An old advertisement for an art exhibition which took place in August 1978, still stuck to brickwork at Baker Street tube station, 2016
It has now been one week since the Grenfell Tower fire.
This tragedy sent a double helix of utter heartache and seething anger spiralling though me; feelings which have yet to subside. I know I’m far from alone.
As I write, the current death-toll stands at 79.
Anyone however who has seen what remains of this now charred, towering tomb will have no doubt in suspecting that this number is sadly far higher.
As someone who grew up in London and who loves the city and its people, I’ve wanted to use my platform here to express my intense views on the disaster. But in short, I’ve been unable to find words.
Instead I would encourage you to watch this interview with Cristos, a gentleman who survived the blaze.
His account speak volumes.
Londoners of a certain age- and indeed others who’ve visited the capital in years gone by- will remember how Trafalgar Square used to swarm with pigeons. Thousands of them. There was even a family-run stall in the square which sold bird seed to entice the critters.
Thanks to a clean-up initiative introduced by former mayor Ken Livingstone at the turn of the 21st century however, the pigeons have since flocked elsewhere, robbing the square of its ornithological character. It’s now easy to forget just how prevalent those tough little city birds were.
When they ruled the roost the pigeons made quite a mess and it was the statue of Naval hero, Lord Horatio Nelson, standing at the centre of Trafalgar Square, which bore the brunt of their droppings. Consequently his statue often required a scrub- easier said than done when said sculpture is perched upon a 170 ft column.
The chaps responsible for maintaining Nelson’s statue in days gone by were hardy blokes for sure; scaling the dizzying heights with steeplejack knowhow and practically zero safety gear. Their boldness was famously highlighted in 1977 when legendary children’s TV presenter, John Noakes– who sadly died on the 29th May 2017- joined them up top for an episode of Blue Peter. Just watching John scale the rickety ladders is enough to make your palms sweat… click below to view if you dare!
This wasn’t the only time the hair-raising process of cleaning Nelson’s Column was captured on film- please click below to view earlier footage which appears to date from the late 1950s/early 60s.