From a 1903 letter to Franz Xaver Kappus from Rainer Maria Rilke

I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.


“Live the questions now.” Rainer Maria Rilke

Thank you for visiting this page. I’m Julia, and I work as a psychodynamic psychotherapist, relationship counsellor, and clinical supervisor. I’ve been in private practice in the City of London and in south-west London for the past three years; for the decade before that, I worked as a specialist psychotherapist for working age adults in the NHS (where I’ve also run staff groups).

This is where you will find the posts on my London-based blog, which I update constantly through the week, almost as a stream of consciousness. It reflects my interests, including psychotherapy, and my weekly experience outside – though not divorced from – my work. It’s a contemporary version of the commonplace book – one where the thoughts, responses, and comments of others are welcome.

“The desert for Lawrence of Arabia constantly had to be swept smooth – an unexplained footprint at 50 yards would show up on 70mm…

Edward George Fowlie, film production designer: born 8 August 1921; married three times (two daughters); died Carboneras, Spain 22 January 2011. Fowlie married Kathleen, a girl 30 years his junior from Co Kerry he met during Ryan’s Daughter. The two of them ran the Hotel El Dorado at Carboneras in Almeria, Spain. (from Kevin Brownlow’s obituary for Fowlie in The Independent of 25 April 2011.)

From Making Ryan’s Daughter: The Myths, Madness and Mastery (2020), by Paul Benedict Rowan:

“Fowlie was Lean’s dogsbody or right-hand man, depending on who you spoke to, and was the most dedicated of the director’s Maniacs. Lean didn’t have many friends and Fowlie was probably the closest one. He was also considered to be Lean’s alter ego, with a degree of influence over the director that some others in Lean’s tight circle resented. Lean first met Fowlie in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), on the set of The Bridge on the River Kwai. Lean was swimming in the river under the bridge when Fowlie dived in, re-emerged and exclaimed, Bloody millionaire stuff, an outlook that hugely impressed Lean at a time when most of the crew and actors were complaining about the hazards of working in Ceylon’s steaming jungle. Fowlie was Lean’s property master, special effects man and location finder, and those were just his formal roles. He was known to knock down telegraph poles when they were in the camera’s line of sight by driving into them with his Land Rover. He would locate and strangle cockerels when their crowing was disrupting filming. He was regarded as animalistic yet had an artistic side that belied his brutish manner. He was Lean’s go-to man and problem-solver, albeit one who could create new ones just as quickly.

He sometimes wondered whether he had been spoiled by David, and certainly he copied him. He shot stills using a Leica, the make of camera favoured by his employer. Fowlie had estranged himself from his children of former relationships, like David, and joined the Lean tribe that went from film to film.”

From an obituary in the Sutton & Croydon Guardian of 4th February 2011:

“…Born and brought up in Teddington, Mr Fowlie landed his first job at Kingston’s Hawker Aircraft factory, helping to build Fury biplanes. Quickly realising factory work was not for him, he joined the war effort with an 18-month stint before being discharged due to an injured leg. However, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. In hospital, pondering his next move, Mr Fowlie got chatting to a soldier in a neighbouring bed, who told him he had worked in a film studio before the war.

Not one to shy from adventure, Mr Fowlie wasted no time in heading to the Warner Brothers film studios in Teddington where he landed himself a job as a set dresser and worked on his first major film, Captain Horatio Hornblower. It was here he became known for his ability to go the extra mile for every film and he cultivated his interest in special effects and explosives. A breath of fresh air to Hollywood, he broke into the golden era of cinema and went on to join some of the world’s leading film directors and worked on some of the biggest films of our time, including Doctor Zhivago, Swiss Family Robinson and The Three Musketeers. On the set of The Bridge on the River Kwai, in 1956, Mr Fowlie forged a friendship with legendary film director David Lean, which lasted until Lean’s death in 1991. He worked on all of Lean’s films and the pair became inseparable as working colleagues and friends.

