Sunday, 24 January 2010

More tales from the road

Taken from The Times January 22, 2010
Article by Huon Mallalieu

Development threatens Portobello Road antiques trade

(Marco Secchi / Getty Images)

A Portobello Road dealer sets out his wares. The area's long-established antiques trade is under threat from chain stores and stalls selling cheap souvenirs

Since the early 1960s Portobello Road has been a magnet for tourists from around the world, as well as for serious collectors and buyers of antiques. On tourist brochures the Saturday market symbolises London, alongside St Paul’s, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, and its existence has helped to bring the prosperity that has regenerated Notting Hill. Now, it seems, it may become a victim of that success, lose the individuality that made it and be taken over as yet another chain shopping street.

In 2007 the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea published A Balance of Trade, the report of its Commission on Retail Conservation, which was chaired by, Councillor Tim Ahern, then the mayor, and numbered Sir Terence Conran among its members. A good deal of that widely welcomed document dealt with Portobello Road and its world-famous antiques street market. Among its conclusions, the majority of which were approved by the council, was this statement:

“Specific functions in specific settings can be protected. We think this is now required for the antiques arcades on Portobello Road.” The market, said the council, must not be “overrun by identikit multiples”.

Portobello Market, with its mix of antiques, fruit and vegetables, bric-a-brac and vintage fashion, ranks No 5 among London’s tourist attractions, and an average of 60,000 people frequent it each Saturday. Since the beginning of the 1960s the antiques stretch has been characterised by a mixture of shops, street and pavement stalls and arcades, some of them housing up to 200 or more dealers. The antiques section is quiet in the week, but the food stalls are still there, and as the neighbourhood has been regenerated, so property values have risen.

For some years developers have been on the prowl, with Guernseyregistered UK Investments, and Warren Todd’s Portobello Investments and Westbourne Arcades buying up properties in the area. Several small arcades have already gone or changed nature. Now, without a nod to A Balance of Trade, more than 150 dealers have been ejected from Lipka’s Arcade, a prime site on the corner of Westbourne Grove, which has been unveiled as a branch of the AllSaints clothing chain.

When the dealers vacated the twostorey and basement arcade last summer, they were assured that they would be able to return to a refurbished basement, with new retail space at ground level and flats above. However, when the hoarding came down, AllSaints was found to be in occupation of the basement as well as the ground floor. The flats were there, with a mansard extension which appears to breach planning regulations, as does the replacement of six shopfronts on Westbourne Grove and four on Portobello with sheet glass.

As the council has written to Costas Kleanthous, the chairman of the Portobello Antique Dealers’ Association, planning consent was neither requested nor granted, but it is merely

“investigating” the matter, while Councillor Ahern says that the council cannot intervene as there has been no change of use — the site is still retail.

As Portobello Investments has bought up properties in the antiques section, and UK Investments in the food section stretch beyond Elgin Crescent, vendors of Third World tourist goods, such as Chinese handbags, T-shirts and the like, have been encouraged to take stalls in front of arcades and shops, which inevitably gives passers-by the impression that similar wares are on sale within. This has resulted in an exodus of traditional dealers. In smaller arcades, such as World Famous, antiques have been replaced entirely by tourist wares, on sale all week. Feelings are running high, and violent incidents between traders and arcade managers have already been reported. As Marion Delehar, whose family has been in the trade for a century and had a shop on the road for 50 years, says: “Incandescent doesn’t begin to describe our feelings.”

Another textile dealer says: “Lipka’s was the stomach of the market. We are left with the head and toes. Red Lion, Harris’s, Admiral Vernon and Rogers are still there — but for how much longer? Without them the market will be finished.”

Precedents are not good. London councils have rarely supported their markets. In the 1970s Southwark tried to do away with the Friday morning Caledonian in Bermondsey, a favourite with the antiques trade, and after recent redevelopment regulars describe it as a travesty of its former self. Camden Passage has largely fallen to developers, despite words of support from Islington. Despite requests and assurances the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea has not provided the necessary lavatories and rubbish bins for Portobello, even though rates as well as rents have increased.

Undoubtedly there is profit to be made in changing the nature of Portobello, but given the proximity of the Westfield shopping mall on one side, and Whiteley’s shopping centre on the other, Costas Kleanthous, the Friends of Portobello Road and the market’s many other supporters doubt that the road would have a longer-term future as a street of chain shops like any other high street.

Afrika Bambaataa/John Lydon - World Destruction

Friday, 22 January 2010

Sounds exciciting doesn't it?

Unfortunately it wasn't. And hasn't been for two years now. What was once the highlight of many a bleak January is now nothing more than a direct marketing ploy. One or two (four to be exact) nice things afloat on a sea of absolute dross (and absolutely pristine Barbour).

On the upside I did manage to enter and leave the building without incident. And believe me it was a minefield of possible incidents.

Heather Leigh West - Drop A House

Wednesday, 20 January 2010


Tall, dark and handsome.

Lot # 55

SECRETARY DESK- 18th c. Country Chippendale Secretary Desk with simple molded top over two raised panel doors and three fixed shelf interior set on slant front base, simple pine nested interior over four graduating drawers on shaped bracket base, old black painted exterior. 84 1/2" high, 36" wide, 19 1/2" deep, good condition.

