Wednesday, 31 July 2019

W.G Grace

DC Editor Adam writes…


Commemorating: W.G Grace
Street: Lawrie Park
Postcode: SE26
Borough: Lewisham

To get in the mood for The Ashes this week, I've been posting about cricket every day.

And who better than perhaps the most famous cricketer of them all to help me?



Dr William Gilbert Grace – W.G to cricket devotees – is synonymous with cricketing records: first batsman to score a century in a first class match before lunch (for Gentlemen of the South versus Players of the South at The Oval in 1873); he played first-class cricket for 44 seasons, from 1865 to 1908; he made his farewell at Grove Park on 25 July 1914, playing for Eltham Cricket Club a week after turning 66 years old.

It was once suggested that only Queen Victoria and William Gladstone were more recognisable than Grace as public figures.

He collected almost as many nicknames as he did records, “The Doctor” (he was a medico by trade) and “The Old Man” being popular epithets.

But perhaps he is best summed-up with the well-earned soubriquet “The Champion”.

Legend has it that, from the garden of his house in Sydenham, he would shake his fist and shout at the passing Zeppelins during their raids in 1915.



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Tuesday, 30 July 2019

The Daily Constitutional London Library No.8 The Rats

Welcome to The Daily Constitutional London Library

In this ten-week series of posts I'll be drawing in literary fiction, popular fiction, graphic novels and non-fiction to create a reading list as disparate and inspiring as London itself. 

The 10 titles are linked in so much as each one features at least one London location – each post will also feature a map to one of the locations



No.8. The Rats (1974)
By James Herbert

My goodness, the people at Visit London are going to HATE this post… high season approaches in London and here’s the London Walks Blog covering the most gruesome and shockingly memorable London-set horror novel of all time.

Before you’ve even opened the thing, the title has the heart racing: The Rats. It plugs directly in to one of mankind’s most primal fears: and in a London context it sends historical shivers down the spine resonating back to 1665 and the Great Plague.

But a good title is nothing without a strong tale, and Herbert has fashioned a gripping narrative enhanced greatly by a vivid backdrop of a crisis-torn London.

All this and we haven’t even mentioned the giant, man-eating black rats.

Upon its publication the book attracted great criticism for its graphic scenes – but with nearly 40 years hindsight, Herbert can be seen as the man who brought British horror fiction out of the 19th Century drawing room/stately home/haunted castle and in to the streets of the 20th Century.

The exhilarating terror of the piece is timeless. The context is both very much of its time of writing (1974) and deeply Millennial. Its dystopian vision of a London failing to deal with a crisis places it firmly in the tradition of post-apocalyptic movies and TV of the period (the BBC’s Survivors, Hollywood’s The Omega Man).

Looking forward, it is hard to imagine the conception of recent horror/disaster movie 28 Days Later without Herbert’s disturbing tale. Just like that movie, the desolate London scenes haunt the memory for long years after. The scenes on the tube train will stay with you forever. Be afraid. No, really. We’re not kidding. Be VERY afraid.


Aldgate East tube. If you dare…




Next week… 


Too Stoned
By Andrew Loog Oldham











An appropriate tour for the book? London Horror Story on Tuesdays and Saturdays…



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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Five Things You Need To Know About Lord's

DC Editor Adam writes…


As the Ashes Test Match gets underway this week between England and Australia, here are five things you need to know about Lord's cricket ground…


• Lord’s, the world’s most celebrated cricket groundis named for Yorkshireman Thomas Lord (1755-1832). It was Lord who first acquired land to open a private cricket ground for the White Conduit Club, the forerunner of the famous MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club).


• Lord’s is currently in its third incarnation. The original stood where we now find modern day Dorset Square, with the second ground being moved by the development of the Regent’s Canal. Lord’s Mk.III as we know and love it today dates back to 1813



• Having already been evicted from two previous sites, Lord’s came under attack once more in the late 1880s when the Great Central Railway company, backed by an Act of Parliament, demanded that the Nursery End of the ground be bulldozed to make way for train tracks. The eventual solution was a tunnel beneath the ground. This cartoon (below) shows the famous W.G Grace leading the MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club) to do battle with the forces of progress…





• The famous Lord’s weathervane in the shape of Old Father Time is a reference to Law 16(3) of the Laws of Cricket: "After the call of Time, the bails shall be removed from both wickets."





