Out and about in London town


So that’s where he’s been all my life!  Obviously, THE love of my life has been suffering from a fear of floors or standing upright, or something!

No, just kidding. He is clearly made of molded, off-white polycarbonate and is part of an exhibition.  I found him hanging out at the British Library.  At the ‘Out of this World’, science fiction exhibition (running until end Sept 2011 www.bl.uk/sciencefiction ).  I was meeting up with the ‘people who enjoy culture’, to wander around the exhibit with them.

My mind was spinning faster than a speeding UFO (hmmn, maybe they move REALLY slowly though…who knows?). On show was book, after book, after book of science fiction that after time became science fact.  Spooky!  What was Arthur C Clarke on?!  Does the fiction put the idea into the creative minds of others or does the fiction foresee the future?  What would you prefer to believe?  One of the books, written years ago foretold the use of computers to read books WAY before it’s time.  This one looks interesting too

I added so many sci-fi books to my reading list that I will have to invent the elixir of life to get time to read them all! 

The library is beautiful and FREE.  It is a privilege to have amazing amenities like this.  The architecture is stunning, though I’d prefer more of a Modernist structure, personally.  It houses 180 million books and over 625 km of shelves to hold them.  This grows by 12 km every year.  That’s a whole lotta Ikea flat packs!

Onwards.  After a quick chat in the pub with my fellows I walked on over to The Thames Festival (www.thamesfestival.org).  It was spilling out all over the Southbank and stretched down as far as Tower Bridge.

The 800ft stretch of the Southwark bridge is furnished with the longest dinner table I’ve ever seen.  Lots of happy people.  Every corner of the gastronomic globe hung and drifted above us in an aromatic arc.  A hot-diggity band played among the yellow haystacks, the lead singer was an old-timer from some British soap from back in the day when I watched them and my mind got temporarily polluted with the stuff (NOT something I miss!).

The following day, not content to sit at home in the green, green grass of home.  I tripped into London to meet up with the culture hungry again.  This time to Kennington, a suburb of London and the birthplace of that raggedy Lord of the funny walks….Charlie Chaplin.

Robert, our knowledgable and fun guide

Sir Charles Spencer “Charlie” Chaplin, KBE (16 April 1889 – 25 December 1977) was an English comic actor, film director and composer best known for his work during the silent film era.[2] He became the most famous film star in the world before the end of World War I. (thanks Wikipedia! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Chaplin)

 I wasn’t really fan of CC, I went along for something to do…and I like a good story.  After two hours walking around from CC landmark to landmark I gained a lot of respect for the scrawny chap.

10 new things I learnt about Charlie Chaplin.

1.He had a half-brother who became his manager.

2.He worked for a year, age 5 in a London Lambeth workhouse.  Six days a week with a day off on Sunday, when he got to spend time with his mum Hannah (she lived and worked in a separate block)

3.His publican Uncle taught Charlie to tap dance on the trap door outside the pub The Queens Head,  where Charlie waited in vain hope for his drunken father to come and take notice of him.

4.When he was a tiny lad Charlie tugged on the coat tails of a stage compeer who was calming the audience after his mothers beautiful voice failed her, along with her mind.  The divorce from Charlie’s father (she had an affair that gave Charlie his 2nd half-brother), the workhouse stress and strain strangled her.  She spent the rest of her life in and out of mental institutions (in those days they basically threw away the key).

5.The inspiration for his iconic ‘drunken Lord’ character was the result of all of those hours waiting outside his Uncle’s pub and watching the men staggering in and out sloshed.

6.His understudy in the acting troupe that took him to his new life in the USA was set to become a star in his own right..Mr Stan Laurel! (that really was a FINE mess he got himself into!)

7.Mr Chaplin did all his own script writing, production, editing etc and legend has it that a final scene, lasting just a few minutes where he goes in to kiss his heroine, took 300 takes!  Dogged perfectionism!

8.When movies began to add talking (The Jazz Singer) to film back in 1927… many actors, who had glorious success and fame in the silent movie, failed because the reality of their actual voice popped film-goers bubble when they didn’t match up to the imagination.  Charlie never really hit the successes again he’d experienced in his silent movies.  However, he had already amassed a HUGE fortune and a walk that most people recognise  when emulated by any half-baked attempt by someone at a costume party.

9.His film The Great Director, portraying Hitler, made as an act of mini move anarchy against the dictator apparently was actually enjoyed by Hitler (not the effect Charlie had sought his film to have).

10.On 1 March 1978, his corpse was stolen by a small group of Swiss mechanics in an attempt to extort money from his family.[45] The plot failed; the robbers were captured, and the corpse was recovered eleven weeks later near Lake Geneva. His body was reburied under 6 feet (1.8 m) of concrete to prevent further attempts.

God, I hope I remembered that all ok.  Can’t believe my attention held for so long.

The walk ended with a cup of tea in the very pub owned by his Uncle and an impromptu sing-song knees up with a fellow walker down Lambeth Walk (show tune from way back?!…..no, they hadn’t heard it either and sadly many of the group thought we’d lost the plot).

Keeping in mind my previous posts and ongoing research about popularity and our human need for love, it would seem that Charlie Chaplin found this, through his acting career and the screen character he created whilst seeking his fathers affection.  What goes around comes around?


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2 Responses to Out and about in London town

  1. Feather Ives says:

    I love this post. You’re very funny. I too haven’t spent much time watching Charlie Chaplin which is a shame because I consider myself a filmmaker and film lover. Sounds like a lovely. I loved London. I can’t wait to return and spend more than four days there. xo

  2. Feather Ives says:

    Sounds like a lovely day I should say.

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