The day I became a burlesque retailer

camden market Camden market isn’t somewhere I have ventured since the mid eighties.

Back then we drifted into Chalk Farm Road like a gaggle of hollow looking wood nymphs with attitudes that fitted our black gothic complexions. In those days you were thought to cool if you could sum up in one brief sentence what The Cure records were all about. Nowadays you camden gothswould lucky if you could find a trendy youth who would even know who The Cure were.

Whilst wandering around like someone who has just stepped off an alien spacecraft like they have never seen Earth before, I came across a shop called Black Widow. It spoke to me and said ‘you remember dressing like this don’t you?’ I noticed the black steampunk basque and layered frills and dresses and it felt like a long forgotten home.

alice at black widowI stepped inside and was met by Alice, a pretty, young thing who worked in the shop since stepping out of a former life.

She is writing a book, she tells me.  It is going to be about the history of Camden Market.  Her interest leapt as soon as I said I had be venturing here for almost thirty years.  She was keen to interview me, but first, customers were drifting into the shop and it was my turn to wait and serve.

There is something to be said about attending a shop with is covered from ceiling to floor in black steampunk gothic attire.  It is probably what I would have given my eycarnaby1980se, teeth and O levels for back in the day. here, I felt old, but not old in a George Burns sort of way but like Stevie Nicks since she turned 50 – a matriarch figure, all-wise, mysterious and all-knowing.  It suited me.  I think if I ever give up the day job (which is also my night job and weekend venture) I will open up a shop like Alice’s and sell all the dresses, cloaks and thigh length boots I would have been seen in, in 1987.

batcaveI urge you to take the Northern line to Camden Town and sample the delights of this cultured town.  It hums with social interaction (in a very pleasant way) and is the hub of all things trendy, youthful and avant garde.

For those of you who were like me and hung around shop doorways looking miserably cool in Carnaby Street, don’t dishearten yourselves by standing in a boutique all punksair-conditioned and playing Backstreet Boys, remembering the good times, go to Camden Market where, I promise you, from every walk of life, you will feel right at home….

hugh dennis

The day I bumped into Hugh Dennis


hugh dennisA trip up to the big smoke for me consists of taking a measure of personal safety risk. If I ever stopped and transmitted powerful thought signals to my beloved mother of my exact whereabouts, she would probably drop in an instant panic calling the river police and the Flying Squad as she plunged.

But I have found that the older I’ve got, the braver I’ve become.

I can think of no happier place than to be wandering along the seedier end of delightful Borough and chat casually to market traders as the serve the most extraordinary smelling Paella imaginable.

What I have discovered since regaining consciousness and reluctantly joining the 21st century, is way personal technology has governed our lives. I am a fairly average 43 year old with a life so far to shout about yet shove a pair of Apple headphones in my little ear-lets and I am singing and slipping along London Bridge like I am in my own movie. I often wonder what Hugh Dennis must have thought when I very unwittingly walked straight into him whilst adjusting James Blunt’s volume. (Apologies Mr Dennis.) I can see the headline now ‘mad middle aged woman injures TV celebrity whilst being attacked through her headphones’. I can safely blame my teenage son for allowing his absent minded mother to download brain numbing Pokemon soundtracks onto her iPod. Sigh. It’s hopeless. I appear to be getting old!

Moving on.

southwark boat disasterPerhaps the most sobering moment of the day was discovering the plaque dedicated to the 51 young victims of the Marchioness disaster in August 1989. Fresh flowers still frame the giant stone in the floor. The reason for it being at Southwark Cathedral is because the pleasure boat struck the neighbouring bridge which led to the fatal incident where these partying youngsters, most of them under the age of 25, lost their lives.

Also, you will find in the church includes the memorial to William Shakespeare. Look above and you will see a stained glass window in memory of the vast expanse of theatre he gave. I managed to find King Lear and Hamlet but struggled to figure out the rest. I have to admit, a stiff neck got the better of me so if you spot Twelfth Night, be sure to let me know. Naturally on a few yards from The Globe, many of the players of the Shakespeare stage are buried here too. I was helpfully informed by one of the volunteers there that ‘there are some Romans round the back’ of the cathedral. I had to think for a minute and wonder exactly what he meant…

Southwark cathedral is a beautiful place of quiet tranquillity although a victim itself of thesouthwark cathedral force of industry rising up from the ground around it. As you walk from the grounds, one exiting the building, look up and you will be greeted by the imposing tower of The Shard. It is a stark reminder of London in the future with London of the past behind you.

One of my favourite haunts is the Victoria and Albert museum at South Kensington. A quick few minutes trip up the circle/district line and you’re immediately in the land of history both in artefact and planetary. Deep, surface wandering, aimlessly strolling with aching feet. Which ever one you like.

