When not strolling in East London’s Brick Lane, home to the Bangladeshi community and a decent Ruby*, one goes UP WEST – as they say in ‘ENDERS.
If The Swarmite happens to be in the Soho area of London with a few minutes to spare ( and a spare CC ) he coasts toward the most unique luxury store in London, the glorious Tudoresque LIBERTY & Co. through the 1925 Great Marlborough Street main portico on the side of Regent Street’s Crown Estate.
Behind it runs Swinging Sixties Carnaby Street created by John Stevens, an outrageous homosexual of the day. Gay was not the word in common usage post decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967, when terms like queers, nancies, homos, poofters & irons were still the norm. Stevens started Carnaby Street by selling womens underwear to men, cleverly called it peacock fashion, and notoriously never paid any bills, but his scottish charm and urban spirit lifted London into iconic stardom as well as lifting young Swarmite into his fold of chums.
As young fashionistas we were sniggeringly amused that a gift shop in Carnaby Street painted pillar-box red had a huge baroque gold victorian sign outside spelling GEAR, an addicts term for drugs. The shop is still there – same name, different font – over 40 years later heralding a recent revival of the street, once again becoming a magnet for style, fashion brands and english eccentricity.
Then wander behind alleyways to discover the birth of the 60′s boutique where Foale & Tuffin and Jean Muir sat and sewed, then onto Marshall Street where Georgian shopfronts halt into early seventies madness and the concrete edifice of a residential block. It is here that Swarmite pauses to consider the corner, opposite an NCP Car Park, adjoining Broadwick Street W1.
If LIBERTY & Co is the Cathedral of shopping
then this spot is the cathedral of URBAN SPIRIT,
once the place of residence for WILLIAM BLAKE
, ( 1757-1827 ) English Poet, Writer, Painter, Printmaker and Spiritual Visionary.
Look up and you will see that the 20 storey residential block is called WILLIAM BLAKE HOUSE. Both John Steven and Blake’s spirit has little to do with organised religion or ritual but everything to do with intuitive vibrant energy, visible, invisible and beyond, connected to risk, faith & trust.
So if you are thinking of releasing harmful compulsive patterns, codependency or abusive liaisons take advantage of other peoples history of overcoming trial, risk and adversity, asking them for experienced guidance. Doing it alone seldom works.
London’s multi-cultural creative heritage is everywhere if we choose to look and so it is with the hope that binds us together on dark days. When we lose the plot, a job or a friend, solice is required along with unseen guardians of protection. While wandering London’s roman and medieval alleyways gather the dust of change into your grasp and ask for help, walk to a park, find water to watch or birds that gather.
If in doubt LOOK UP.
" Then look again at London itself. In the late eighteenth century this city was the single most oppressive urban conglomeration on the face of the earth. It was also the richest city on earth. It had some of the most pernicious slums. There were many riots – by butchers, by bakers, not perhaps by candlestick-makers but certainly by coal-porters and silk-weavers. There were occasions, like the time of the Wilkes riots and the Gordon riots, when the city was more or less under the control of the mob. Blake himself was caught up in one great riot, and watched Newgate being burned to the ground and prisoners freed " Peter Ackroyd
London has survived and so will you.
Bow to the power of surrender and you will find that the power behind you is greater than the task ahead of you. Spiritual growth is dependent on your own radicalism – remember John Stevens & William Blake who though centuries apart risked ridicule with relish with just a few pavements in-between.
Now London’s multi-cultural mix breeds new adventure making it as riotous, radical and insane as ever. On dark days I suggest you embrace it’s differences and give yourself the gift of HISTORY by pounding streets, remembering to LOOK UP beyond projection of fear and self obsession, and walk the walk.
*Localism : A RUBY
( Ruby Murray = Curry ) Ruby Murray was an Irish Crooner from the 1950′s. Soon after in the ’60′s when Indians & Kenyan Asians arrived in London opening Curry Houses, cockney rhyming slang declared A RUBY to be fine adornment to 10 pints of bitter after the pub had closed. Englishmen consider eating food while drinking in a pub a pastime for nancy boys. Real Men deliver on the pavement before or after a Ruby.
This is the true URBAN SPIRIT of London.