Mr Fowlie died in his sleep, at his home in Carboneras, Spain, on January 22, just one month after the release of his autobiography, David Lean’s Dedicated Maniac – Memoirs of a Film Specialist. (quoted below)

“…I found a paradise in which to live out my fantasies a stone’s throw away from where I lived in the huge, green open spaces of Hampton Court Palace, Kew Gardens and Bushey Park.
My Scottish parents – like many before them – fled the Highlands before I was born and happily settled in the south-east of England at No.5, Fairfax Road, Teddington (pictured above), on the outskirts of London (close to the Master Studio, which would become Warner Bros). My father, Jock – or Ned, as my mother Mary called him– was a skilled motor engineer who worked making hand-built AC Cars. He later became the chief of a fleet of huge Daimlers for a funeral company. It was a sign of the times, as they had just decided to change over from black, Belgian horses to motorcars. Jock was a good dad, but occasionally the relationship soured (usually the result of my being informed upon by my mother of a misdemeanour of mine)…

…he died at the age of sixty-two…At the funeral they took the hearse past all the pubs he used to drink at, right down into Sussex. With his death I lost my inspiration and the person I had most looked up to, but rather than withdraw into myself I turned to films for solace.
My initiation into movies was the same as most other people’s. In the junior years a few of us could afford to go to the pictures on Saturday mornings at the Super Cinema in Kingston. Despite being very old, dilapidated and infested with rats, we were drawn to it like a magnet, and for the modest fee of threepence we got to sit high up in the gods. As there were no seats, we sat on the steps almost knee- deep in discarded peanut shells…”

Chantry House, 2E (opposite No.5), Fairfax Road, Teddington, Middlesex

From sacredheartteddington.co.uk:

Chantry House
The school was founded in 1883 in Chantry House, Fairfax Road. Chantry House still exists but it has recently been converted into a home. Originally the ground floor was the school and the first floor was the local church.

St Mark’s School
In August 1927 the present buildings in St Mark’s Road were first used as a primary school known as St Mark’s School. In 1929 it was converted into a Church of England secondary school but it was only officially opened as a school on the 17th October 1937. The top class in Chantry House were sent to St Mark’s School.

In 1939, when World War II broke out, the school became a first-aid post and ambulance station, which meant that all the pupils had to be evacuated to Wales. In 1944 a V2 rocket that fell in Fairfax Road damaged Chantry House School but it re-opened in December 1945. Around this time the ambulance station was moved to a different part of Teddington and the first-aid post moved to a smaller part of the building. After the war, tribute was paid to former pupils of St Mark’s and Chantry House as well as the teachers.

During the War, and for a time afterwards, the playing field at the back of the school was used as a vegetable patch and the stand-alone building was a science laboratory. It was not until 1967 that the air raid shelters were removed.

St Mark’s Secondary School in St Mark’s Road moved to the new Teddington School in Broom Road on the 6th April 1963. Up until then the school had taught children up to the age of 15. Westminster Diocese bought the old St Mark’s school and Chantry House – (Sacred Heart School). They moved the school from Chantry House to the former St Mark’s school and continued Sacred Heart school there as a primary school.”

Jennym999 writes at blipfoto.com:

“Chantry House was used as a church hall for the Sacred Heart RC Church on Kingston Road until 2006 when it was sold and is now a very attractive private house.”

“Constant change is here to stay”*

*from Digital Man (1982), lyrics by Neil Peart.

In April 2020, Stephen Jones interviewed Professor Charles Handy for Management Today. I have alternated his comments, below, with extracts from “Which way? Which way?”: The Fantastical Inversions of Alice in Wonderland, by Leighton Carter, MA Candidate, Brown University:

You have anticipated several workplace trends. What’s the next one?

The disintegration of everything we’re used to. Our institutions have lost their grip on the things they’re meant to be controlling. It used to be that an organisation controlled everything in its sphere of operation. When I joined Shell in the 1960s, the company’s emblem was on everything – even the plumbers worked for Shell. That was incredibly expensive, of course, so they gradually disentangled the organisation and contracted everything out.

We now have these huge, flexi-organisations that are difficult to hold together because nobody knows who does what. We’re struggling to work in a world beyond management.

Once Alice falls through the rabbit-hole into Wonderland, the reality that surrounds her undergoes profound change while her strategies for dealing with that reality do not. Wonderland presents her with a myriad of shifting categories; boundaries — such as those between animal and human, decorum and rudeness, order and chaos — are continually violated. “Alice in Wonderland” is especially demonstrative of the fantasy genre because Alice, a stranger to Wonderland, realizes the fantastical nature of the world that surrounds her and must constantly work to navigate and understand it.

Is there still a place for management?
In this disentangled world, people try to talk about agile management as a solution but management is the wrong word. It only makes sense when it is applied to things; you can manage a communication system, you can manage resources, but you can’t manage people.

Management is about making sure that people have the right ammunition to fire the Kalashnikov; leadership is about making sure they use it for the right purposes and don’t shoot their team.

While the King is powerless to make the Cheshire-Cat stop looking at him, the Queen exerts her power in a dogmatic manner that solves nothing. Her constant solution of “Off with his head” only demonstrates that no higher authority can change the anarchy that engulfs Wonderland.