• In the annals of Cricketit is well recorded that the first Test Match on English soil against the Australians took place in 1878. A less celebrated fact is that the Aussies took on the English at Lord’s and The Oval a full 10 years earlier. The first Aussie cricket side to tour England was an Aboriginal XI in 1868.









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Tuesday, 23 July 2019

The Daily Constitutional London Library No.7. Soho In The Fifties

Welcome to The Daily Constitutional London Library

In this ten-week series of posts I'll be drawing in literary fiction, popular fiction, graphic novels and non-fiction to create a reading list as disparate and inspiring as London itself. 

The 10 titles are linked in so much as each one features at least one London location – each post will also feature a map to one of the locations





No.7. Soho in the Fifties
By Dan Farson
(Pimlico 1987)


A work that rattles along with all the √©lan of a great novel, Daniel Farson’s Soho in The Fifties is an account of London’s most forgiving and tolerant quarter. It is told by that most unique of all Soho-ites: a man who was both there and who can remember he was there.

“Soho,” writes Farson, the great-nephew of Bram Stoker, “has always been a state of mind rather than a boundary.” And the minds that populate his narrative (the main section of which is structured as a 24-hours-in-the-life-of-Soho documentary) are some of the sharpest of the mid-20th Century. Artist Francis Bacon and journalist Jeffrey Barnard swagger through the narrative, rubbing shoulders with a picaresque gallery of characters who, while less celebrated on the international stage, remain Soho legends. Characters such as Norman Balon of the Coach and Horses (the man styled by Barnard as the Rudest Landlord in London) and Muriel Belcher, the √©minence grise of Dean Street and proprietress of the legendary watering hole The Colony Room.

Farson’s narrative even takes us a little further north of the 21st Century Soho, over Oxford Street to the area to which he refers to as North Soho (Fitzrovia today) to reveal licentious goings-on at the Fitzroy Tavern and in search of the painters Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde as they evade eye-watering bar bills all over W1. It’s a revealing insight: Soho has changed in shape as well as tone.

The great surviving characters of Soho are the pubs that serve as backdrop to the tale: The French House and the Coach and Horses remain in rude health in the 21st Century. “It’s ironic,” writes Farson of those Soho hostelries, "that Karl Marx and Logie Baird both lived in Soho, for politics and last night’s television are rarely discussed in Soho, though they are the mainstay in [most other] British pubs.”

Farson’s only oversight is the importance of music to this part of town. A forgivable omission given that the author moved in a world of letters and media; and one that is rectified with a peerless introduction by the late, great English jazz musician and writer George Melly. A rare treat: two great writers for the price of one.

(The edition illustrated is the Pimlico paperback from 1993)


One of the most prominent pubs mentioned in the book is The Coach & Horses. Still going strong having just won a fight against gentrification, you can find it here…








Next week… 

The Rats (1974)

By James Herbert









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Monday, 22 July 2019

The Monday Photoblog… Covent Garden

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… Covent Garden up close

Monty Python's Flying Plaque



Detail from the foyer of the Cambridge Theatre




This version of the sundial at the centre of Seven Dials dates from 1988 




The emblem of the St Giles – the parish in which Seven Dials can be found – is the wounded white hart




Neal's Yard – an oasis of alternative London, named for Thomas Neal, Master of the Mint to King William III






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.









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Saturday, 20 July 2019

My Tours Until The End Of This Month, July 2019

Adam writes…

All the scheduled public tours led by Adam Scott-Goulding for the famous London Walks company until the end of July 2019.


Tours last 2 hours and cost £10 for adults, £8 for students & seniors. 


Click the Book Your Tour buttons to pay & reserve your place. 

Bookings are handled via my online shop Pay A Tour. There are NO booking fees.





London Horror Story

Tuesdays 23rd & 30th July 2019
  

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…




The Rock'n'Roll London Pub Walk with LIVE Music

A rock & pop history tour with LIVE music from your guide

Wednesday July 24th & 31st  

Meet at Tottenham Court Road Tube (exit 1) 7pm





£10/£8 Pay on the day or book now…







Somewhere Else London


Tuesday 30th July


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…





Want to book a private tour? Get in touch!








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