Victoria and albert museum in londonA visitor from overseas will be presented at first glance how proud Britain is of its heritage and culture not to mention its relationships with far distant lands. The V and A is a walk through the most extreme art and human presence on Earth that I defy any man, woman or child not to feel a strong sense of privilege to be a part of the human race.

There is no sinister ism here (well, apart from the Samurai warrior suits perhaps,) nothing that represents the evil from within one mans actions against another. It is an eclectic collection of what mankind got right it its history on planet Earth.

If we ever destroy ourselves in nuclear balls up then please, universe, let the V and A survive so that visiting living beings from other planets can see that we didn’t louse it up all of the time, just some of the time….

My London. A passion of childhood

My love of London comes from my childhood in Wimbledon. Coming from the country, London was exciting. The high street was the place where you got butterflies. Lights, noise, people, buses; everything to a small child not used to this mad world is an attack on the senses. It was a place of warmth to me. A friendly place where my grandparents lived, despite the thousands of cold strangers moving through the town with no thought for a small, wide eyed child in awe of this craziness around her. It was home to me even though home was actually a cosy, sweet village where a car passing through could be heard a mile away.

I was fixated with the department store in Wimbledon. Elys had stood opposite the Alexander pub for hundreds of years. Well, it seemed old and big. The counters towered above me. It was the first time in my life when I noticed a grown up world where tall beings were polite to each other. Nothing bad happened there for me. It was utopia. Heaven. And the place I still go back to even today when the world seems black.



The ghosts of Underground London – how Aldwych still haunts the city today…

city hall train stationWe have a curiosity for the unknown, the intangible and the lost.  It is within our human psyche to show a deep interest in ghosts.  Anywhere is appropriate, but perhaps nothing more creepy and spine chilling that an abandoned London underground station… and there is plenty to choose from.

Under the bustling streets of London town lies a myriad of tunnels, railway lines and forgotten networks of once busy tube stations. Some are talked about.  Some you can even go and visit with a hard hat and a torch on guided tours, but there are others who people don’t talk about, and have not been seen by the human eye for generations.

Perhaps the most talked about is Aldwych.  Opening in 1907, it was originally called, The Strand station.  Nothing else to report other than it has played host to many films and television programmes over the years because of its untouched and beautiful Victorian architecture.  Featuring in the Battle of Britain and more recently, Mr Selfridge, it has been also the focus on Most Haunted when the team were accompanied with Derek Acorah and a very nervous film crew!

Closing in 1994, it was a station I certainly remember using in my teens.  It is open to guided tours a few days in the year but these can get booked up in advance. The tour is not for the faint hearted either, and you need to be ok with the dark, creepy and areas of the disused Aldwych stationclaustrophobic atmosphere!

Yet if it wasn’t for these tube stations – closed or otherwise, then thousands of lives would have not been saved during the Blitz in the Second World War.  They were somewhere to hide, together with friends and families and sit out the bombs dropping all around them.  They were also the place of happier times, where people sang songs to keep their spirits up during the air raid….

Perhaps, it’s these songs that still echo around Aldwych to this day….

The London Goers handbook to life, society and bits of the best stuff

Sex in The City – It’s all over London!

london at night I love London. There is no place on earth that can make you feel cultural and sleazy all At the same time. But whilst thumbing through today’s Evening Standard, I had to ask myself what this evidently yet bottom slappingly good intellectual read has come to. There. I said it. A complete sentence of double entendres and innuendos which may now give the game away. I could not flick through this delightful, inky publication without seeing sex sex sex everywhere.

We seem to be obsessed with the little word. If it’s not the base theme of london vintage newspapera ‘come to life’ robot film, its discussing the ins and outs of a ducks behind, or indeed in this case, teenagers. I was more than warmed in a stirring sort of manner to see majesty and the duke of Edinburgh on page 35. It is enough to choke violently on a finger slice. That and the passing of the Saudi king forcing our petrol pumps to rocket over £1.20 a litre.

ES! What are you doing to our world? Where is the mindless passage on some obscure ballet we need to see as our lives depend on it? Where is the tales of a minor channel four cookery celeb Lost in the lush mountains of Italy with his wife and irritatingly perfect children by his side? I don’t to read about teenage bottom banging or how sex in the city was not a controversial view of young women in modern society but half an hour every week when attractive ‘got it all girls sat about talking about how many times they’ve done it with the office lawyer.

This is the modern age featuring a diverse community in every corner of the globe. Women are taking control of their lives and eventually seeking equality in every one of those corners.

Well, that’s the plan….

#eveningstandard #sexinthecity #teenagers #London #nightlife