Do organisations get that right?
Recovering from my stroke [last year] has given me a new perspective on what it feels like to be managed. I have had long arguments with nurses who try to treat me as this sort of robotic creature, telling me when I can eat, take my pills or go to the loo. They’ve been seduced by the curse of efficiency. The idea that if things are more efficient, they’ve succeeded. That’s a necessary condition of any organisation but if you think it’s your purpose, you’ve made a catastrophic mistake.

This finally puts time in its proper place — another arbitrary, changeable artifact that has no claim to absolute validity, no binding claim, in fact, to existence. Since time is now like a person, a kind of ill-behaved child created by man, there is the unavoidable danger that he will rebel and refuse to be consistent. Rackin, Donald. “Alice’s Journey to the End of Night.” Aspects of Alice. Edited by Robert Phillips. New York: The Vanguard Press, 1971: 391-416.

How do you know if you’re managing instead of leading?
Leadership has been endlessly studied but I don’t think it is at all well understood. It is a feeling, there’s an essence to the room and you can feel its vibrating energy. Walk into a primary school on a cold winter’s day and it’s buzzing with enthusiasm and curiosity. It’s an interesting place to be and it starts at the top somehow. It’s hard to create and it’s hard to put your finger on.

Carroll demonstrates the inanity in the Queen’s proposition to cut the Cheshire-Cat’s head off by characterizing it in this scene as only a head. In the debate between the executioner, the King and the Queen, Carroll revisits several characteristics of Wonderland’s fantasy:

“When she got back to the Cheshire-Cat, she was surprised to find quite a large crowd collected round it: there was a dispute going on between the executioner, the King and the Queen . . .

The executioner’s argument was that you couldn’t cut off a head unless there was a body to cut it off from . . .

The King’s argument was that anything that had a head could be beheaded, and that you weren’t to talk nonsense.

The Queen’s argument was that, if something wasn’t done about it in less than no time, she’d have everybody executed, all round. [68-69]”

When I worked at the Shell head office in the 1960s, we used to finish at 5.20pm. By 5.15pm the lifts were full. People couldn’t wait to get out of that bloody prison. I always thought it was extraordinary that one should hate work so much that one just wants to get out of it.

There is nothing, however, wrong with escape. If one is imprisoned, the desire to escape is sane and valuable. If the real world oppresses a reader . . . a fantastic world that handles his fears for him or, at least for the time of reading, clarifies his confusion, is a world that offers not escape but liberation. Rabkin, Eric. Fantastic Worlds: Myths, Tales and Stories. Cary, NC: Oxford University Press, 1979. 15 December 2007.

Leadership is getting the most out of people. Giving them the room to move but not so much that they go bonkers. Treating them as people in the sense that you realise they have wills, needs and aspirations of their own.

The failure of the “Eat Me” cake to take immediate effect over Alice’s body shows the difference between the fantasy of “Alice in Wonderland” and that of the traditional fairy tale. Though fairy tales offer an alternative to the real world, the formation of that alternative world is the only fantastic reversal that occurs (Rabkin 162). The fairy tale’s ground rules do not constantly shift — and shift on multiple planes including the narrative, thematic and linguistic — as they do in “Alice in Wonderland”.

Can leadership be learned?
You see time and again examples of people who are great managers but hopeless leaders. Sometimes a person can do both but, in an ideal world, you need two people; one to do this sort of rhetorical stuff and one to do the committee work. Winston Churchill and Clement Atlee during the Second World War were an example of this. Churchill was the orator while Atlee ran the committees behind the scenes.

Great leaders tell great stories that may or may not be true. It gives them an easy way of trying to show what they think is important in life. It wouldn’t do a leader any harm to attend a drama course – it’s a wonderful way of developing character because you have to stand in other people’s shoes every day.

Carroll presses this similarity between Mouse and girl further towards inversion by giving the Mouse a fuller understanding of human decorum than Alice. Lost in her memory of Dinah, Alice offends the Mouse:

” . . . and she’s such a capital thing for catching mice — oh, I beg your pardon!” cried Alice again, for this time the Mouse was bristling all over, and she felt certain it must really be offended. “We won’t talk about her any more, if you’d rather not.”

We, indeed!” cried the Mouse, who was trembling down to the end of its tail. “As if I would talk on such a subject! Our family always hated cats: nasty, low, vulgar things! Don’t let me hear the name again!” [Carroll 18-19]

Alice, unaccustomed to speaking with mice, underestimates the Mouse’s sensitivity to discussing cats.

