Thursday, 29 July 2010

The Daughters of Kensington

Here’s David, training both pen and lens on his beloved Kensington (NB: There’s a SPECIAL OFFER at the bottom of the post)…

“The great American cultural anthropologist made us understand that even the tiniest community of ‘primitive’ South Sea islanders was an infinitely wonderful and varied and colourful living thing. An evanescent, ever-changing, many hued prism.

And that’s by way of introducing some of The Daughters of Kensington. (And, yes, our Kensington Walk.)

Just here in Kensington Church Walk, for example:


It’s like penetrating to one of Mead’s remote Polynesian islands. Londoners – let alone tourists – don’t find their way in there. Or if they are fortunate enough to get ‘lost’ and stumble in there – well, ‘what a charming mural on the side of that house’.

And that’s as far as it goes, as far as they get. They’re not really seeing much at all, not ‘getting it’. It’s like flying over that remote South Sea island, taking a couple of tourist snaps, gawking and waving (half embarrassedly, half tentatively) at the islanders down below and then swoosh it’s back to the ‘tourist compound’, the resort.

Go in there on Adam’s or David’s or Angela’s walk, though, and it’s like riding shotgun with Margaret Mead down on the ground, in amongst ‘the natives’.

That little girl in the mural, for example. That’s Kim. She’s a Kensington Daughter. James, who’s lived in the house for over 40 years is her dad. (He’s in the painting as well, though you can’t see him in this view.) He had the mural painted for Kim – and her brother, Jensen, who’s also in the painting, but not visible in this section. James wanted for his kids, instead of a blank wall, a storybook treatment of their childhood, where they lived, the stuff they were growing up with, etc. And can you see Rachel and Annie? They’re James’ godchildren. If you look very closely you should be able to see them.

And the Millinery. Well, it turns out that there’s a wonderful millinery only about ten yards from the one shown here. Life imitating art. Lady by the name o’ Gina has opened it in her dad Peter’s hairdressing salon. Peter’s turned the place over to Gina and taken his considerable skills just a few doors along Kensington Church Walk. He’s joined Annie’s team. Annie Russell, as I describe her, is ‘the most gifted hairdresser of the last half century’. Proof? Well, how does being Elizabeth Taylor’s hairdresser for 12 years grab you?

Anyway, Annie and Peter were competitors for years. And now they’ve joined forces. And Peter’s daughter’s got her Millinery. It’s, well, storybook stuff. Kensington storybook stuff.

Oh and Annie’s also got a wonderful daughter, Tamsyn, who helps out in the salon (when she’s not looking after her toddler son, George).

And as long as we’re at it, there’s another very special Kensington father-daughter team a stone’s throw away in Thackeray Street. It’s the father-daughter team – Gordon French and Alex – who run Gallery 19, the bestest little art gallery on the planet.

Kensington Village is that kind of place. If you can get ‘an entrĂ©e’.

And that’s where we come in.”

DEAR LONDON WALKS BLOGGERS & WALKERS,

IF YOU PRINT THIS POST AND BRING IT ALONG NEXT MONDAY TO THE KENISINGTON PUB QUIZ WALK (THE KENSINGTON HALF & HALF 7PM MONDAY 2ND AUGUST) YOU WILL GET £1 OFF THE COST OF YOUR WALK! AND YOU MAY EVEN WIN A PRIZE IN THE QUIZ!


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