LONDON Strolls … #1. Chelsea

LotsRd

On Revisiting the gentle London strolls of my Youth . . .

 

  1. CHELSEA

I leave, with joyous expectation, from Lots Road
to retrace one of my favourite London walks.
Stepping out brightly along the Kings Road
to the World’s End,
I soon move sprightly into Cheyne Walk.

I trip blithely along the Embankment to Albert Bridge,
from where I head purposefully along Royal Hospital Road.
Onwards then, slowing somewhat, to Chelsea Bridge Road,
thence to amble into Sloane Square,
from where I cross, a little hesitantly, to Brompton Road.

Soon I’m trying, unsuccessfully, to pick up the pace into Fulham Broadway. 
I cautiously stretch my legs past Stamford Bridge Football Ground.
Aching a little now, and wavering somewhat,
I head along the North End Road.
Eventually I stumble haltingly into Fulham Palace Road.

Bearing south, with a definite degree of stress now,
I continue to where, near Putney Bridge,
I take a left into the New Kings Road.
Gasping feverishly, I trudge past Parsons Green
until, breathing intemperately,
and desperate for liquid sustenance and my chaise longue,
I return, my curiosity both battered and sated,
but with undisguised relief, to Lots Road.

 

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Life Drawing Class

LifeDrawing

LIFE DRAWING CLASSES

Life drawing classes in Chelsea
The chance of a lifetime fulfilled
A chance to perfect my technique
I should’ve been delighted and thrilled.

But it wasn’t quite like that in practice;
Whilst I became more and more zealous
I found to my utter dismay
My fiancée grew terribly jealous.

So I gave up these classes to please her,
My art took a secondary place
To a contented future with landscapes.
Yes, I gave in to her whims – just in case.

So, I never will be a Paul Rubens,
And Lucien Freud’s not for me.
I timidly gave in to persuasion,
All governed by wifely decree.

 

asterisk1a

FencePainting

Cartoon – Acknowledgement to artist unknown.  The other 4 sketches are my own – WHB  ©

asterisk1a

… And Then There Were Four

londonembankment-19c1

London, Victoria Embankment, late 19th Century … Pen & Wash – WHB – 2014

Late autumn evening
treading wet leaves
on the broad embankment
 beside the dark river;
starry sky
and the pavement spotted
with lights
dark pools between
those balustrade sentries
the eighty year old
yablochkov candles
(the country’s very first

electric street lights)
still throwing the trees’ shadows
across the road
to Victoria’s gardens.

Perhaps memory twists my tale;
mike, dave, wally, ray,
with me five of us,
fresh lads
freshers too
up from the far country
to study
to see the big city
to re-start a life
men now
together
soliciting knowledge
tempting experience.

Interned for a Chelsea month,
then the anticipated incursion,
our first excursion
into the great city
set for new challenges
no plan
just exploration;
for the moment
nothing cerebral
just life in the moment
flâneurs

awaiting a happening
neophytic
greenhorns.

Walking where Victoria walked,
or did she ever really
enjoy her gardens by the river?
thrilling evening
walking that promenade,
drinking the sights
eating the sounds
devouring the smells and tastes
soaking up the river
and the beer,
Victoria’s Embankment Gardens.

We didn’t know it then
nor did any of us suspect
it was to be ray’s swan song
sweet Thames run softly
and be his swan song.

Turned up Villiers Street,
Kipling’s and Evelyn’s street,
tumbled into The Trafalgar,
seedy then,
well, rare student prices,
waitress in black and white
I remember
the white cap with lace
and black band
the tiny white apron
on black dress
alluringly short
wiping her hands
by rubbing them seductively
on her aproned thighs,
“what can I get you lads?”
… ribaldry …
ray “what time do you finish?”
… her answer
no more than a half-smile;

After the spam fritters
and the glorious knickerbockers
and more small pink hands
attentive hands
rubbed clean
on lacy white apron,
ray’s eyes never taken off them
then drinks
nothing heavy.

Ray fell
must have done
from a great height
smitten I would say
to his adam’s apple core,
eyes only for a pretty face
and those lacy edges.

Conversation ricocheted
across the tables
voices spurted out their verbiage
as those yablochkov candles
expended their light,
more raucous than uncouth.

Then the attempt to close
to dispense with customers
we head for the street
ray stays in his seat
“’bye chaps, I’ll see you.”

… But he never did.

Nor we him.
Ever again.

victoria-embankment-flickr

The Thames Embankment is a work of 19th Century civil engineering which reclaimed marshy land next to the River Thames in central London.  It follows the North Bank of the river from Westminster Bridge to Blackfriars Bridge.

The Victoria Embankment Gardens , built also in the latter part of the 19th Century, separate the embankment and the road running alongside from the buildings on the south side of Whitehall, Trafalgar Square and The Strand.

Villiers Street is a short connecting thoroughfare, now mainly pedestrianised, running from the Thames Embankment and Embankment underground Station uphill to the Strand, Charing Cross Mainline Railway Station  and Trafalgar Square.  It contains many restaurants and eating establishments.
The Trafalgar Café, however, can no longer be found there.

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