What is the biggest challenge facing businesses today?
Legitimacy. Establishing in the public mind that they’re doing a good job and that the reason they exist is not just to make money. You can’t survive long term if you don’t make a profit but turning that into your purpose is absolutely crazy. Forget about all of this PR stuff; writing grand visions and mission statements in your annual report doesn’t inspire anyone.

The first duty of any business is to do its job.”

Wikipedia: “In the later Victorian pantomime, a transformation scene revealing Fairyland was the stock ending. As described by Percy Hetherington Fitzgerald, by a slow process a well-lit landscape appears (the “Realms of Bliss”). And in it, fairies are seen, rising from the ground, or hanging in the air. An 1886 musical version of “Alice in Wonderland”, classed as an extravaganza, revealed the Realms of Bliss at the start, darkening only at the end when Alice awakes.”

The former Wandsworth District Board of Works Offices, 68A Battersea Rise

From a Draft Chapter I of the Survey of London:

“From 1856 to 1888 the municipal masters in Battersea were the Wandsworth District Board of Works, whose empire covered a large swath of south-west London. During its first months the Board met in the Vestry Room at Clapham, and then in the boardroom of the Clapham and Wandsworth Union Workhouse. Meanwhile a committee considered the accommodation needed for a boardroom and offices, and the best location. At this stage the Board’s only employees were the clerk, Arthur Alexander Corsellis, a solicitor whose family were involved in building development in Battersea and who was to retain the post for nearly 30 years, and David William Young, the surveyor. Young drew up plans for a boardroom behind the Railway Tavern on Battersea Rise, but instead the Board moved temporarily to Bolingbroke House, a large house on Bolingbroke Grove, in July 1856.

The committee finally recommended in May 1858 premises facing Battersea Rise east of the corner with St John’s Road, near the centre of the Board’s district. These consisted of a two-storey house of Georgian origins (now 68A Battersea Rise) which, following a rebuilding of 1815, had been occupied for years by the Mellersh family, with some land to its west. These were taken on a renewable 21-year lease. On the west side of the house, which was for the offices, the owner, Joseph Cable, agreed to erect a boardroom, 25ft by 35ft, and to cover in the yard for carriages. The portico of No. 68A appears to have belonged to the pre-existing house, while the balustraded parapet may date from the creation of the boardroom, along with the amateurish embellishments around the windows and the peculiar rusticated stucco pediment outlined over the ground-floor windows and portico.

The Board first met in its new boardroom and offices on 10 November 1858, when the building was referred to as ‘Mellish House, Battersea’. In 1873 further accommodation was needed when the District Board’s total membership grew from 57 to 81. A new top-lit rectangular boardroom was added behind the offices, with a public on its west side. It was designed by Thomas Buckham, who had succeeded Young as surveyor in 1863, and built by John McLachlan. During the work Buckham, his assistant and three foremen were sacked for financial impropriety. In 1876 the old boardroom, which had been redeployed as a committee room, was extended westwards over the yard with a clerks’ office.

When Battersea Vestry regained its independence in 1888 it took over the Wandsworth Board’s offices and boardroom, until a new town hall could be built, while the Board moved to new offices on East Hill (now Book House), Wandsworth. In 1894, with its staff now in its new municipal offices, the Vestry sold its interest in the old premises, which were subdivided. A shop was built over the forecourt in front of the 1858 boardroom, which was used latterly as a billiard hall, then demolished in the 1930s and replaced by further shops…”

66 Battersea Rise, London SW11

From whatpub.com:

The Goat, 66 Battersea Rise, London SW11

Atmospheric split level bar on the site of the Temperance Snooker Hall where Jimmy White and Tony Meo learned their trade. Wide choice of Belgian, German and other bottled beers, also five bottled ciders. Real ale range will be subject to demand; four of the six handpumps unused on recent visit.The former brewing area at 66B has been leased off as a shop unit with flat 66C above.”

From Historic England:

“Norman Evans, the first company-architect to Temperance Billiard Halls Ltd., designed a dozen and a half halls from 1906 to 1911. The Temperance Billiard Hall built in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester, in 1907, Grade II listed, is now a J D Wetherspoon pub called the Sedge Lynn. Thomas Retford Somerford was their second architect.

The firm was founded in Pendleton, Lancashire, in 1906 at the height of the Temperance Movement; perhaps in response to the success of the world convention on Temperance held in London in the same year. The company built around seventeen billiard halls from 1906-1911 when Evans was architect; five were in London and the rest in Manchester.

