Appreciating the ambiance of place and time is rushed off the stage too quickly in my view, in today’s gigabyte upload living speed.
First, there was the officially listed event in London Village monthly catalog. But that was just the starting point. The common or garden Sunday pub event very often developed into a day to remember for the rest of your life, which is what this blog is about. In the mid-1970’s, pubs on Sunday closed at 2pm. You might rolls your eyes at such a medieval custom, but “closing time” provided the invaluable nudge for the people who showed up for the pub lunch to come up with new plans. At least those who were not ready to morph into a couch potato for the remains of the day.
Two o’clock. What now? Chris Thompson offered a plan. Chris worked in Whitehall and had the appropriate Alec Douglas-Home accent for the job. Come back to my place if you want and have tea, Chris said. Sounded good to the band and off we went. One of the most excellent benefits of LV membership was the opportunity of discovering different parts of Central London one would never otherwise have visited. And best of all, from the inside, not just the street view – something Google Maps hasn’t yet worked out how to implement and hopefully never will. Chris, it turned out lived in the fashionable Edwardes Square, W.8. neighborhood, a district where nowadays only old moneyed Londoners and Russian oligarchs can afford to live. There were about a dozen of us in the high-ceilinged front room, enough to create a healthy conversational buzz.
In a previous blog I recounted how I distinctly chronicled to myself, in the moment (real time as we say), the enchantment of place, space and time as I walked across Regents Park in the early morning following a champagne party the night previous. Similar is the recollection of that room in London W.8. Every factor contributed to the moment; the generosity of Chris’ invitation, just plain tea and coffee, the high ceiling, the neighborhood surrounding us and the people, contemporaries and fellows in life’s journey. Appreciating the ambiance of place and time is rushed off the stage too quickly in my view, in today’s gigabyte upload living speed.
While I’m on the topic of appreciating the ambiance of where you are, I recall attending a soiree a couple had organized at their house up the hill from Ealing Broadway. The hosting couple were interior designers and this was the first such abode I had been inside; notwithstanding the settings at the Ideal Home Exhibition I was taken to by my parents when I was much younger. I gently touched the wallpaper and it was cloth not paper. The curtains had staggeringly bold stripes. Just being in the space caused a discernible uplift. Who was there? I have no clue, but the place, its arresting ambiance remains with me to this day.
I do not think I would have found the place by accident. It is too tucked away, as it properly should be. I have taken visitors there for lunchtime drinks, since.
I owe thanks to Chris for extending my classical music education. It may well have been that same evening, but a half dozen of us are now seated in a row in the well of the Royal Albert Hall. Handel’s Messiah is being performed. The conductor turns to the audience. People shuffle and rise. I did the same, just because. (Later, I researched the reason for the requirement, “to be upstanding” for the Hallelujah Chorus.) On the evening Chris turned to me and whispered, “the big hit single!” Oh, I get it.
The last I recall of Chris is that he married a lady from South America. Peru I think. Her family owned a plantation of some nature. I assume he spoke Spanish. He seemed to be the sort of good chap who would have many talents.
Comments are welcome below.
Were you amongst the people that special afternoon? If you were in the LV circle in the 1970’s, I would love to hear your memories and post them for others to enjoy.