This is 100 yards or so north of Oxford Street. Who'd a thunk it?
It's one of the olde worlde "cut throughs" Fitzrovia specialises in.
Oh and don't get the wrong end of the stick about that black
"border" at the top. It's not a border. It's the end of the covered
passageway you have to walk along to get in there.
"A youth who bore, 'mid snow and ice, a banner with the
strange device, Excelsior!" The "device" on the London Walks
banner – well one of them – was spelled out by an American
gentleman on one of my walks, "I love the degreee of granularity
you get with London Walks". This upper storey window is a
case in point. You'd never spot it off your own bat. Seeing it
is as delightful as spotting the plumage of a rare and
Old sign, new sign. Very Fitzrovia, that. The way the past – the
old – hangs on, is always there, just beneath the surface.
The Fitzrovia "miracle". Again. This is just a stone's throw away
from Oxford Street. Photo was taken on Dec. 26. There was a
tsunami of shoppers on Oxford Street that day – and here, 100
yards away, a hidden oasis of Georgian tranquility. With great
history, literary "connections", etc.
And then there's this. One of two surviving Georgian workhouses
in London. Dickens as a boy lived just nine houses away. There's
every chance this was the real life inspiration for the workhouse
in Oliver Twist.
But of course. 22 missiles and above them four heavenly, winged
golden girls. On the roof of a garage in a Fitzrovia back alley.
"The degree of granularity!" And, for that matter, "I like seeing
things other people don't get to see."
This you might see without my (David's
) "guidance". It is, after
all, a huge mural on the side of a building just round the corner
from Goodge Street
Tube. But can you "read" it? Any idea who
the fanged dracula figure (with the rat coming out of his trouser
leg – did you spot it?) is? Or what about Paddy? Spotted him
yet? The joke the artist "painted in"? And the rest of it? The little
boy in blue, for example. Or the office workers. The walk kicks
off with this mural. And rightly so – because "all of Fitzrovia" –
or just about all of it – is in that mural. But you have to be able
to decode it. The which I'll do. The which I'm able to do because
the artist took me through it, element by element.
Yup, you got it. It's noir London. And, for that matter, film
set London. The Beatles biffed along here in A Hard Day's Night.
Another blind window that's been crudely – but lovingly –
decorated. The charm is in the "Grandma Moses" – indeed almost
childlike – rendering of the thing. And in the "you-have-to-know-
What's not to like about this? The peeling paint, the lace curtains,
the "serviceable" lamps, the bird cage (did you spot it?). And that,
well, inimitable name. It's Fitzrovia through and through.
Still more "I-like-seeing-things-other-people-don't-get-to-see"
stuff. A full-of-determination (and armed with the right sort
of Blue Plaque "handbook") wayfarer might be able to track
down the Henry Fuseli blue plaque, which is more or less (more
or less being the operative phrase) round the corner from this
gem (and why is Reubens on this wall down this fairly non-
descript Fitzrovia alleyway?), but there's no way he'll be able
to track this down.