The Temperance Movement aimed to combat alcoholism by building ‘dry’ recreational halls and hotels which rivalled the architecture of the opulent public houses of the late C19. The buildings often used the same decorative materials as pubs, such as tiled facades and stained glass windows, to create the congenial atmosphere of a public house without the pitfalls of available alcohol. The Temperance Billiard Company Ltd targeted the suburbs in London, where many new pubs had been built in the late C19.”

SMELLIE, Alfred (1858 – 1943)

Shown above: coal hole cover in North Audley Street, London W1.

From the Laidman Family History website:

“A. Smellie, Ironmonger – Rochester Row

Alfred Smellie was born in 1858 and worked as a young man at Young and Marten of Stratford East London, but at an early age he started his own business – A. Smellie & Co – Wholesale and Retail Ironmongers, probably in the 1880’s. Margaret Dimmock remembers him being referred to in her family as Nuts and Bolts. The property, which Alfred I built was at 70–76 Rochester Row opposite the Rochester Row Police Station. He and his wife Leila Tindale lived at 2 Elmhurst Road Balham, but she died in 1906 and he then married her sister Daisy Esther in 1908. Alfred I and Leila had a son Alfred II born in 1889.
Alfred I’s son came into the business but it was sold to Farmiloes in 1928. However he retained the freehold of the premises which still survives to–day. This policy of buying property, like other members of the Smellie, Dean, Dimmock and Hood families, continued for many years, and some survive to–day managed by David Smedley. About the time he sold the business Alfred I and Esther moved to Worthing where they had a fine house at 34 Mill Road, but later moved to Leigh–on–Sea in Essex in 1934. This was probably as much a commercial decision as a breath of East Coast air, because Alfred I saw great possibilities in the East End of London where he bought and sold a number of properties in this area of London.

Gilbert and Marion Pfitzner have Alfred’s date of birth as 1 February 1858, St George in the East, Middlesex.”

In Dorset Square, London NW1: “Cheney Brothers, 102 Seymour Place, W. Cheney Brothers, of 102 Seymour Place. Successors to William Beesley, Montague Beesley ran the ironmonger’s shop from 1908 until 1914 whilst Ernest ran the building and decorating side of the business which ceased trading in 1918.” (Covers Underfoot
In Dorset Square, London NW1: “James Matts, Paddington, W.2”
“Thomas Joseph Stone, ironmonger of High St. Marylebone and James St. He was a local man and originally a paint shop manager. He traded from 1899 until 1930.” (Covers Underfoot

“The words of Mercury are harsh after the songs of Apollo. You that way; we this way.”*

*from “Love’s Labour’s Lost”, one of William Shakespeare’s early comedies, believed to have been written in the mid-1590s for a performance at the Inns of Court before Queen Elizabeth I. (Wikipedia)

Main image: “Nos. 135-141 Fleet Street was built for the Daily Telegraph in 1928-31, the architects being Elcock and Sutcliffe, with Thomas Tait. A bold construction with tall Egyptianised pillars and a projecting clock, it has the look of an Odeon cinema. Above the entrance is a sculptured plaque with twin nude figures of Mercury the Herald speeding outwards from the centre, each carrying his caduceus staff. As studies of the male nude, the musculature is highly simplified, not uncommon for art deco statuary, and the position of the hands and thrust of the neck are especially characteristic of the period. A sunburst is behind, combined with the upper part of the globe, with Britain of course in the centre.” (Bob Speel)

“Mercury House is an office building at 124, Theobalds Road, Holborn, London, and has been headquarters to Cable & Wireless from 1955. It was opened by John Reith and was named after the Roman god…
…The architect was Gordon Jeeves. The interiors were designed by H C Upton, Cable & Wireless’s own architect. The three glass panels in the entrance were the work of John Hutton.Since December 2006 the building has been home to MediaCom.” (Wikipedia)

From Wikipedia:

“Mercury (Latin: Mercurius) is a major god in Roman religion and mythology, being one of the 12 Dii Consentes within the ancient Roman pantheon. He is the god of financial gain, commerce, eloquence, messages, communication (including divination), travelers, boundaries, luck, trickery, and thieves; he also serves as the guide of souls to the underworld.

