Bond in Motion – London Film Museum

I am at Covent Garden at the Royal Opera House checking if there is any ballet performances on. I am too early apparently, the season starts straight after I fly out. I remember the Film Museum is close by so head there.

The Bond in Motion exhibition is on which has many of the original Bond film cars on display, those that didnt get trashed in the pursuit of an audience adrenaline rush that is.

Its a relatively peaceful museum off Wellington Street. Inside the door is a life size mannikin of Sean Connory in a svelte 60s suit, so you know you are in the right place.

I dont really know the full back catalogue of films, but fortunately, Jens from Hamburg, a holiday maker does.

He becomes my unofficial tour guide. Highlights include the Aston Martin DBS from Quantum of Solace. One side of the car is gone and what remains is scraped and bullet sprayed.

Jens is mad for the retro Lotus Espirit S1 which had to plunge off a pier in Sardinia in the 1977 in the making of  The spy who loved me. Budgets were modest then. They only had one car for the shoot, so when they needed another, the Lotus chairman lent the production his.

Unlike the making of Spectre which had eight especially made Aston Martin DB10s to trash on 007’s tense chase through Rome, tailed by baddie Hinx in a Jaguar C-X75.

There are lots of motor bikes, a Bell Jet Pack, film excerpts, guns, watches and even Bond passports to see too. The exhibition finishes as it should with a classic clip of Sean Connery at the wheel mid-car chase.

 

Hot in Hyde Park

It must be on its way to 28 Celsius today. At 8 AM its already very warm so I head to Hyde Park for some air. I pick up a ‘Boris’ bicycle from the stand and after inserting my credit card number in exchange for a cycle pin code, I unlock a bike and head off.

I join the cycle lane at a modest pace and notice before very long I am on something that seems more like a velodrome. I am being passed in both directions by office workers on a mission.

I carry on trying to be courteous and let the commuter cyclists pass, until I complete my circuit. On the Serpentine Bridge I find a traffic jam of cars, held up by a swan that has decided its cooler on the bridge than swimming about on the lake below with its mates. A few of us try and help it get back to safety. He has his own trajectory, so I leave him and return the bike to its stand.

I spot a couple of coppers in a police car eating breakfast, I mention the traffic hold up and why. They just shrug and say its nature and go back to their meal.

I take the hint and head around the corner to the cafe that is next to the Lido outdoor baths, order avocado on toast, and watch the swimmers in the lake. I marvel at their immune systems, I shudder at what that lake might be harbouring.

I read the history of the Lido Baths on a sign whilst waiting for my breakfast and also see a public notice on treatment to seek from any rashes due to swimming in the lake. Hmmm.

I get a snooty look as I sit down at a lakeside outdoor table in my bike pants, but mostly my fellow diners and I just look blissful at the joy of another beautiful day.

On the path as I am heading out of Hyde Park, the horse guards trot towards me in all their regalia. Perhaps they will sort out that recalcitrant swan.

You say you want a revolution ? Records and Rebels V & A Museum London

This one is for the baby boomers out there. Today was the opening of the 1960s colossus of a V and A Museum exhibition in London.

Unlike the Underwear Exhibition I had shelled out for recently, which was over in a quick corset summary, this exhibition is the bonus edition.

I emerged after 90 minutes completely and utterly overloaded with icons, images, fashion, sounds and philosophies of the 1960s. And ready to go back in again.

Once inside the exhibition its like being at a silent dance party as toe tapping visitors enjoy the top tunes of the era in supplied head sets.

We view the Beatles Paul and John’s hand written songs, see original Carnaby St fashion with Twiggy, celebrity photography, art, consumer advertising and then move on to more sombre themes.

Self expression repression, the Vietnam war, black politics, feminism and gay issues all form thought provoking sections of the exhibit.

On the lighter side are two of original Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart Band costumes and a special room full of Woodstock footage played up three high walls.

Bean bags are supplied for you to slouch into and enjoy the show. Whilst on a stage in front is Keith Moon’s drum kit.

We file through the last part covering some technology with space travel, computer precursors and the counter culture, until the last exhibit, John Lennon’s cordoroy jacket and the words to Imagine.

The Imagine sound track engulfs me as I exit and I have to compose myself a bit, before I turn my head set in to the museum attendant.

 

One night in Soho

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Just one turn of the corner off Shaftesbury Avenue, the main West End theatre strip, and you are a world away in Soho. Its where everyone heads for the nightlife.

I start waiting on an appointed street corner for a friend to join up for a drink at the French House. I think I am well over attracting unsolicited interest, but after a couple of minutes standing there, I am cruised by a man, who on his third pass, tells me I have a beautiful smile.

I mutter something back and look at my watch to signal I am simply waiting for friend, not the oldest working girl in Soho. Then a young Irish man who was watching comes up to me with the opener, ‘you are a long way from Bondi.’ Fortunately my friend arrives before I have to correct him.

We head on to the Dean Street institution, ‘The French House.’ Originally opened by a German in the 1890’s, all went well until the onset of WW1 when it changed hands. Charles de Gaulle supposedly worked on Free French Forces business there in WW2, and the cramped bar  has been  host to many famous actors and writers since.

Keeping the French theme going, I am being treated to dinner tonight at Kettner’s. The restaurant was opened in 1867 by Napoleon the third’s chef, Auguste Kettner. The dining room is all white on white with a sparkling chandelier, to match the conversation.  I am meeting my friend’s other half and he also has our silly sense of humour.

We are impressed by a our efficient waiter with a very thick French accent, but not convinced its real. We do our best to get him to break character, but he doesn’t crack, even in a room so hot and steamy, we eventually push all the windows open around us, as no one else will.

The only way to end an evening in Soho as a local is to slink into a private club after the pubs close at 12.30 PM. My friend, an ex-pat, is a Soho identity. She leads us to an innocuous doorway, rings a bell and we are instantly admitted to a subterranean cellar, with a tiny bar and walls decked with signed photos of stars. This long established bar is where actors, artists and wannabes tell tales into the small hours with an unwritten code that what happens in this bar, stays there. So that is where I will leave this night in Soho.

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‘Dusty’ Stage Show Charing Cross Theatre

I once did a road trip with a friend set to a Dusty Springfield ‘best of’ album as our travelling sound track. By the end of it we could practically lip synch to every song. Whilst Dusty was ahead of my time, I did know of her talent and a bit of her personal back story, including a brave stand on apartheid whilst in South Africa.

The show’s narrative is post her death, as told through her best friend to a doco maker.

She was born Mary O’Brien from Ealing. She joined her brother’s musical folk trio The Springfields, changing her name to Dusty Springfield in the metamorphosis. They were very successful and her solo career was forged out of it.

But its not just the bio notes we are there for and we dont have to wait long for the hits to be belted out. The show is a mix of live songs by ‘Show Dusty’ interspersed with grainy black and white footage of, well, dead Dusty.  But it works.

I never saw her on TV and its amusing to see her on the AV sporting a towering blonde beehive and panda eyes, twirling her hands elegantly, whilst wearing a cocktail dress as though she is going out to dinner after the performance.

The stage show moves on to her increasing interest in African American music and a fellow singer. After a punishing schedule commuting across for shows, she eventually quits the UK at the top of her game and makes the ground breaking ‘Son of a Preacher Man’ track in her new home. Cue a hologram of her original performance of it now in technicolour.

The show ends with a wrap of her best hits, performed by a hugely talented ‘live’ cast, who dont seem to mind being back up to a posthumous pop icon. We finish on our feet for a well deserved standing ovation for them.