and don’t dilly-dally on the way

st james church, piccadillypiccadilly postbox

Londonistas, fear not. I still haven’t finished posting all of my London sketches from December. There are still more to come. I’ve been spreading them out over a period of a couple of months to keep you coming back. Or rather, because I’ve just not gotten around to scanning and cropping and blah blah. Still, it mixes it up a bit – San Francisco here, Islington there, Sacramento here, little bit of Davis. This is Piccadilly, in central London. It’s a thoroughfare named after those ruff collars that people used to wear years ago (think Shakespeare, Raleigh, Blackadder…) and full of fine shops and elegances. St. James’s church (above left) is a great old Wren church, free of stained glass (as was the fashion in Protestant England) and a building I’ve wanted to sketch for quite a while. Light was fading though (the sun goes down at about midday in England in December) so I had to be quick. A few people asked if I sold my sketches while I was sat there. One even asked me in Italian. Another said he’d give me a fiver for it. Sorry, I said, this is part of my sketchbook and I don’t cut out pages. A tenner then, he said. Hmmm, five hundred quid, I said. Bargaining ended there, and I got back to sketching.

I sketched a post box on St. James Street. It has two slots for letters, which is handy if you’re in a hurry. It reminded me of that line in Little Britain, “if you put a second class stamp on a letter in Britain, it’s guaranteed to arrive somewhere at some point in the future, maybe.” Ah, Britain. When I used to be a tourguide I would tell my American tourists that the “ER” meant ‘Emergency Room’. I also used to tell people that, where an ‘L’ plate on a car means ‘Learner’, the ‘GB’ sticker means ‘Getting Better’.   

the angel commonly called erosgielgud theatre, shaftesbury avenue

I also used to tell them that Piccadilly Circus was the Times Square of London (which is what we’re supposed to say), and that the statue of ‘Eros’ isn’t Eros at all. It’s called the Angel of Christian Charity, and was erected for the Earl of Shaftesbury. It is supposed to point up Shaftesbury Avenue, but now i fact points the other way, due to a mistake when re-erecting it. Now it’s used as the emblem of that paragon of virtue and unbiased truth, the Evening “we can’t even justify being paid for so now we’re free” Standard. It was, as always, very busy. McDonalds was jam packed; it was like Piccadilly Circus.

And there on the right, the Gielgud Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, in the Theatreland of Soho. I remember when this used to be the Globe Theatre, but it got changed and now we have a different theatre called the Globe (something to do with that Shakespeare guy again, they’re still going on about him). As I sketched, a group of small oiks gathered around me to watch. I sped up and moved to a different spot. I don’t trust small oiks, out in feral packs on the streets of London. I do like it round here though; a mate of mine lived about a block north of this spot years ago, up in Berwick Street, and those were great times. I can even remember some of them.

3 thoughts on “and don’t dilly-dally on the way

  1. Paul Heaston says:

    Keep the London stuff coming. (Until you run out that is.) My last visit I only managed a few sketches. I like your negotiating stance with the onlooker. I had a work friend tell me he thought I could sell my folding moley for $200. I told him that worked out to about $1/hour.

    • pete scully says:

      $200! Plus all the years and years working on your craft. Your folding moley is amazing by the way.
      Just remember, R Crumb got a house in the south of France in exchange for one of his sketchbooks.

      • Paul Heaston says:

        Thanks Pete! A house seems a bit of a remote possibility at this point, but I’ll entertain exchanging a sketchbook (or all of them) for the forgiving of a certain student loan. And I credit you and your brilliantly executed moley for inspiring me to do one as well.

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