Sophie Tucker - He's Tall, and Dark, and Handsome

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

One congratulates the groom...

and wishes the bride good luck. The bride in this instance is Emily Evans Eerdmans. And my gift to the couple would be a pair of Black-necked Swans.

Saint-Saens - Le Cygne

Monday, 18 January 2010

Le japonais

Self portrait, Paul Jacoulet

Paul Jacoulet (1896-1960) the French born artist best known for his Japanese woodblock portraits. Following in the tradition of ukiyo-e printmaking, Jacoulet was able to reproduce, and transform, his delicate line drawings and watercolours.

Trois Coreen, Seoul, Coree

Le Bonze Errant, Coree

La Mariee, Seoul, Coree

Le Marie, Seoul, Coree

Le Tabouret de Porcelaine, Mandochoukuo

Les Paradisiers, Mendo, Celebes

Ryuichi Sakamoto - Forbidden Colours

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Something for the weekend

Die Mommie Die! (2003)

Written by and starring Charles Busch as Angela Arden. Angela is an unhappily married cabaret singer trying to make a comeback. And she is not going to let anyone stand in her way.

Angela Arden: I hate this house! I hate these walls... I hate that sofa! The only part of this dump that doesn't make me puke is that door - because that's the way I'm gettin' out!

You've slipped into my life as easily as vermouth into a glass of gin... quickly and just a bit too smooth.

Now playing: Frank Sinatra - The Lady is a Tramp
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Sounds like...

Splendour and Squalor: The Decline and Fall of Three Aristocratic Dynasties

From stunning stately homes to the prisons of wartime Britain; from the House of Lords to Edwardian asylums; from the Ritz and the Dorchester to East End pubs, "Splendour and Squalor" tells the stories of four of Britain's most illustrious aristocratic dynasties and of the black sheep who brought them down. They kept monkeys in West End hotels, and rent-boys in Deauville and Kensington. They spiced up life in pre-war Britain by patronizing illegal gaming clubs and staging elaborate five-in-a-bed sex in stately homes. They used firearms with convincing disregard for their own and others' safety and drove their Rollses and Bentleys with apparently suicidal intent. They acquired yachts and helicopters as they shipped the family silver to California and disposed of Old Masters at auction. They married frequently and unsatisfactorily, humiliating their wives and always withholding from them dynastic secrets of schizophrenia and insanity. Lacking the energy and appetite to do so, they rarely developed their talents. Carpeting their lives with deceit, they sought consolation in ferocious expenditure, funding narcotic and alcohol-fueled blow-outs. They ignored the advice of sane relations, shrugged off trustees, and experimented with burglary, shop-lifting, vagrancy and fraud. Their primary, possibly sole, accomplishment was to drag down their families with them. They were the black sheep of aristocracy and this is their story.

my kind of people.

Now playing: Shirley Bassey - Get the Party Started
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

American master

Heat Waves in a Swamp: The Paintings of Charles Burchfield

The work of Charles Burchfield is most decidedly founded, not on art, but on life, and the life that he knows and loves best. - Edward Hopper

An April Mood

Glory of Spring (Radiant Spring)

Sun and Rocks

The Insect Chorus

Two Ravines

Curator Robert Gober discusses Hammer exhibition Heat Waves in a Swamp: The Paintings of Charles Burchfield
Run Time: 9 min. 44 sec.

Now playing: Bronski Beat - Heat Wave
via FoxyTunes


Covent Garden, 1983

Miss Shirley Verrett

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Easy peasy

persimmon squeazy.

Now playing: Randy Crawford - Last Night At Danceland
via FoxyTunes

Monday, 11 January 2010

Last of the French New Wave

Le Rayon vert, the 1986 film by Éric Rohmer

Ah, for the days - that set our hearts ablaze

Éric Rohmer (1920-2010)



Don't... Don't put the noodles and the dumplings together in the boat. They'll fight! The noodles are bullies. Poor dumplings.

Now playing: Crystal Gayle - Talking in Your Sleep
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, 9 January 2010


A late Edwardian mahogany and inlaid bowfront dressing table, on square tapered supports.

A Louis-Philippe mahogany, marble and gilt metal mounted dressing table, circa 1840, with oval mirror held within stylised swan supports, above a marble top with one drawer, on scrolling downswept supports on a plinth base with paw feet.

A George III mahogany bow-fronted dressing table, the top with a moulded edge, on lozenge sectioned legs.

A George V mahogany inlaid dressing table with glazed top, the fitted interior with silver gilt bottles and ivory manicure accessories, London 1910.

An early 19th century rectangular mahogany dressing table mirror with scroll brackets, pulvinated frieze drawers and turned feet.

Now playing: Aretha Franklin - I Say a Little Prayer
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Saturday, 2 January 2010

If nothing else...

Quentin Crisp, with Tilda Swinton, in his role as Elizabeth I in Orlando

What would you be like if there was nobody else in the world? Who would you be if the only opinion that mattered was yours? Because if you want to be truly happy you must be that person. You must search inside yourself for what is uniquely you. When you find it, polish it until it becomes your style. It's no good being a pig farmer for 30 years looking back and saying 'I was meant to be a ballet dancer', by that time pigs are your style. - Quentin Crisp

Now playing: The Communards - You Are My World
via FoxyTunes