Walking through rainbows - January 10
Battersea Power Station
Sullivan House, Churchill Gardens
Peter Jones and Sloane Square
When I was a child in the mid 50's living at 40 Sullivan House, Churchill Gardens an awesome site confronted me very night from my bedroom window - Battersea Power Station, belching out fumes sometimes from all four smokestacks. I hadn't a clue that this slumbering monster was the reason we had light and heat. Of course its quiescent carcass still represents London at its most iconic. I'm sure tourists feel short changed seeing it stripped of Pink Floyd's flying pig but it remains the most enduring landmark for those trundling into the heart of London by train en route to Victoria Station.
As I grew into my teens Pimlico held less of a fascination than its neighbouring Chelsea. I went to a local grammar school there along with the Labour Party's Alan Johnson and Malcolm MacDonald who was already an incredible footballer with thighs like tree trunks and a penchant for executing ye olde flying tackle. As a myopic glasses wearer all ball games terrified me at our school on the borders of Fulham and Chelsea, a stone's throw from Stamford Bridge the home of the Chelsea football team itself.
I fell in love with Sloane Square at first sight with its Art Deco Peter Jones department store imperiously looming over the fountain and Royal Court Theatre. I once saw Meryl Streep sneaking out of a play at the Court wearing a scarf over her head and no make-up, with the Queen cooking sausages at Sandringham "photograph me at your peril" look. Not a time to ask for an autograph obviously.
One summer's day in 1965 when I had my Adrian Mole meets Harry Potter look complete with wire specs and school uniform I passed Mick Jagger alongside Peter Jones looking impossibly handsome in blue blazer, Raybans, a suntan and long hair. But I'd already made up my mind that I was going to be a guitarist... In those days R & B was all the rage. Then the Blues boom died around the late sixties, giving way to more experimental sounds. I'll never forget the first time I heard the strains of the Beatles' Within You Without You through the haze of incense sticks and floating multi-coloured silks in the Kings Road Chelsea Antiques Market. In those days I was experiencing a new world... it seemed as though music had indeed shaken the walls of the old city and had brought the widely differing cultures of East and West together into my own backyard.
Today the area carries much of its old charm, but with a corporate umbrella instead of a kaleidoscope of fantastic dreams and images leading the procession. Recently walking through those streets in my trainers I could still hear the distant rhythms of Cuban-healed boots marching past Granny takes a Trip...
"Over the rooftops and houses" - Steve in the Peter Jones cafe