Current Essays

Lansdowne Ho! On:2005-11-03 05:03:37

Last time I'm afraid that I was rather down on modern technology, so (in the interests of being fair, and balanced, and other boring, politically correct rubbish) let me start by extolling the wonders of Apple's iSight1 camera ---thingy that lets me talk to my parents back in England and to see them too and all for free (well free once you've shelled out a few thou. for the computers and a couple of hundred for the iSights, oh yes, and the hundred bucks-ish we pay between us every month to our ISPs--but apart from that it is all free!!---come to think of it it's really much more expensive than the old phone system, but I do get to see them---if they happen to have remembered to point the damn camera in the right direction, so actually I mainly see about half my father's face and most of my mother's hair, but it's so nice to get close like that isn't it?)

Anyway the other day they told me about an oldish movie they had seen on the box (you'd be surprised at how quickly you run out of really important things to say when communication is this easy and this free). The film was (if I remember aright) called "Please Sir!" and, since it was a spin-off of a Television comedy, the only memorable thing about it, and the reason for my parents' remembrance of it to me, was the fact that right at its beginning it had a scene of children walking (theoretically to their school) right past the flat in Primrose Hill where I was living at the time of its creation!

Chalk Farm

Now the really interesting thing about the street they chose for this scene, apart from the fact that W B Yeats had earlier been living around there (and had a blue commemorative plaque2 to prove it) and that I was then currently doing so (and didn't); and something moreover that is vital to the ongoing discussion of whether Truth is Beauty or Beauty Truth (even though that was Kate's rather than Yeet's---I mean Keats rather than Yeats) was that, though within the diegesis of the movie they were on their way to school, in reality they were on their way to run slap bang into a high brick wall in a dead end, and would have had to pull up sharp almost as soon as they stepped out of frame. And even if they could have forced their way through that wall all they would have got would have been a sharp short lesson in the school of hard knocks about the interplay of inertia and momentum and the trains that hurtle along the other side of that wall on their way up North from Euston. Now that I think of it their only alternative to the pain of the tumbling bricks and the crushing diesel engines of doom would have been to nip into the Lansdowne Pub (which is just on the corner) for a quick pint (or, since they were all actors or at least extras in a movie, a very large whisky---and keep them coming).
Ahh! the Lansdowne Pub: just off of Primrose Hill, in Chalk Farm, in London, boy that takes me back!
In my day the Lansdowne was a pub renowned for miles around for its exotic dancers. Now, now it wasn't a club or anything crass like that, no, it was just an ordinary pub where anybody over the age of eighteen, or whatever the drinking age was then (which in theory would exclude at least some of those school-child-playing extras), could go and be, if that's the right word, regaled. Ahh! And I remember, I remember how this place changed over time. It started off well enough with amateur exotic dancers, quite young and potentially attractive exotic dancers, exotic dancers dancing on top of an old grand piano, as I remember it a Broadwood of about 1884, with the most beautiful figured maple case.

Now, I must make confession.

I have sinned.

I confess that I have committed the sin of lust. ...

I really lusted after that piano, it was actually the only thing I ever did lust after in the whole bloody pub. But alas! I never did assuage that lust because soon the pub progressed3, if that's the right word, from those Romantic beginnings to a far different, strangely-flashingly-lit, volume-distorted, disc-jockeyed establishment, and the dancers went from amateurs to professionals and the piano just went. And I can assure you from personal experience that exotic dancing is one of the few trades that is better performed by amateurs than professionals, and Oh!! how I regret the loss of that piano!

Cheerio for now
from Richard Howland-Bolton.


1 "... iSight camera ---thingy" Apple has this weird thing about words beginning in i- and I remember (or should that be iRemember?) my disappointment when they named their answer to Internet Explorer "Safari" rather than the more consistent and much more satisfying "iBrowse"!

2 "... blue commemorative plaque to prove it" After writing, recording and sending the essay off to the studio, I did some research into this plaque (Note to self: Do check the direction of the arrow of time first next time) and I cannot find any reference online to the thing*. Either it wasn't an official one, or history has been changed again, or my memory has finally rotted, anyway to give you the flavour of the thing, here's a totally different and rather sweet plaque from a street nearby.


3 Lansdowne "... soon the pub progressed" and after that it just got raunchier and more crowded and raunchier and louder and raunchier,
even attracting the less salubrious sort of sub-Hippy, as the poet says:

Just think how many royal boners
Sleep among these heaps of stoners

Ah! but just see The Lansdowne now-a-days, as the poet (same one) says what a change of flesh is here!

* Times (not to mention tides) wait not, and things change. A few years later I found it on line:

Yeats Plaque

Legal Notice The management wish to state categorically that the title 'Lansdowne Ho!' is merely a metaplasm on such well established expressions as 'Land Ho!' or 'Westward Ho!' and contains no implications about any of the extraterpsichorean** activities of any exotic dancer.


** "... extraterpsichorean activities " another possible coinage: from Gk. Terpsikhore (terpein delight + khoros dancing) one of the nine Muses, ruling over dance and the dramatic chorus + Lat. extra (outside)---sorry about the miscegenation.
Meaning 'over and above dancing' and sadly, in this case specifically street-walking over and above piano-dancing.

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