A wonderful sunny autumn weekend - ideal for wandering around London. The photo above was taken close to Granary Square, the development on the site of the King's Cross goods yard. There's oodles of artificial grass on the Granary Square canal bank - but that isn't artificial grass in the photo, it's the Regent's canal. Completely choked with vivid green algae. I am sure some toddler is going to jump on to it thinking it's a football pitch.
Nearby the St Pancras Cruising Club (yes, you've got that right!) was having an open day - they keep their narrow boats in the St Pancras basin nearby. And they have as their club rooms the entirely wonderful St Pancras Water Point, originally providing water for steam trains and relocated (what a huge task!) to save it from demolition as part of the area's regeneration.
It's been Open House weekend - and I've popped into a couple of awesome architect designed houses in NW5, the Burton House at the bottom of Lady Margaret Road and artists' studios hidden away on Rochester Place.
And walking at the back of St Giles-in-the-Fields I saw that the Elms Lesters Painting Rooms - built as painting studio in 1904 - were open, so I popped in. I've always been curious about the place, But it wasn't part of Open House - it was hosting 'a curation of the rising stars of the London fashion scene'. And my point and click was the most basic camera in sight, by at least £2k:
And then a quick visit to the 'Clouds' installation, thousands of differently sized whte balloons at the Covent Garden piazza. A really successful example of public art.
On my walkabout I noticed that St Martin's Gospel Oak, with its recently restored pinnacle and tower, was looking particularly splendid in the autumn sun. Don't you agree?
I don't claim to be a great photographer - but I guess when you capture hundreds of images, simply the law of averages means a few have something special about them. See what you think ...
So depressing - Ripping Yarns, the wonderful second-hand bookshop near Highgate tube, is closing . Sunday will be the last trading day. The rent has doubled, and just to make them feel that little bit more special, the increase has been back-dated a couple of years.
So one of the last of those 'fun to delve' bookshops, which treasure pamphlets and poetry and radical squibs and old music papers, bites the dust. There's Walden Books in Chalk Farm still going, and Black Gull in East Finchley just about qualifies, but not much else in this part of north London.
Ripping Yarns has specialised in children's and illustrated books - but I've always relished it as a haven for radical tracts and old socialist titles. I've bought dozens of gloriously tatty old political pamphlets there. Today's purchase, no doubt my last, is entitled Mail Interception & Telephone Tapping in Britain, put out half-a-century ago by the Hampstead Group of the Committee of 100 - it cost me less than the price of a pint.
The shop was set up decades ago by Celia Hewitt - she's still very much around, indeed she was on the stage at the Jeremy Corbyn Night at The Forum on Monday reading poems by her late husband, Adrian Mitchell. There's a lovely account of the history of the shop here written by one of its staff. It's a shop with personality - which is not something you can say of most of the Oxfam bookshops, however much they are appreciated.
The Ripping Yarns website says the business will continue online. That's great - but it's not quite the same!
Here's a wonderful piece of political ephemera which I chanced upon in Janette Ray's secondhand bookshop in York yesterday. It's a spoof mourning card marking a moment of political vengeance - the defeat in the Lancashire constituency of Westhoughton of the sitting Conservative MP, Edward Stanley, in the 1906 'Liberal landslide' general election.
Stanley had been the Postmaster General in the outgoing Conservative government and had notoriously castigated postal workers wanting a pay rise as parasites and bloodsuckers. Not surprisingly, that insult rankled.
The seat was won by the Labour candidate, W.T. Wilson, who ascribed his victory to Stanley's contemptuous attitude towards trades unions and working people. As the result was announced, a crowd sang:
Good-bye Stanley dear, good-bye
Good-bye Stanley dear, don't cry
You're a bloodsucker so true
And we've had enough of you
Good-bye Stanley dear, good-bye
'Bloodsucker' Stanley hadn't 'departed this political life' however. In 1908 he inherited the title of Earl of Derby and in later years served twice as Secretary of State for War and was also Britain's ambassador to France.
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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