After yesterday’s journey from Germany we didn’t wake up till 12.30pm today and as we were having breakfast Biggles and Colleen were having lunch. Today was our Abbey Road day. I lived in London for years, I grew up around Liverpool as a teenager, I worked in Liverpool after school, I had an elder brother who had all The Beatles records, Beatles, Beatles, Beatles, but I’d never been to Abbey Road. We walked out into a chilly sunny day (Colleen and Biggles told us that the morning had snow). We took the overground train from New Malden to Waterloo. When we got there we realized it was a big and beautiful Victorian station, originally opened in 1848 (rebuilt in 1922). This is the UK’s busiest station and was originally where the Eurostar was based until it moved to St Pancras in 2007. Apparently you can’t take pics here without permission, so I went to the station office and told them I had a blog. They asked me what it was called and gave me a visitor’s pass. All of a sudden, I felt like an insider.
The other reason I was hanging around here was because of one of the great sixties songs, The Kinks’ Waterloo Sunset (the station is mentioned in the lyrics). What a lot of people don’t know is that the song was originally written about Liverpool and was originally called Liverpool Sunset (Waterloo is also a place in the North of Liverpool). Ray Davies was apparently in love with Liverpool and Merseybeat in 1967, who wouldn’t be? We were on the way to Abbey Road and Beatles land but Waterloo station and memories of The Kinks’ classic song was a nice distraction.
We took the underground (Jubilee line) to St John’s Wood and stood on one of those long, long, long escalators, where you can hardly see the top. It looked old and I imagined The Beatles must have ridden it, I wondered if they’d considered their album cover shoot here, photographer at the bottom as they sailed down? We walked out of the station onto Grove End Road that leads to Abbey Road and there it was…the zebra crossing, the studio building and tons of nerdy tourists taking pictures and stopping the traffic.
It’s just incredible how famous this spot is, Beatles nuts from all over the world, young and old, breathing it in and trying to find gaps in the traffic to get their pic. Of course the cars have to stop and there’s the occasional impatient driver, but it’s just fun, how can you deny the nerds their fun. We hung around there for a while, took some pics of people taking pics.
Olivia helped a girl from Buenos Aires get her dream pic. We got talking to Gal, an Israeli girl who’s writing a PhD, she was there to observe! Ha ha, studying the nerds, I love it.
We left, passed by Sir Thomas Beecham’s old house and I noted that there’s a lot of Bentleys and Maseratis around here, and got the train to Piccadilly Circus. So many people. People in the stations on the tube, in the streets. You shuffle rather than walk in Central London. We passed by the flashing billboards and the famous statue of Anteros (it’s not Eros, it’s his brother Anteros). A busker was drawing a crowd playing that horrible Ed Sheeran Body song. We hurried by into Charing Cross Rd and went up to Cambridge Circus where I had a look in Fopp (record store). A good selection of new and reissued vinyl, generally reasonably priced, but not today. Everything was too expensive and that David Axelrod album Seriously Deep that I wanted, stayed in the racks. I couldn’t bring myself to buy The Slow Rush (Tame Impala), they’ve gone somewhere I don’t want to go. The collector in me wanted to add it to the other 3 vinyl records I have by them. I did buy Mind Hive, the new Wire album and Tramp by Sharon Van Etten.
We headed out back to Leicester Square on the way to Wagamama for some tasty ramen, but we made a little detour. Just off Leicester Square there’s a small French Catholic Church called Notre Dame de France, I discovered it years and years ago. I like to go in there, one for the contrast of the outside versus the inside, but mainly because there is a mural in there, painted by Jean Cocteau in 1959/60. It’s religious themed (obviously) and if you are a fan, a real secret treasure. I’ve been there many times to see it and finally got to share it with Olivia.
Wagamama is always good, we talked to Michael who we’ve seen there before, he looked us up, asked how the tour in Germany went.
We decided to go to Soho for a coffee and dessert and walked up Charing Cross Road through China Town (ate some taiyaki on the way) and found our way across Shaftesbury Avenue to Soho and went to Bar Italia (opposite Ronnie Scott’s) for a decaf and a Portuguese pastel de nata. Great place, always football on (duh, it’s Italian). Commentary in Italian, Arsenal were playing Olympiacos from Greece (we’d run across some of the Greek fans on the tube), second half just starting, Arsenal lost after extra time. It’s a big loss for them. We waved goodbye to central London and found ourselves on the train from Waterloo to New Malden. Got talking to Carlin and Steve (his brother is in quarantine in a Tenerife hotel), she was from Jamaica. People are nice, you just gotta be nice to them and they’re nice back.
Last but not least I have to tell you about Chris and Sharon. Chris was sitting in his wheelchair in Waterloo. I noticed he had a front wheel. I asked him what it was? I’d never seen that before. He told me an American man had been in hospital and seen people out of the window struggling across the grass in their wheelchairs and he thought there must be a better solution than this struggle. So he invented this front wheel which takes the two smaller front wheels off the ground and creates more traction in the back wheels and that in turn means that the ride is no longer bumpy on difficult services. True genius! On that note Good Night.