28 November 2017

Freightliners Farm

It never ceases to amaze me how many people who live in Holloway don't know that this is here.

I am here only showing images of the lovely tiled panels on the exterior wall but the other side of the wall is a marvellous surprise. Being a farm, it is more of a hands-on experience and to hard to capture in photos.
This "community space in the heart of Islington" has lots to see and experience for all ages. And a fab café too.
Go find out for yourself or come and discover it on one of my walking tours and find out about many more green places and things in the area.

Info: Freightliners Farm.

21 November 2017

Melancholia: A Sebald Variation – an exhibition at Somerset House

Melancholia: A Sebald Variation is a marvellous thought-provoking exhibition hidden away in the Inigo Rooms within the East Wing at Somerset House.
It's really worth checking it out. I stumbled upon it by accident last month and ended up spending quite a while in there.

The exhibition, presented by King’s College and curated by John-Paul Stonard and Lara Feigel, takes the writings of W.G. Sebald (1944-2001) as a starting point for an exploration of melancholia in European art and culture. Inspired in particular by Sebald’s 1997 publication On The Natural History of Destruction, this exhibition sees works by international contemporary artists set alongside images documenting the destruction of Germany in WW2, as well as W.G. Sebald’s own manuscripts and peculiar photography collection.
Highlights include: Albrecht Dürer’s famous print Melencolia I (1514) which is on loan from the British Museum, never before exhibited photographs by Anselm Kiefer, made in the 1980s, depicting aircraft constructed out of sheets of lead taken from the roof of Cologne cathedral,  Tacita Dean’s Our Europe and eye-witness drawings by Wilhelm Rudolph of the smouldering ruins of Dresden here in Britain for the first time. There are also some works that have been specially commissioned for the exhibition.
Make sure you have the time to watch Guido van der Werve’s award-winning endurance-art film project Nummer Vierteen: Home, 2012 – a fabulously compelling piece that lasts 50 minutes – it's worth finding out what time the screening starts so as to be able to see it from the beginning. And I'd also recommend taking time to watch the video of an interview between W.G. Sebald and Susan Sontag.
Until 10th December 
Tues–Sat: 11:30–17:30
Wednesday lates until 19:30
Sundays 14:30–17:30

13 November 2017

Diary of a Nobody at Kings Head Theatre – Avoid avoid!!

No pics with this post – just a review about what I had hoped would be an interesting twist on a much-loved book; a book I have read four times.

Last week I sent out a missive to customers who have been on my guided walks:
"As you know, one of my walks is all about how the Nag's Head area of Holloway and how it looked in its late Victorian heyday when George and Weedon Grossmith's comic character Mr Pooter "lived" there (here!).
I thought you might be interested to know that there is a play on at the King's Head Theatre at the moment that is based on the book. It runs until Saturday 18th.
I am just about to book my own ticket – perhaps I will see you there...?"

I went with two friends to see the play on Friday night. Oops. I'd spoken, I'd promoted, too soon. I could have stayed at home and clipped my toenails. Or enamelled the bath.
I should stick to my guns and only write about the things I have seen or experienced in person, because I had to again write to those same people:
"... Evelyn Waugh is quoted in the production's blurb as saying this is/was "the funniest book in the world". This quote needs to be put into context – bear in mind that Waugh's own characters, such as in Decline and Fall, are subtlely observed, hence why he would have loved DOAN as being in the same vein.
This particular adaptation is for people who like their old favourites updated, amended and added to, in this case using an inane mix of Victorian genteel and 20thC swearing, with a quite confusing mix of characters played by just four actors. I have read the book four times and I thought the first half hour of the play in particular was painfully fast.  
If, like me, you like the book's gentle comic style then be prepared to sit straight-faced all the way through the play wondering the other half of the audience is finding so damn laugh-out-loud-as-loud-as-you-
can-to-prove-you-get-the-joke-hilarious.  During the interval I wondered whether to bother going back inside. It got worse, not better.
But, hey, if you haven't read the book you might actually enjoy this as a piece of fun, jolly theatre.
On a positive note, the stage sets and costumes are good."
Note that the two friends I went to see the play with concurred. As we exited the theatre we three were numb, our ears having suffered one particular audience members' outrageously loud whooping and whoa-ing. We were all unusually stunned into silence by it all; it wasn't even worth a post-mortem so we said goodnight and all went home in different directions.
I am reminded that the play was serialised on the BBC a few years back with Hugh Bonneville in the title role – that too was very HA HA HA. Everyone seems to be missing the point. I wonder what the brothers Grossmith would make of all this...?

UPDATE May 2018
I am planning a guided walk around the Holloway area based on this book including the kind of places Mr Pooter would have visited and where he would have purchased many of the items mentioned in his diary. This will form part of the Footprints of London Literary Festival in October 2018 but I should have the walk up and running by July so please check Jane's London Walks for updates.

8 November 2017

What is Whitebait? Read Roger Williams's book and find out more

Whitebait – a tasty fishstarter?
Or evil selective fishing?
And what exactly is a whitebait anyway?

Find out more in this wonderfully informative and absorbing little book by the marvellous Roger Williams.
Available here and here.
Roger's other books include The Temples of London, London's Lost Global Giant: in search of the East India Company, Father Thames and The Fisherman of Halicarnassus.

Also see Hugh's Fish Fight