It’s Super Saturday or Independence Day for drinkers. Pubs reopen at 6am.
Recently a major incident was declared by police following mobs of crowds going to beaches. Not sure why the government chose a Saturday to throw open the doors to the UK’s thirsty drinkers. Seems at best unwise.
But then again as my friend James O’Brien just tweeted: ‘No air bridges, no app, the third highest death toll *in the world* & no end in sight… No wonder they’ve opened the pubs’.
Took the bike through the West End and up to Regents Park this morning.
I’d say about 60% of shops were open but almost no customers except for barbers and hairdressers. Short line outside the Apple Store. Lots of shop workers chatting on the pavement.
Like everybody else I made sourdough. Friend and neighbour Richard dropped off the ‘starter’ and this is the result. Upside: tastes good. Downside: takes about a week to produce. Sourdough need to call in the time and motion consultants.
Zoom has taken over the world. All my business meetings and chats with friends are now Zoomers. They need to re-release the Aretha Franklin song ‘Who’s zooming who?’
Last night we watched a play broadcast from the Old Vic. It came delivered by, you guessed it, Zoom.
The play Lungs by Duncan MacMillan stars Claire Foy (the Queen) and Matt Smith (Dr Who). An amazing, socially distanced two hander which I urge you to watch. It’s a torrent of dialogue; you are drenched in words. Claire Foy’s character is incredibly irritating, has no self-awareness, is deeply moving and hilarious all mixed up in the space of ninety minutes. Matt’s character has no emotional intelligence, but great hair. So strange to watch live theatre on a computer.
In the Autumn of 1977, I moved to London; I was 23 years old. I’ve lived here ever since except for an eight-year stint in Asia from 2007. During lockdown I’ve been roaming about on my bike taking pictures of the very different, almost empty, London that has appeared before us.
To set myself a goal I decided to visit all six addresses I’ve called home since I arrived in the capital and take a picture of myself in front of them. This is my home front, together with a little story or two.
Royal College Street, Camden N1 0RY
Full of fear and trepidation the decision was taken to move from Cropredy, a little village just outside Banbury in Oxfordshire, to London. We moved to a house share with my old friend James (well he’s old now) and various other young people kick starting their lives. The house had central heating which I’d never experienced before. James and I played bar billiards at the Old Eagle round the corner. The place wasn’t that much to look at then, but it looks in a right state now.
Broadhurst Gardens, West Hampstead NW6 3BE
After a year in Camden the first wife and I decided to rent in West Hampstead. We bought our first VHS video recorder. The night we got it, I managed to spill a glass of wine directly into the front where you loaded the tape. It had to be replaced, as indeed did the marriage.
Dukes Avenue, Muswell Hill N10 2PU
We bought this house for the princely sum of £84,000. I know this sounds like nothing now, but honestly at the time it was a king’s ransom; an unimaginable sum. We could only afford it because of generous help from the in-laws. The marriage broke down, I took to running around Alexandra Palace and ran away in 1983.
Ardleigh Road, Hackney N1 4HS
This one-bedroom flat cost me £15,000 in 1984. I had huge amounts of fun here for around ten years. It’s where I learnt to be young again. Flo did my ironing. When I went back to take this picture she was there, now 86 years old.
St Pauls Road Islington N1 2LJ
I owned a recording studio in St Pauls Road, hence the flat in Ardleigh Road. As you can see it’s now a Thai Restaurant. I didn’t live here, though there were some long nights. The studio was called the Red Shop and I ran it from 1980 to 1990 when I set out to do other things. My assistant was Robert Di Giuseppe, AKA Brains. Where is he now? I met some of my closest friends here, many of whom are my friends to this day.
Ufton Road N1 4HE
The future Mrs Preen decided that living in a one bed flat with me was more than any sane person could bear; we needed a house. I put the word out and wide-boy Barry stopped by and said words to the effect, yeah might have something. A day later he said pay £2k to this housing association and a house in highly desirable De Beauvoir can be yours for £400 a month. We didn’t ask too many questions. ABC News sent me skimming round the world and Mrs Preen worked her way around the national newspapers.
In 2001 we bought this house from one of Mrs Preen’s colleagues on her majesty’s Daily Express. It was derelict; we did it up. We got married and our daughter was born in 2003. We moved to Thailand in 2007 and came back in 2014. We are about to do the house up again. This is home.