Well, as 'beware' signs go, this is refreshingly different. And there were inded dangling caterpillars ahead, thousands of them all over this tree -
This is Camley Street Natural Park in the heart of London, just north of St Pancras station. It's tiny, just two acres; a former coal yard on the banks of the Regent's Canal, recently refurbished and back as a delightful pocket-size nature reserve.
And those caterpillars - well, they are spindle ermine moth caterpillars, since you ask!
There's lots of other reasons to visit this charming haven of peace and wildlife - today I saw reed warblers, which I was quite chuffed about.
And even in such a tiny area there's meadow, wetlands, reed beds, and a dead wood area ... plus a half decent cafe!
FOR A CLOSE-UP OF 'HEADOPOLY' HEAD HERE:
The hardback first edition of Richard Neville's Playpower - the book by the co-founder of Oz - included in a slip in the back cover a fold-up poster come Monopoly spoof. This is it. Headopoly!
The book was published in 1970. And the poster is a chronicle of the 1960s counter-culture in the form of a board game (not that anybody was expected to roll the dice - more roll the spliff ...)
It's worth a close look ...
As you can see, it's an intricate and beautiful thing, designed by Rolling Stone's Jon Goodchild.
Neville told the story in his memoir, Hippie Hippie Shake:
'Playpower was rushed into production. ... All that was left to do now was to complete the artwork for a full-colour poster, to be inserted in each copy. This seemed an innovative way to present a series of significant dates, gleaned from the research. I had contacted Jon Goodchild at his new Rolling Stone office in San Francisco, and he came up with a way to make the poster work as a game as well as a reference tool.
'Jon airfreighted the artwork to London, where it was impounded. A caption contained the phrase ‘Fuck Communism’. I rushed to the airport, bowed and scraped, and somehow convinced the Customs officers that this was a work of scholarship. Which it was. Jon had divided the huge sheet into tiny rectangles, each one representing a month of the year, for the past five years. The game was called Headopoly. Players could traverse the board with counters, aided by instructions in the squares, e.g. August ’69: in Belfast, Bernadette Devlin MP admits throwing petrol bombs at police; miss a Go.
'With a golfball typesetter on the dining-room table, Jim and I updated the board, right up to the final square, 10 December ’69: Senator Edward Kennedy disclosed that in the last four years, over a million civilians had been killed or wounded in Vietnam.
'Felix Dennis came by to assist Jim and me with the fiddly bits of paste-up, flourishing cowgum and scalpels, while Louise took it easy on the bed with a joint, Let It Bleed on the turntable, delighted that this was absolutely the last night of my authorial outpourings. ...
'It was three in the morning by the time Headopoly was finished and the lid was back on the cowgum. Felix asked to crash on the floor. At dawn, with everyone still sound asleep, I crept out of the flat into the drizzle, lugging the artwork off to a laboratory run by the Defence Department in a hard-to-find industrial zone. Specialists in aerial reconnaissance maps, they possessed the only camera in England capable of dealing with the complexities of Jon’s design.'
The striking jacket design, by the way, was the work of the Australian artist Martin Sharp - pity it wasn't used for the paperback too.
A May Day visit today to a second-hand book sale at the Marx Memorial Library on Clerkenwell Green, where I came across four wonderful political song books.
The most interesting is People's Parodies, published in 1938. The parodies were the work of Rufus Hogg - which might have been a pseudonym for Randall Swingler - with illustrations by the Daily Worker cartoonist, Gabriel. This sort of thing -
I can't imagine the parodies were much sung - but they do raise a smile
And the striking orange cover has a Gabriel drawing of Neville Chamberlain being done over by Mr Punch - who's a pretty boy, then!
No, not that Jericho. And not that Freud. But altogether splendid.
Where better for the Holy Spirit to reside once a church is deconsecrated than in a cocktail bar! This is the rather wonderful Freud's in what was once St Paul's parish church' on Walton Street, so in the Jericho district of North Oxford.
The building dates from the 1830s - very classical in design, much like a Roman temple. And the sandstone has been bashed about a bit over the decades, which makes you wonder at first glance if this really was once a Roman temple.
But a board inside the bar quickly puts you right ...
Actually this was the first church in Oxford (not England) to be built since the Reformation - and then only if you turn a blind eye to the rebuilding of one or two of the churches in the town centre.
The land was once part of the burial ground of the Radcliffe Infirmary. The church was built particularly to serve the Jericho area, which was being built in part to accommodate workers at the Oxford University Press. But in the 1860s, Jericho got another church - the wonderful Anglo-Catholic St Barnabas - which is still going strong. So Jericho was over-supplied with parish churches.
The two parishes combined in the 1960s, and St Paul's - in some disrepair - closed as a place of worship. The organ and statues were removed, but the stained glass and some of the memorial plaques are still there and give the building a real sense of distinction.
