Monday, 18 March 2019

The Monday Photoblog: Sit Down London

DC Editor Adam Scott-Goulding writes…

Monday is ALMOST mute here on The Daily Constitutional. I always launch the week with a few London photos, grouped on a theme or neighbourhood.

This week: London Sits…

Honest Abe refuses to take a load off, Parliament Square

A snow-covered Boris Bike/Sadiq Cycle saddle
Warmer climes, Hyde Park

Memorial bench for Marc Bolan, Golders Green Crematorium

Banqueting House

Getting there
A tribute to the late comedian Sean Hughes in Highgate Wood

Best vista in the world: from a Soho café

The Monday Photoblog will return next week. In the meantime, if you'd like to share a London photo with me, please do! Perhaps you joined me on a tour and snapped a great shot. Drop me a line.

Click the button below to book a place on one of my scheduled public tours…

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Saturday, 16 March 2019

London Horror Story… A Photoblog

DC Editor Adam writes…

Some shots around the route of my London Horror Story tour (tonight & every Saturday 7.30pm St Paul's tube)…

Is that a ghost in the window?

Join me on London Horror Story tonight Saturday 2nd March. Meet at St Paul's tube 7.30pm

Ghosts, murder and mayhem - 2,000 years of dark history

£10/£8 Pay on the day or book now…

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Friday, 15 March 2019

Motown In London

Friday is London Music Tour day! Join the London Music Tour today (and every Friday) afternoon at 2:00p.m meeting at Tottenham Court Road Station

DC Editor Adam writes…

From time-to-time I update my series on The Great London Sleeves here on The Daily Constitutional. I'm in a quandary today with this one…


Not sure if it qualifies as a great London sleeve – the pic could have been taken anywhere.

As a great album, however, it is, for this listener, unimpeachable. And fascinating, too. It dates from one of rock and pop's twilight periods: it's 1968 and pop groups are getting bigger in sound and scope. Rock Opera is in the air and "prog" is just around the corner.

So what becomes of the pop group who can't, or simply doesn't want to evolve in such a fashion? What happens when critical opinion is leaving them behind, when fashion has turned its back? They go back, that's what, regress to a reassuring, tried and tested earlier model. In this case, it's back to the late 50s when pop was viewed as merely the youth branch of showbiz, with no potential to evolve, where acts would have their half dozen chart topping hits and then "graduate" into adult showbiz, cabaret, musicals and movies.

1968 was an uncertain time for singles bands, when the album was becoming king. And The Supremes were one of the ultimate singles bands.

The Talk of the Town was London's famous cabaret venue, established by Bernard Delfont in 1958 at the Hippodrome Theatre in the West End (a Frank Matcham designed theatre opened in 1900). Judy GarlandFrank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald played seasons there. Ethel Merman made her only British appearances at The Talk of the Town.

In February '68 Diana Ross and The Supremes were in residence. Founder member Flo Ballard had been ousted and Motown boss Berry Gordy had changed the band's name from The Supremes to Diana Ross & The Supremes. New member Cindy Birdsong made her British live debut with the group on this album.

Both Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger were said to have attended the shows and the album finds the group poised half-way between show tunes and pop. The album opens with the Rodgers and Hart number With A Song In My Heart (The Supremes Sing Rodgers and Hart had been the band's most recent LP, and the last with Flo Ballard). But the Live At London's Talk Of The Town album still has enough Holland-Dozier-Holland classics to keep the purists happy – Stop In the Name Of Love and Reflections, to name but two. There's even a nod to the locals with a medley of McCartney's Yesterday and Michelle.

As a music fan, I cannot remember a time when I did not love Motown

I was seven years old when my elder brother left home and he left behind two LP's that he no longer wanted: Beatles For Sale and the compilation Motown Chartbusters Vol.3. The latter featured three Diana Ross and the Supremes numbers: I'm Gonna Make You Love Me (with The Temptations), No Matter What Sign You Are and Love Child. I have been hooked ever since.

I was delighted a couple of years ago when The Supremes became the subject of my daughter's school homework. She was seven years old at the time and for Black History Month she had to find out five facts about a black musician or band. After rummaging through my LP's, she whittled it down to Billy Preston, Ray Charles and The Supremes. The Supremes came out on top. "Why The Supremes?" I asked. "Because they are girls," she replied.

The opportunity to discuss Black History Month AND Girl Power all in one simple lesson. And we got to listen to The Supremes – the band I had first heard when I was aged 7, too. It was the perfect Sunday morning.

