17 January 2010

The last of the snow?

I hope so. I hate to sound like the grown-ups in my childhood, but it was an absolute nuisance in the end. Too much ice and not enough snow, for a start. “I ’ave ad eeenough” as one of my V&A colleagues used to declare. Snow in London always gets dirty and slushy very quickly, anyway, even if when it first falls it can look quite picturesque - as here on the palms in Bethnal Green Gardens last Tuesday morning, with the red brick of the Museum in the background for contrast. It did one very useful thing, too, which was to light up the park after sunset – normally the centre is ‘orribly dark then, but people were walking across quite happily. You still run the risk of being shut in for the night, so I wouldn’t, but at least you’d probably be visible to the parks staff who lock up.

Snow out in the ‘West London Alps’ is a bit different – plodding up and down the side road where we live was really quite tiring all week, even when suitably shod, and there were odd patches lingering in the shade until yesterday.

01 January 2010

Oranges and Lemons

Recently I had to do a BBC Radio London Interview with Max Hutchinson about the origins of the traditional rhyme 'Oranges and Lemons'. This was an outside recording in Martin Lane, in the City of London: I was the first to arrive, and had just succeeded in walking straight past the rendezvous point - what little was left of the church of St Martin Orgar - when my attention was grabbed by this knitted set of oranges and lemons adorning the railings. Only in this country, surely!

'Oranges and Lemons' was always one of my favourites as a child, and not only for "Here comes a chopper to chop off your head" (though that did play a large part). There are several versions of the words, but they all chime - and we concluded that the rhyme had been made up largely for the pure pleasure of the sounds, although it may possibly have had some part of its origin in inter-parish rivalry, perhaps over monetary matters.