Remember, remember – along London’s river and beyond
By chance I spotted HMS Tyne heading downstream on the ebb, having been in the Pool of London to commemorate Remembrance Day.
Who could forget last year’s field of poppies around the Tower of London? But memorable too were this year’s great national gatherings of ancient warriors from home and abroad, whether at the Albert Hall, in Whitehall marching past the Cenotaph and, of course, at the Merchant Navy memorial on Tower Hill.
On Armistice Day we passed the Fire Brigade on parade outside their Woolwich Road station, smart and poignant. While we were in the M&S nearby store, it came to a halt at 11:00, shaming us on our carelessness. A little later, we were on a mission to Woolwich’s massive Town Hall to claim my Blue Badge renewal, a most complicated procedure for us oldies to cope with!! However, my fraught mood was brought to a sharp jolt as the No. 53 passed the poppies at the very spot where Drummer Lee Rigby was slaughtered at the crossroad in front of passers-by – just like me. Little did I realise that a monument had been dedicated that very same morning.
While ‘interchanging’ at Blackheath Standard, the sudden passing of a platoon of rookies, fully armed but hatless, clomped past at the double on their way back to barracks, identifiable by a ‘red and yellow’ ribbon on their rolled up sleeves.
By chance, a reassuring tap on the shoulder from a total stranger who commented on my ‘Livett’ corporate tunic jacket. The stocky, broad Scott was also wearing a similar ‘Balfour Beatty’ one issued to contractors. A jolly banter followed as he recognised the Livett flag logo which I had been given by Chris Livett. Upon inquiry he told me he hailed from Dunoon on the Clyde, once the hub of ship building – Cutty Sark’s birthplace too. He also told me that Livetts had not only supplied the essential safety boat at Blackfriars Bridge station which was built across the tideway, but also most of the heavy industrial material was barged in by them to be craned into position at the right state of the tide too! If you admired James Bond’s recent dramas over and in the Thames at MI5, well Livetts provided the necessary knowledge and fast craft (but not the helicopter!).
Closer to hand, the great enterprise on the Greenwich Peninsula is taking form. A bus trip there will take you to see the amazing changes to this once forlorn, forgotten land. Mary Mills has produced yet another essential history: ‘Innovation, Enterprise and Change on the Greenwich Peninsula’ was launched at the dramatic ‘hub’ part of the new visitors’ pavilion. I have always enjoyed producing sketches of the changing scene. Her book is available from Warwick Leadlay Gallery or from firstname.lastname@example.org. I have also met the challenge of depicting the overall scene of London’s Newest City as it evolves either side of the prime Meridian. Please come and see my exhibition at The Greenwich Gallery (4th-23rd December).
The reality of the appalling attacks in Paris bought instant reaction to Thames shipping. A Belgium yacht from Antwerp, heading home, flew a very large Tricolour at half mast, as is the custom.
The O2, hosting an international tennis tournament reacted with 12 illuminated towers displaying the French colours.