One of my favourite music books takes its name from a Supremes classic. Where Did Our Love Go? The Rise & Fall Of The Motown Sound (above) by Nelson George was published in 1985.

My copy has a dedication on the first page, written by my girlfriend of the time, a fantastic and forthright woman called Sarah. She was clearly tired of me banging on about music…


Advice that I duly ignored. If I had taken the hint (!) I wouldn't have been able to help my daughter with her homework all those years later. And I wouldn't be leading the Rock'n'Roll London Walk this afternoon.

I've been talking about The Supremes (but NOT boring ANYONE to death, thanks Sarah!) for 43 years now. I'll be doing it again when we pass The Hippodrome this afternoon on the London Music Tour. Come and join me.

Diana Ross & The Supremes at the Talk Of the Town will also feature on my forthcoming guided tour Women In Music – Divas, Rebels & Junkies 1722 - 2019 which goes out on Saturday 6th July at 10:45a.m. The Facebook event page – and ticket links – can be found here:

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Thursday, 14 March 2019

My London Walks Tours Next Week 18th - 25th March 2019

DC Editor Adam writes…

My scheduled London Walks tours for next week…

Monday 18th March

Hidden London

Meet at Monument tube (Fish Street Hill exit) 11a.m

Old City churches, the livery companies, folklore, legend and history - a celebratory exploration of 2,000 years of London history.

Tour ends at Blackfriars tube.

Tuesday 19th March  

Somewhere Else London

Meet at 2pm Embankment Station

Lambeth and the South Bank - a two-hour festival of architecture…

£10/£8 Pay on the day or book now…

Thursday 21st March

Inside Covent Garden

Meet at Covent Garden Tube 10.00a.m

The West End revealed - looking beyond the shops and chain cafés to the rich history of London's playground. Where possible, we'll take in a few interiors, too.

Tour ends in Trafalgar Square

£10/£8 Pay on the day or book now…

London Horror Story

Saturday 23rd March

Meet at St Paul's tube 7.30pm

Ghosts, murder and mayhem - 2,000 years of dark history

£10/£8 Pay on the day or book now…

Want to book a private tour? Get in touch!

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Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Jack Kerouac's 97th Birthday

DC Editor Adam writes…

Today would have been Jack Kerouac's 97th birthday. Beat poet, novelist, restless soul and self-styled "Crazy Catholic mystic", Kerouac was the great literary hero of my teen and twenties. I still return to him from time to time.

Of particular interest to me these days as a London tour guide, is his brief sojourn to our capital back in 1957.

In the face of public outrage in the U.S. at the publication of his most famous work On the Road, Kerouac adhered to the first rule of pyrotechnics. Having lit his fabulous yellow roman candle of a novel, he stood well back: in Tangier (with erstwhile Londoner William Burroughs), in Europe and, for a brief few days, London. 

His account of this stay can be found in the 1960 collection Lonesome Traveller

In re-reading the London pages of Lonesome Traveller, the great surprise, from the man who fathered the 21st Century concept of hardcore Traveller over sedate Holidaymaker, is that his London highlights – pea-soup fog, policemen’s helmets, pints of bitter beer – read more like a checklist of touristy ephemera than a cache of rare gems unearthed by a seasoned adventurer. 

But the sheer, childlike glee with which Kerouac announces each “discovery” is infectious stuff. 

From St Paul’s (for a Good Friday performance of the Matthew Passion) to the Old Vic (for The Taming of the Shrew), Kerouac – a man patently in thrall to the city before he’s even stepped off the train at Victoria – finds his London of the imagination perfectly in rhythm with the real thing. 

Perhaps it was the dignity of old lady London, despite her still-ragged post-war weeds, that delighted the so-called King of the Beats most of all. Was there a city more Beat than London in 1957? 

Where better for Kerouac to live out his last few days of obscurity before heading into the teeth of the Beat Generation storm?

Following in his footsteps as chronicled in the book, we head down Fleet Street where Jack stops at the old King Lud pub (now a branch of Leon) for a pint of bitter and a Welsh rarebit. I wonder if the folks at Leon would consider adding this dish to the menu? Here's the King Lud as it looks today…

And here it is back in 1969, the year of Kerouac's death…

Today we can still see the mythical King Lud's head above the door…

Way back in 2009 I created a Jack Kerouac In London walking tour to mark the 40th anniversary of his death. I took it out again in 2012 for his 90th birthday. Perhaps I'll give it another outing later this year.

Here's the video I made to go with the 2012 tour…

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