The old chapel at Lincoln's Inn is one of the hidden delights of central London. It's open every day and visitors are welcome to wander round. The chapel's foundation stone was laid (by John Donne, then preacher at the Inn) in 1620. It has splendid stained glass which gives the place a touch of magic - especially when the sunlight dances on the reds, blues and mauves. The bulk of the stained glass consists of the crests of the treasurers of the Inn stretching right back, in best Hogwarts style, to 1680.
Roy Amlot is a distinguished Queen's Counsel and it would be entirely wrong to suggest that his crest in any way subverts the tradition of the inns of court. But it does stand out amid the lions rampant, elephants poursuivant, chevres, and all the other hallmarks of heraldry.
His crest appears to display a golden retriever, tongue out, lying on a windsurfing board - I'm sure there's a Latin-esque style of describing this ensemble, but it defeats me.
I would love to know more about Roy Amlot's crest, and indeed his dog. Debrett's records his interests as 'skiing, windsurfing, music and squash' - not bad for a QC in his mid-seventies. And I suppose Lincoln's Inn can be grateful that his crest doesn't display a capped and goggled barrister doing a downhill slalom.
I spent a very happy half-hour at the weekend at Janette Ray's second-hand bookshop in York - mainly architectural, buildings and planning - and came away with copies of two of the best regarded anarchist journals.
Now was edited by George Woodcock, and was taken under the wing of the Freedom Press in 1943. George Orwell was among the contributors during its short run. Also in the first issue: four drawings by John Olday - here's more about him - whose volumes of anti-war drawings, among them March to Death, were also published by the Freedom Press.
A generation later, Colin Ward started the most revered of libertarian journals, Anarchy - this issue, no. 5, is from July 1961, a quarter-of-a-century exactly after the start of the Spanish Civil War. It has a short poem by Herbert Read on the front cover.
Blustons is back!
It's back! The glory of Kentish Town high street has been reborn. It's fifteen months since Blustons - as traditional a purveyor of ladies' clothing (to men and women) as you could possible find - shut up shop. Since then this splendid, listed shopfront has had a forlorn look.
But it's now bounced back into business - and as a clothing store. A happier ending than any Kentish Towner had any reason to expect. There's no red-and-white polka dot dress in the window display, and are those male mannequins staring out on to the good people of NW5? -but then I suppose all things must pass.
The Camden New Journal is, of course, on top of the story - here is their interview with the new owner. When I passed by this afternoon there were rather more prospective customers in the shop than I ever saw in the old days ... so let's hope that the tills keep ringing at the new look Blustons.
My back pages
It's decades since I've done anything that could be described as 'craft' - but last weekend I went on a bookbinding for beginners course at the City Lit in Covent Garden. It was great. These items above were all my own work - paper cut and folded, covers designed, spine and cloth binding added, pages sewn, end papers pasted, all by my own fair hands. What about that!
There were nine of us in all, plus our tutor, the unfailingly patient and cheerful Sue Doggett. The photo below is of our collected works through the two days. It's the first time anything I've made has been exhibited since primary school. Come to think of it, not sure I got to that level of achievement even in primary school. So that makes it a lifetime personal best.
In a convent garden
That's how London's Covent Garden got its name. It was once the garden of a convent. Quite a few centuries back. But if you walk along Long Acre, you still see these plaques and busts on the north side of the street which - I was once confidently told - mark the boundaries of the old convent.
I suspect this is all sentimental tosh - but there is an interesting story all the same behind these rather grand (more regal than saintly, to my eyes) women who stare down on Long Acre.
Many of the properties on the north side of the street are owned by the Mercers' Company, one of the oldest of the livery companies of the Corporation of London. Indeed they own six blocks of property here - worth many tens of millions.
What's more, their website explains that: 'an interesting feature of the Mercers’ Company’s property is the tradition of placing a figure of the Mercers' Maiden, the Company’s badge, on its exterior'.
So these wonderful women are not about God but Mammon. Might have known! Still, I'm glad they have survived.
The Day of the Grateful Dead
'Come hear Uncle John's Band, by the riverside ...'. 5CDs of the Grateful Dead. Not by the Grateful Dead. All cover versions. It could be a nightmare - happily it's soul-stirringly wonderful.
The Day of the Dead was a gift for a recent 'significant' birthday. How significant? Well, work it out for yourself. I saw the Grateful Dead twice (so I was truly doubly blessed). The first time, I was still at school. A friend and I stayed the night at a cheap hotel at Finsbury Park and saw the Dead at Alexandra Palace. That would have been 1973, or possibly the following year. Then I went with two college friends to see them at The Rainbow in, curiously, Finsbury Park. I think we had just finished at college - if so, that would date the gig to 1977.
There's a huge range of styles of misc across these 5 CDs (released to raise money for HIV/AIDS awareness). And the musicians include: the wonderful Orchestra Baobab; Mumford and Sons; The National; Bela Fleck ...
'I know you rider, going to miss me when I'm gone ...'
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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