There are good days and sometimes better.
Today was sometimes better.
William Roache – KEN BARLOW off the street – is a gentle, sweet man. He believes what he believes. Doesn’t try to make anybody part of his gang. The paperback version of ‘SOUL on the STREET’ reveals what drives him. Describes his philosophy. He has humour and humility, if Steve Allen had not gone on holiday I wouldn’t have met him.
So thank you Mr. A.
And then CAROLINE TAGGART, came in to talk about her grammar book. She reminded me of a Simmental cow. We have eight of them in the farm next to the cottage. They are smooth and light, blonde and langorous. They have a gentleness about them, their folds of chamis leather skin hanging down by milky bellies. Caroline had that lightness about her, with the smoothness of the Simmentals. She was funny and clever, when the phone started ringing it ‘Was such fun’. to quote one of you callers. I had no idea just how many of you got wound up by bad grammar and pronunciation?
Caroline lives in Pimlico which is why I drove that way to Borough.
She said that a lot of people of ‘our’ generation knew that area.
As it goes Lupus street housed a squatting photographer I knew in the 70’s. I have just used a misplaced modifier or a dangly bit, according to Caroline. The photographer wasn’t actually squatting he was in a house that was a squat – see.
I like dangly bits, they always make me chuckle.
Anyway I decided I would drive directly to Bermondsey Street for the opening of an exhibiton at ‘The Fashion and Textile Museum’. Rather than go to the flat first I dribbled over to SE1 to meet up with Laura, who is studying fashion design.
Latymer road, over Brompton Road, over Earls Court Road, over Fulham Road, over the Kings Road, and instead of turning left into Worlds End I continued round the bend to the river.
The light was dimming, Whistler on my right and Beaufort Street on my left.
I stayed in the left hand lane. Past Chayne Walk, ever so posh and distinctly Central Parkesque, past Royal Hospital Road, down past the Albert Bridge, Chelsea bridge, snaking down the embankment until Vauxhall and the green lego MI6 building, bilious in the sunset.
Hanging a right under the arches by the gay bars and motor bike-shop and swooping into the Elephant and Castle.
Sarf East here we come. I drove round the roundabout and wiggled my way into the back streets of Borough. Parked opposite a nursery school, safe I thought, took the radio out and locked it in the boot, bunged in an hours worth of parking and wandered off down Bermondsey Street.
The estate agents are flourishing – what with all that rented property, as are trendy pubs and flower shops, paper shops and coffee bars.
I stopped off for a soya-skinny-latte, if you don’t mind, and a plastic pot of vegan salad. I know, I know, but I felt like it.
Then I wandered around until I found the FTM. All pink and orange like a big juicy chew…
Then I collected my car and drove round the back streets until six thirty where I found a parking spot right in front of the museum.
I bought two pink and two orange gerberas, the colour of the museum, for Bee and Nathan, a bag of shopping for them, and stuck them in the boot of the car ( oops! another dangly bit…I didn’t stick them in the boot it was just the shopping) I was dropping in on the way home.
I’ve known Laura since she was 2, she’s now the most delectable young woman and has just started fashion design at Kingston. A good place I am assured.
She turned up wearing red boots, blue tights, a dress as short as a garter and a smile as wide as Warsaw – her dad’s Polish.
She came in as my guest. With the aplomb of an 18 year old fashion student, she held her champagne flute aloft. I reminded her to have her questions ready for Zandra Rhodes at al, in the event she was struck dumb……
The place was heaving with skinny, red-lipped models. Mountainous women with wrap-around headresses, wrap-around linen kaftans and expensive multi-coloured dresses that would have housed the entire Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
Oh Yes, big bank balances abounded as did brazen bracelets and an abundance of bangles that could have anchored a cruise ship.
Men with little rainbow skullcaps and chinese collared suits posed in amongst the papier mache models who swung on swings all wearing Bill Gibb’s outfits. That was the purpose of the evening. An exhibiton of the designs of Bill Gibb.
Twiggy gave a speech, Zandra Rhodes gave a speech. Both of whom I had interviewed in my last incarnation so Laura got to shake hands with heroes and heroines, Bruce Oldfield, David Reeson, and nearly Richard-The-Rocky-Horror-Show- O’Brien, he was too preoccupied with looking cool.
A two foot reflective dragon fly hung round the neck of a man with aging feline features who kissed all the cheeks he met side-on.His companion wore a hat so precariously perched I marvelled at its gravitational precision, the hat-pin that held it to the head of the comely matron was as bold and brilliant as her dazzling cohort.
Voluminous dresses and Isadora Duncan scarves wound their way round the room.
Bill Gibb dresses hung upstairs and downstairs. Beautiful creations from the 70’s and beyond.
Chiffon, silk, taffeta and toulle floated inbetween the be-decked, be-jeweled fashionistas. Pictures of Twiggy, Twiggy herself. Pictures of outfits, the outfits themselves. Zandra Rhodes, still with pink hair and orange lipstick, opened the museum years ago. It used to be a cash and carry, she now resides in the roof whilst bright young things visit daily soaking up the style of then, trying to turn it into the style of now.
Laura took out her camera and recorded an historic moment. She had no idea she was in the presence of such greatness. It was merely a room of the past parading before her young eyes.
We left at 8.00 after nearly two hours of high fashion, high camp and high society. Laura skipped offf to Kingston as I drove to Brixton to drop off the gerberas and provisions.
I had Jasmine tea with the daughter, and then set off back to the flat. My dungarees splattered with Chinese tea and French Champagne.
Laura texted me to say she was back safely, that she had thought of a thousands question for Zandra on the train and that she had forgotten the name of that tall old man – that man being the forever young Bruce Oldfield.
Celebrity comes and goes but real art lingers on. Go to the exhibiiton,if you can, it will take you back to the swinging sixties even if you were never there.
1.37 and time for bed.