“When architects Metcalfe and Greig were designing 21-24 Cockspur Street as war broke out in 1914 there was no tenant for the building, so the carving on the front had to be generic Edwardian aspirational rather than illustrating the particular genius of the occupants. Louis Fitz (sic) Roselieb, the son of a sculptor from Hanover who had become a naturalised Briton, was brought in to do the job. By the end of the War to End War, Roselieb had changed his name to Louis Frederick Roslyn and shortly afterwards the building got a facelift to transform it into Norway House.” (Ornamental Passions) Communications [detail: Globe]. Although Mercury (identified by his winged hat and caduceus) was the messenger of the gods in classical mythology and hence an appropriate symbol of communications, London architectural sculpture more commonly uses him to represent commerce or trade.” (Victorian Web) “Several of the buildings on Cockspur Street were offices for British and International railway and steamship companies, so this fits right in.” (Cathey Leitch)

In Roman mythology, he was considered to be either the son of Maia, one of the seven daughters of the Titan Atlas, and Jupiter, or of Caelus and Dies. In his earliest forms, he appears to have been related to the Etruscan deity Turms; both gods share characteristics with the Greek god Hermes. He is often depicted holding the caduceus in his left hand. Similar to his Greek equivalent Hermes, he was awarded a magic wand by Apollo, which later turned into the caduceus, the staff with intertwined snakes.

The name “Mercury” is possibly related to the Latin word merx (“merchandise”; cf. merchant, commerce, etc.), mercari (to trade), and merces (wages); another possible connection is the Proto-Indo-European root merĝ– for “boundary, border” (cf. Old English “mearc“, Old Norse “mark” and Latin “margō“) and Greek οὖρος (by analogy of Arctūrus/Ἀρκτοῦρος), as the “keeper of boundaries,” referring to his role as bridge between the upper and lower worlds.

The symbol for the planet Mercury (☿) has been used since ancient times to represent the element. “Hg” is the modern chemical symbol for mercury. It is an abbreviation of hydrargyrum, a romanized form of the ancient Greek word ὑδράργυρος (hydrargyros), which is a compound meaning “water-silver” (from ὑδρ– (hydr-), the root of ὕδωρ ‘water’, and ἄργυρος (argyros) ‘silver’). Like English quicksilver (“live-silver”), it was named this because it was both liquid and shiny. The chemical name comes from the planet Mercury. In alchemy, the seven metals known before the 16th century were associated with the seven planets, and quicksilver was associated with the fastest planet, which had been named after the Roman god Mercury, who was associated with speed and mobility. The astrological symbol for the planet became one of the alchemical symbols for the metal, and “Mercury” became an alternative name for the metal. Mercury is the only metal for which the alchemical planetary name survives, as it was decided it was preferable to “quicksilver” as a chemical name.”

“Mercury, representing Travel, on the right side of a pediment on King William Street in the City. The classical façade on which he rests is attached to the south side of the church of St. Mary Woolnoth.” (Cathey Leitch) “the former entrance of Bank Station, designed by the City architect Sidney R.J. Smith, a low construction of five bays, making a rather nice ensemble with blocked windows behind, and bearing two large sculpted figures in high relief: they are Electricity and Speed, by Oliver Wheatley, a sculptor of some minor prominence in the art nouveau era.” (Bob Speel)

Summary of “Mercury, Boy Yet and the ‘Harsh’ Words of Love’s Labour’s Lost”. Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 March 2007. By Frederick W. Clayton and Margaret Tudeau-Clayton:

“If there is a god who might challenge Cupid’s place as the presiding deity of Love’s Labour’s Lost it has to be Mercury. Obsessed with the use, and abuse of words, the play closes with the gnomic utterance, ‘The words of Mercury are harsh after the songs of Apollo’ (5.2.914–15), which, as they appear in the Folio, may be taken proleptically to refer to the announcement of separation which follows: ‘You that way, we this way’ (line 915). The utterance has attracted a diversity of interpretations, predictably given its enigmatic and sentential character, but there is a more or less general consensus that Mercury and his harsh words represent some form of reality principle which breaks up the Arcadian fantasy world of (the) play, and which is embodied in the figure of Marcade, the messenger who brings the news of the death of the princess’s father. Not only does Marcade correspond to contemporary versions of the god’s name, as several critics have pointed out, but his function corresponds to Mercury’s functions as messenger and psychopomp. There is, however, a more prominent figure that the play invites spectators to associate with Mercury. Linked to Marcade by his dramatic function as well as by his office – he is sometimes grouped with Marcade in the ‘persons of the play’ – ‘honey- tongued’ (5.2.335) Boyet, the only major male figure at the princess’s court, is associated with ‘sweet tong’d’ Mercury both through more general features and, more importantly, through the specific features attributed to him in the two portraits by Berowne, especially the first (5.2.316–35).”