An attempt to revive the building as an arts centre was short-lived, and Freud's has been based here since the late 1980s and it's still a great place for a margarita.
And all this Frevd with a 'v' stuff? Well, that's just psevdo-classical bvllshit if yov ask me.
Have you ever seen a bridge over a fast-running stream where water flows away from the bridge but there's nothing on the other side. It's the riverine equivalent of the one-hand clap.
Have a look at the video and you will see what I mean. This is Job's Mill at Sutton Veny outside Warminster in Wiltshire - a wonderful 17th century house with exceptional grounds and gardens.
This map shows the bridge where the river flows 'out' but not 'in'. And I think it also explains what's happened. It's all about the old mill.
The River Wylye here has two parallel routes. I suspect the one on the right is a mill race - a channel created to take some of the river water to power a water mill. Part of that slipstream has either been culverted or covered over since the mill went out of service to add to the elegance of the garden at Job's Mill. And hey presto, this part of the river comes up for air again underneath the bridge.
But it is a startling scene - one side of the bridge is all grass, and the other is a river, and a lively one, Not a pond but a flowing stream. Fancy that!
This column of red granite at the City of London cemetery near Ilford pays tribute to three police officers shot dead while trying to stop an armed robbery of a jeweller's shop by Latvian political emigres.
The burial plots of Sergeant Charles Tucker and Sergeant Robert Bentley lie side-by-side. The third policeman, Constable Walter Choat, is buried at Byfleet.
The three police officers died late on the evening of 16 December 1910. Never before had three London police officers been killed in the same incident - and it has only happened once since.
Inscriptions on the column reveal that the wife and son of Sergeant Tucker are also buried here. So too is the three-year old son of Sergeant Bentley, who was born five days after his father died. Tragedy on top of tragedy.
On the centenary of the killings, the Corporation of the City of London placed a memorial plaque - rather anonymous and easily missed - close to the site of the shootings on Cutler Street.
The would-be robbers were revolutionary expropriators. They were seeking to burrow in to the back of a jewellery shop at 119 Houndsditch from what was then Exchange Buildings. As well as the three police officers who died, one of the robbers suffered fatal injuries when shot by accident by an associate.
In this 1913 map, Exchange Buildings is marked in pink.
Although all the buildings from that era have gone from the area around the scene of the shootings, the street lay-out hasn't changed, and nor has the numbering of buildings on Houndsditch. 119 Houndsditch is now part of a Starbucks!
While Exchange Buildings has long gone, there's a yard with an entrance from Cutler Street which marks the spot.
In the photo below, the full length window is at the back of Starbucks. This was also very probably the location of the back wall of the jeweller's shop in 1910.
Exchange Buildings - three storeys with a single room on each floor and a tiny back yard with a sink and an outside loo - would have stood on this small car park space.
When police tried to find out why there was banging and drilling late on as Friday night, the expropriators came out firing. Just here!
Two weeks later, two of the gunmen were tracked down to a room in Stepney and perished in what became known as the Siege of Sidney Street. But that's another story ...
At the heart of Highgate. there's a charming burial ground that hardly anyone knows about. It's a lot older than the much celebrated Highgate Cemetery nearby - a lot easier to get to - and while it's small, very small, it is peaceful and a place to commune with the past.
What more could you ask for!
This is the small graveyard adjoining Highgate School chapel. It's just by the more southerly of the two mini-roundabouts in Highgate village.
The photo below may help you get your bearings. It's taken from the top of Highgate High Street. On the left is the mock Tudor 'The Gatehouse', a well-regarded theatre-cum-pub - North Road runs between The Gatehouse and Highgate School; then there's the red brick flank wall and tiny spire of the school chapel; and on the right is Southwood Lane which runs towards Highgate tube and Muswell Hill.
'Sacred / to the memory of / Isabella / daughter of the late / Robert Langford Esq of Highgate / and wife of / Lieutenant General Robert Cannon / who departed this life / on the 12th of January 1854 / in the 27th year of her age ...'
- and also to the memory of their daughters: Helen, who died in infancy in 1850, and Amy Josette, who died in Constantinople in 1854, aged 3.
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Arthur Conan Doyle
Boundary Street Estate
Burston Strike School
China In London
'Cohen The Crooner'
Curious Kentish Town
Dorothy 'Dorf' Bonarjee
English Civil War
Faiz Ahmed Faiz
Fiction As History
George E. Harris
George 'Jonah' Jones
Grand Union Canal
India In London
Land And Labour League
Lost And Starving Dogs
Marques & Co.
Museum In Docklands
National Secular Society
Riff Raff Poets
Sir Francis Burdett
Sir Frederick Sykes
Spanish Civil War
Stairway To Heaven
Steptoe And Son
Vale Of Health
William John Pinks