Wednesday, 17 February 2010

One million years EC

I was over in Holborn the other day. I used to work there, took it for granted and really miss it. I’m in Victoria now and there’s no comparison. In Holborn you’ve got Leather Lane featuring the Soho bookshop, I used to go in nearly every lunchtime (not down to the basement you understand) – such a chilled out shop, Nick Cave on the stereo, I think he’d had a joss stick on the go. Strutton Ground over in SW1 does alright for books with a very good Oxfam and a bargain books type place (both also tend to play good music as it happens).

Back on Leather Lane I didn’t notice if Farina’s café was still going – though I think it must be, its closure would have caused a noticeable disturbance in the Force. Up past Farina’s is Peter’s, which I suppose is another institution. I went there a few times but gave up in the end. The last time I’d given the barber (the man himself?) quite detailed instructions and he paused before giving a Gallic shrug and saying “What is this haircut? I don’t know this haircut?”. Life’s too short to get into disputes with barbers.

Right next door though is Bamalama Gallery. This excellent, and far less uptight shop is run by (at least) two very nice blokes. Every house should have a psychedelic concert poster on the walls and I’m going back very soon to sort out a copy of the Pink Floyd one there that I fell in love with. I’ll treat myself to a burrito at Daddy Donkey’s burrito stall as well – I had to pass it up the other day due to a lunch date at Poppin’s – not one of the all time greats, nice location (down an alley), nice big window, run by a fierce-until-she-gets-to-know-you-east-European lady. It's let down a bit by the food though.

I don’t want to completely run down SW1, while I’ve said previously that I prefer Farina’s I’m a very happy eater at the Regency. On the non-edible front there’s Wippell’s on Tufton Street. Utterly amazing garments, check out the Episcopal Regalia catalogue. Looking through the shop window (I’m not brave enough to go in) it looks like a shop for wizards. I’m not sure but are these outfits the only examples of clothing from antiquity still in (admittedly rarified) everyday use? It’s a pity we’re all too uptight to go around in embroidered cloaks.

And there’s The Prisoner’s house in Buckingham Place (the one where the man in the top hat gets him with the knock out gas) – I’ve been on a little pilgrimage there. But other than that there’s not much going on.


  1. I've worked in Holborn since last summer. Hated the idea at first - love it now. Covent Garden, Denmark St, British Museum, Gosh Comics are all a 15 minute walk away.

    Soho books - yes, an eye-opener down below

  2. I really never have been down into the basement, not through any moral high horsiness - just the sheer inevitability that if I did I'd be sure on my return upstairs to bump into a cousin or one of my wife's friends or my boss or some similarly awkward character.

    I used to go on some epic lunchtime wanders - the furthest east I got was around Minories, I turned a corner somewhere and saw Hawksmoor's Christ Church - quite freaked me at the time, very eerie. I'm currently exploring Pimlico but it just seems a bit of a stuccoed wasteland.

  3. I split my time between Holborn and Fenchurch St. The Minories is just around the corner, but then there's the Jack the Ripper territory, Spitalfields and Brick Lane a short hoof away.

    Have you done much around King's Road? I made a cut-out-and-keep guide to the area a couple of years back..worth checking if you're ever over that way.

  4. Cheers for that, very interesting. I’d managed to avoid King’s Road – when I used to drive to work I’d turn right into Edith Grove and onto the Embankment.

    Anyway – blog in action - fired by your post I strolled over this lunchtime (took me 25 minutes). I made out the Chelsea Drugstore, very tempted to pop in for a burger but I had to dash back really. I’ll revisit but on a Saturday I think. And when the weather’s better.

  5. Artog - you are more likely to bump into your cousin, one of my wife's friends or your boss DOWNSTAIRS than upstairs!! haha!

    Don't forget the Comic Museum just round the corner to British Museum and Gosh... well worth a look.


  6. The British Museum and comics - pretty much the first two things me and my brother demanded when we first used to come to London. Back in the days when Forbidden Planet was a cupboard on Denmark Street.

  7. I did go back and buy the poster and I did have a burrito afterwards, which was fantastic. But the trip was tinged with sadness - Farina's has in fact closed down.