a joy to see places like this still tucked away and ticking over in the East End.

But I've seen similar businesses fade. Take 'Les's House Clearance': The old man over the way, Les, had a shop front where he just used to pile old clothes and all kinds of junk (it was a bric-a-brac shop essentially) on tressle tables. The shop was a disgrace but it was funny. Long, lean Les used to puff away on a fag in his flat cap. There'd be boxes of cassettes without covers in a shoe box and shoes without their partners. You'd let out an exasperated simper as soon as you walked in the door.

My brother-in-law used to pop in every day to chat to him. When we first moved here random places like this was what often set the East End apart. I don't know what happened to Les.

Next door was The Old Friends pub. We'd have a pint in there when we couldn't be arsed with the trendier places that were springing up around here, and to hear genuine cockney accents. We would sip our pints under brewery mass-ordered signed pics of Joanna Lumley and Jim Bowen.

The East End, like many pockets of London, is changing, but I hope the final changes are a long time coming.

My photo and accompanying blurb has been chosen to be exhibited at the Royal Academy, in the next few weeks.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

The Two Ronnies at the Epicentre.

I'm looking for a new pair of glasses and drawing a blank.

The reason I'm looking is, although I have contact lenses, I can't always be arsed to fiddle around with them before going out. I'm a big fan of the black rimmed NHS specs - nothing fancy - just big clunky trustworthies. I thought I'd got it right last year when I opted for Specsavers specs but although they're black rimmed, they're not quite right. There's something about the slightly south-leaning corners that are inauthentic.

I tried Optical Express and they were too flash (I hate Chanel and Dior symbols and what is it with arm designs in general? They're dreadful). I then hit upon the idea of trying Urban Outfitters for frames but they were pretentious, Shoreditch-style oversized monsters. And friends of mine on Twitter have visual evidence of me not even trying to pull these off.

Anyway, this made me pontificate on how glasses have changed over the years, and I've compiled a potted history of our favourite four-eyed figures over the decades:

Arthur Askey started off in the 1930s, where he appeared on an early form of BBC television. Askey had to be heavily made up for his face to be recognisable at such low resolution. When television cranked up a bit, Askey was a regular performer in variety shows. He went on to appear in some Gainsborough films and he finished off as a Paul Whitehouse incantation.

Glasses were a bit pointy in the late 50s and early 60s for many women. Dandy Nichols who started her career in 1947's Hue and Cry was more famous for playing Alf Garnett's eye-rolling wife.

BBC Parliament followers (especially a few Fridays ago when they screened the Feb 1974 elections) will have been swooning over David Butler's bins. This screengrab is actually taken from 1979 though, where he wore a better quality frame.

Mark Curry was gracing our screens pretty much at the same time NHS prescription glasses were going down the shitter (:-(). He represented a new wave of glamour and possibilities in the realm of primary coloured frames in outsizes.

Meanwhile, if anybody knows how I can get hold of a pair of NHS specs anywhere other than Ebay (I just can't get along with that place) then please do let me know.

I'm looking for something like this:

Friday, 19 March 2010

Not as good at the The Charlatans.

Graham Leslie Coxon and the children yapping at his heels would do well to check out another blogger's view of you all.

Meanwhile, Graham, this is for you:

Globe Cabinets

Do you have a drinks cabinet at home? If you live in a modest home in London like our good selves, it's unlikely but would you like one?

Mr Norman has long fancied a globe drinks cabinet. For the uninitiated, these cabinets are replicas of originals from the 17th century, when rich gentlemen liked to discuss the world - and perhaps their next voyage of discovery, over a glass or two of something special.

The maps, with their illustrations of sea monsters, landmarks and foreign peoples reveal a window into the thinking of the time.

Still, the main attraction would be to fill it with drinks that remind you of Christmas when you were little. Ours, depending on size (they come in various sizes and can cost over a grand) shall contain vermouth, very dry sherry, advocaat and brandy, martini glasses and Waterford crystal brandy bloomers. There'd also be pink flamingo and Stuart Crystal stirrers (the latter being the crystal of the region where I grew up).

Of course it'd look ridiculous in our modern flat, but therein lies the appeal.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Box Tops

We take a break from baiting nitwits on the net, to bring you something much more interesting and lovely.

He was only sweet 16 when he fronted Box Tops.

RIP Alex.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Song 2.

It would appear my Coxon jostling has created a shit-storm among children in forum land.

Do everyone a favour and slope back to masticating your retarded sheep-like opinions somewhere over there, and leave the grown-ups to it.

I would have thought Blur fans were a bit more sensitive. Don't let Graham Leslie Coxon see how moronic you are. He'd blush.

Comments will be re-enabled when all forums are under nuclear attack, or at least until I've finished baking this cherry bakewell.

Friday, 5 March 2010


This is the face of a child who murdered another child.

And this is also the face of a child.

I don't understand the hysteria around a man being awarded, (correctly awarded) an adult life, and who chooses to do the things that other adults enjoy. This should include going out in the areas he knows, and supporting the football team he follows,

Why is he a demon when Ronnie Kray - an adult - a premeditative, gratuitous, violent senior is hero-worshipped in the part of London where I live?

Look again.