A WET WEDNESDAY

As I looked out of my window all I could see was the rain falling down and yet, I had promised myself that I would go and see a film as it was only going to cost me £1.75. The film was called, ‘The Best Things in Life are Free’ and starred Ernest Borgnine and oddly enough it clearly stated that the film was a musical. This for me was most peculiar as I’d only known him as a tough guy as in From Here to Eternity, where he plays a nasty sergeant and also when he appears in The Wild Bunch and I think, the title speaks for itself.

Eventually the rain left off a bit and so I wore a waterproof jacket which I’d had since I’d worked as a telephone engineer for BT and headed for the underground. Being a bit early I got off the tube at Bond Street thinking I might grab something to eat and a coffee, but everywhere seemed packed. Mind you, it was about lunch time when I arrived at Bond Street. Surfacing I walked along Oxford Street towards Oxford Circus and looked into all sorts of eateries but they all seemed to be packed.

Then I stumbled across a small place called, The Oasis. I went in and discovered that it belonged to the Salvation Army. There weren’t many people in there and so I bought a coffee and a slice of bread pudding. As I sat drinking my coffee and eating the bread pudding I read about a founder of the Salvation Army. If only more people used the place, after all the money goes to a good cause and unlike Starbucks they are not trying to be tax evaders. The staff were very pleasant and I left the Oasis and headed off to the cinema I’d discovered the other day.

I’d arrived a few minutes before the film started and bought a ticket. I chatted to a man who said, “Your first coffee is free, just tear off the white portion of your ticket.”

I was elated and as I went up the slope to the auditorium I was amazed. You see there was a man sat playing an organ and so many people were already seated. I went up to the back as the seats nearer to the screen were occupied. Whilst the organist was playing I chatted to the man next to me, who told me about a similar cinema in Kennington.

Once the organist finished, a large lady appeared on the stage and announced a man. The man walked onto the stage and told us a bit about the film, which was based on a true story about three songwriters in the 1920s.

Once the film began I was amazed, you see I thought as the film was made in 1956 that it would be in black and white, (well the clip of the film shown in the cinema programme was in black and white,) but no, the film was in colour. Plus I knew several of the songs.

The film documented the lives of the three song writers and was brilliant. As they say, they do not make films like that anymore.  Leaving the cinema it was still raining, but fortunately, there was a bus waiting at the stop, which was going my way. I boarded it and thought what a wonderful afternoon I’d had, even if it had been a very wet Wednesday.

Regent Street

It was the penultimate Sunday in July and the previous day had been very wet, hence I did not venture out, well apart from buying a newspaper. The weather looked fine on Sunday and so after doing a recce for a meeting on Tuesday, I had a quick lunch, then made my way to Oxford Street.

I travelled by bus and alighted at Selfridges, where a portly man, wearing a grey sweater asked the bus driver, “How do I get to Covent Garden.”

“Number 13 bus,” he replied.

“I’ll come and check it with you,” I said and sure enough the 13 bus didn’t go to Covent Garden. “What you need to do, is get a bus in Oxford Street to Tottenham Court Road and from there, it’s only a short walk.” He wasn’t impressed and I said, “Where do you come from?”

“Liverpool,” he replied.

“I thought so, my mum came from Liverpool.”

“Whereabouts?”

“Aigburth Vale. Where do you come from?”

“Cheadle. It’s near Aigburth. I have to go as my friend’s got a cab.”

Walking along to Grosvenor Square, the man and his friend passed me in a cab.

Entering Grosvenor Square I noticed there were a few empty tents dotted about and there was a brass coat hanging up in the middle, on a square stand. Goodness only knows what that was for? Leaving the square I walked down to Berkeley Square and then along Piccadilly. At Piccadilly Circus some of the roads were blocked off and I looked up along Regent Street. There was no traffic on it and hence I walked along as I could hear some women singing.

There were five of them called Elle and the Belles and they were superb. Brilliant harmonies and they all did a solo spot. Elle was the tallest and stood in the middle but all the Belles hair was well coiffured and the Belles all dressed the same. They wore beige blouses, dark trousers and black stiletto shoes. Plus there were also a couple of men, one played trumpet and the other played trombone. I stood and watched until Elle and the Belles had finished.  

          Elle and the Belles had performed from a Stage Bus and as the name would imply, it was a bus converted into a stage. After their last song another woman appeared and announced that there were stalls further along the road selling food and drinks.

I then walked along Regent Street, and spotted the singing girl troupe, stood together chatting.

Looking up I saw banners flying saying, No Bus on Sundays, whereas parts of the road were covered in green, giving it a grass like appearance.

Further along there was a keep fit class, although nothing appeared to be happening, but as the woman had said there were stalls where one could buy food and drinks, plus there were seats and benches dotted along for people to sit, eat and drink.

Not far from Oxford Street there was a Bandstand where a jazz band was performing. There were people sat around on the fake grass, whilst some stood and took pictures on their mobile phones. The band played their last song and I spotted a small boy playing with a tiny yellow ball. He dropped it, not seeing where it went. I picked it up, and dropped it in front of him. As he picked it up I said to his mum, “They were very good. I bet you didn’t expect that today?”

“No we didn’t,” she replied as her husband arrived with a pushchair. I bid them farewell and noticed a keep fit class exercising to the song Freak Out, by Chic. I recalled dancing to that in my younger days and I think, my dance movements were far better than that of the keep fit class!

Leaving Regent Street, I wandered along to the north side of Oxford Street, and was on my way to Tottenham Court Road, when I saw a young Oriental woman in a blue dress, looking at a map on her mobile phone and she kept turning around.

“Where are you looking for?” I asked.

“Argyll.” She replied.

I looked at her mobile phone and said, “Judging by your map, it is down that way? As going that way, will lead to Tottenham Court Road.”

She thanked me and went on her way. It looked as if it might rain and then it occurred to me, had the Scouser I’d met earlier caught a bus a bit beyond Tottenham Court Road, he could have walked the short distance to Covent Garden.

I then boarded a bus for home and once home, checked out where the Argyll was. It’s not as I thought, an hotel but a pub or restaurant and either way, I’d sent her in the right direction. As for me, it had been a very enjoyable afternoon.