“On the corner of Tudor Street and Temple Avenue is another Mercury – this one a more classical representation. He’s got the winged cap and sandals, and is holding a large caduceus above his head.” (Cathey Leitch)

Gracechurch Street, London EC3

From waymarking.com:

“Two apparently original parish boundary markers are set at first floor level on the 1980s office building at 33 Gracechurch Street.

To the north (the right as you look) is a blue-coloured, oval-shaped marker. Embossed letters read ‘1883 – ALH – 1’. This can be interpreted as being number 1 in a series of boundary markers for the parish of All Hallows Lombard Street, placed at this location in 1883. The church of All Hallows was rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1666 but was demolished in 1937 and the parish united with that of St Edmund the King & Martyr. 

To the south (the left as you look) is a blue-coloured, shield-shaped marker. Embossed letters read ‘1885 – SBG – 9’. This then is marker number 9 in a series of boundary markers for the parish of St Benet Gracechurch, set at this location in 1885. St Benet’s church was demolished in around 1867, a victim of road widening, so it is interesting to see that its redundant parish boundary continued to be marked in this way in 1885 and still is today. 

Both of the parishes marked here now form part of the modern parish of St Edmund and St Mary Woolnoth, so this pair of markers no longer mark an extant parish boundary.”

“In the dewy fields the cattle lie/Chewing the cud ‘neath a fading sky.”*

*from “Summer Evening”, by Walter de la Mare (1873-1956).

From: Cathedrals of Steam (2020), by Christian Wolmar:

“One of the most radical ways in which the railways transformed the life of ordinary Londoners was the improvement to their diet. This was made possible because railways could carry perishable foodstuffs that would arrive at market while they were still fresh. The best example was milk, which until the 1850s was mostly produced by cow-keepers who would have an animal or two in a basement or shed. At the time, there were an estimated 20,000 cows kept in the city and its immediate surroundings. The first milk arrived by train in London on the Eastern Counties Railway into Bishopsgate in 1845 but at first other rail companies showed little interest in this traffic. Interestingly, the process of transport eftectively homogenized the milk, making it more difficult to separate the cream, and rather disparagingly it became known as railway milk, a slightly inferior product, in the way that coal had once been ‘sea coal’ as a result of the way it was transported. The trade grew steadily until the 1870s when the development of refrigeration equipment and the addition of chemical preservatives soon ensured that milk brought by train dominated the market and, thanks to these improvements, became indistinguishable from any other milk. As demand grew, so did the increasingly distant places that supplied it – Berkshire and Wiltshire in the 1870s, Somerset in the 1880s and Devon and Cornwall in the 1900s. Special freight rates were offered to dairy farmers by a number of rail companies to encourage this trade and beat off rivals who might offer a better deal.

Because milk was generally carried by passenger trains, much of this trade came through the new terminus stations, enabling it to be despatched onwards very quickly, rather than via the goods depots. Some early services, notably on the Great Western, became known as ‘milk trains’ and these daily specials carried far more churns than passengers. Given the rich dairy lands covered by the Great Western’s routes, Paddington emerged as the biggest station for the handling of milk deliveries. A special milk arrival dock was built in 1881 and by the turn of the century more than 3,000 churns were being handled daily from places as far away as St Erth in Cornwall, almost 300 miles from London. Waterloo, as we saw in Chapter 7, also handled hundreds of milk churns every morning, which gave the station a characteristic smell of sour milk all day. By the outbreak of the First World War, all but 4 per cent of milk in London arrived by train. Thanks to the railways’ ability to bring fresh milk from far afield, consumption in the capital grew from six gallons annually per head in I85o to twenty-one gallons by 1910, representing an important improvement in nutrition. The influence of this new trade spread far out into the countryside as rural life had to adjust to London’s pace, as the authors of #the seminal work on stations explain: ‘The milk train became an essential fact of rural life altering its rhythms by demanding the co-ordination of milking times with train departures.”

#The Railway Station: A Social History (Oxford Paperbacks) Richards, Jeffrey and MacKenzie, John M. (1988)

South-east corner of Trafalgar Square, London WC2

Ian Mansfield posted on his website on 8.4.18:

“…technically, it’s an observation box so that the police can keep an eye on Trafalgar Square. In times past — it was felt necessary to keep a constant watch on the Square as it was used as a rallying point for political protests, and as those were often not announced in advance, the police needed to be able to summon help…in the 19th century, the telegraph, then the telephone was invented, so the police started installing telephone boxes around the country.

Trafalgar Square didn’t get a blue box, but in order to improve communications with the nearby police station, they installed a wooden telephone box, at the time known as a silence cabinet, next to the London Underground entrance. It was a temporary thing, and from 1919 onwards, the police campaigned for a permanent installation, and in the end that became the famous “smallest police station”, a small box hollowed out of a former lampstand that stood on the spot.

