I had a meeting in Ladbroke Grove around lunchtime and a radio recording at Broadcasting House at about five and wanted to have a think about the radio rewrite of Gorgeous, so I decided to walk into town. Our long walk on Tuesday has reignited my nomad spirit and I enjoyed wending my way through Portobello Road and up to Marble Arch, thinking, observing, stopping off for lunch.
It was good autumn walking weather and my brain was buzzing with ideas and I was spotting stuff that I might not normally have noticed. At Lancaster Gate I passed an odd memorial statue that I had not noticed before with a carved portrait of a man who looked a bit like Charles Darwin, above whom was a weather beaten statue of a small boy (or some human figure). My curiosity piqued I went over to have a look, but rain and wind had taken its toll and it was hard to read the name or many of the words. It seemed to be to someone called Reginald (possibly Richard) Bra-something-von, who lived from 1841-1929. It wasn't really clear what the memorial was for, though it did mention Empire Day. It turns out it's actually dedicated to Reginald Brabazon, the 12th Earl of Meath
, which sounds like a made-up character. I am guessing he was a prick. But there's something intriguing about a memorial to someone forgotten, especially when a century of weather has partially obliterated the stone. You can aim for immortality, but eventually your edifice will be dust, just like you are. Then again I doubt I will be making it into many blogs 80 odd years after my death, so keep up the good work Reggie. Celebrate the Empire Day that you instigated.
A little further along some workmen were taking a rest on some steps. They were adding gilding to some railings, the leaf was still damp and had little flecks of gold filings sticking up all over it, like it was some golden magnet. It looked awesome.
Past Marble Arch I saw some men up on top of the newly built shops with a glass curved roof cleaning the windows suspended on ropes. As I waited to cross the road an uncautious cyclist ran through the lights and nearly ended up under a bus. But he fared better than the Tour de France winner and escaped unscathed. Outside Starbucks a man with a megaphone was shouting at passersby. I assumed he was a religious nut, but he was protesting about Starbucks not paying tax. Not in an entirely unnutty way, but at least I had some time for his message. He was a bit passive aggressive though and I thought alienated the people he was trying to convince to side with him, mocking them for needing an injection of coffee to get them through their working day before heading home to watch Eastenders. He left a sardonic pause as if he'd held up a mirror to them, "It's sad, but it's true," he laughed. I think the people probably didn't feel that bad for liking coffee and Eastenders. I still kinda liked him for making this stand, though by his own admission he'd been arrested for doing this before and was probably going to be arrested again and I got the impression he quite liked the cache of being arrested. He mocked the staff for their loyalty to the chain, but to be honest I suspect that they just didn't like him because he was on a megaphone outside their shop and he was thus making their shitty days a bit shittier. But this was real London. A London that you miss on the tube, a London that you miss rushing around, a London full of spectacle and detail or old and of new.
I got to Broadcasting House, which I knew was decorated with sculptures by paedophile and dog-lover Eric Gill, but I'd forgotten the over-the-entrance prominence given to Prospero and Ariel - a bearded old man with a naked young boy seemingly emanating from his crotch. The BBC could probably do without that at the moment and I can only presume no one from compliance has noticed it or it would have to be covered up. Why has the wind and rain obliterated most of poor Reginald Brabazon's name, but Ariel's cock and Jimmy Savile haircut remain intact? To be fair the BBC probably didn't know Gill was a paedophile. I mean it's not like he left any massive clues. Over the front door of their headquarters.
I chatted about Rasputin with Matthew Parris (who off air mentioned the name of the politician he thought was involved in recent accusations, but it wasn't a name I recognised and it isn't any of the ones floating around on the internet - it might be time for us to let the courts deal with these issues rather than people having a guess based on who looks a bit odd I'd say) and historian Robert Service for the Radio 4 programme "Great Lives". It will be broadcast on January 1st.
Then home for another frame of Me vs Me snooker which should be up tomorrow.