There was a Sir Lionel Earle who was the permanent secretary to the Office of Works from 1912 until 1933…many of the original documents were letters between the Office of Works’ Sir Lionel Earle and the Met Police’s Mr G Edwards OBE…the idea to hollow out the lamppost was his idea…maybe. It certainly came from his department during very long and protracted negotiations with the police…

It all started in June 1919, when the Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis expressed a desire for an “Observation Box with direct telephonic communication to Cannon Row Police Station” to be provided in Trafalgar Square, or its near vicinity. In recent months it had been reported that police in the Square had difficulty securing support from the nearby police station when assistance was needed. A few months later, after talks had evidently led nowhere, the Office of Works wrote that it would “feel the greatest reluctance” in permitting the erection of a telephone box in the Square. The existing wooden police observation box was only permitted after the Board of Works had been assured that it was a necessity of the war emergencies…it would have been quite conspicuous…hence the concern by the Office of Works…

By that October, the Superintendent of Cannon Row Station wrote that the officials of the Office of Works had offered to allow a small cavity to be built into a wall to allow a phone to be installed, but the police were unhappy with that idea…the Union Club (now Canada House) was amenable to putting a telephone near a window for the use of the police during demonstrations in the Square. A suggestion to use Admiralty House in a similar fashion was also made.

The wooden telephone box next to the tube station entrance was still there in 1921, so the temporary was by now semi-permanent, but the London Underground were planning their own refurbishment works, and needed it to be moved. That June (1921), a clearly frustrated letter to “my dear Earle” from Sir William Horwood, Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis complained that the Office of Works simply did not understand the situation faced by the police in dealing with — at the time — quite regular unauthorised protests in the Square. The police were of the opinion that it was absolutely essential that they had an observation box to watch crowds assembling in Trafalgar Square and be able to summon reserves at short notice.

Responding to “my dear Horwood”, Sir Earle explained that the department…more particularly Lord Peel, felt that the existing telephone box was an “exceptionally ignoble specimen of telephone apparatus”, and that several MPs agreed with him. They wanted it removed. London Underground wanted it removed. Only the police wanted it kept. Sir Earle asked if an observation post on the roof of the National Gallery would suffice instead…

Following riots in 1926 during the General Strike, a negotiated agreement was made to make the wooden telephone box a permanent granite box, and everyone was moderately happy. The police were negotiating to have it raised up a couple of feet so the policeman inside could see over the heads of crowds, and the London Underground was keen to put their maps on the back…

November 1926

In a letter to Mr Edwards, Sir Earle said that “a brain wave has come to us”, proposing that it might be possible to get the telephone box inside the great granite base of the big lamps at the end of the balustrade around the Square. Although he warned that the work involved in taking down the granite column and carving it out would be significant, he said that the advantage would be that it would avoid an additional structure being added to the Square.

A few days later, the Met Police’s Mr Edwards replied noting that he had also thought of the same idea…but had dismissed it as the solid appearance of the lampstand might be adversely affected and that its placement could mean an obscured view of Nelson’s Column due to the plinth holding the Havelock Statue being in the way. But his main concern, who picks up the “substantial” extra costs of the proposal?…by the following March (1927), the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis was expressing his pleasure that this “somewhat long outstanding problem” had finally been resolved.

…the sudden change of plans to hollow out the lampstand was presented to the Permanent Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office, Sir John Anderson…That July he approved the estimated £550 observation box, noting that the high cost was justified for the location…the Royal Fine Arts Commission were now involved…their final suggestion to amend the eventual design so as to put the door on the side facing into Trafalgar Square met with approval from the police.

In November, a tender for the construction had been accepted, and construction works are now underway. However, there was a problem with the idea of providing an electric light inside the telephone box…The police approached both the local electricity company, the Charing Cross Electricity Supply, and the London Underground, but were unable to secure a connection. As the external lamp was being lit by gas, it was decided that the interior one could also be lit by gas.

A slight snag the following month, as new granite needed for the telephone box had been dispatched by railway from Cornwall but then been stolen en-route to London. That mishap notwithstanding, works on the new telephone box were completed on 19th March 1928 and the keys were handed to the police. The old wooden telephone box was removed a few weeks later.

In the 1930s a modification was made so that the gas lamp above would be converted to electricity, and it would be controlled so that it blinked on and off when the telephone rang…Since then it’s been serving as a police observation box right up to the 1970s when radio communications rendered it superfluous to demand.”