Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Stroll Along The Thames

Though I have never seriously lived in London  it has all ways been a part of my life and now that I live abroad visiting London becomes a nostalgia trip revisiting old haunts. West London with the Thames meandering through several large parks has always been a favourite one.

Last weekend I took a stroll from Hammersmith bridge along the river to Barnes. To feed the desire for nostalgia a pint in the Dove at Hammersmith was essential, even though it was only 11am.

The river passes alongside the Fullers Brewery and  Hogarth House and on to Chiswick Old Cemetery famous for its  rather boring monument  to Hogarth situated right next to the church of St Nicholas. 

  Few people realise that in the far reaches of this graveyard against a wall lies a sarcophagus containing the remains of  a painter much more to my taste - James McNeil Whistler.

The message bronze plaque near the sarcophagus is a sad comment on our age. 

The four bronzes survived 60 years before finally being stolen but when replaced in our time didn’t even last a year. I am sure if they had been in Italy they would still be there. While like most Europeans the Italians don’t really have much time for art or religion in their daily  lives they still hold a deeply rooted reverence and respect for both. 

After paying my respects to Whistler I strolled on along the river to a place that was truly life changing for me 25 years ago -  the Bulls Head, Barnes.  It was here listening to musicians such as Stan Tracey, Peter King and Don Weller that I fell in love with British jazz, an obsession that initiated  the  creation of  The Appleby Jazz festival in Cumbria which incrementally took over my life for 18 years.

Though I no longer function as a jazz promoter I try and catch up with the musicians and the music when in London and the day before my stroll down the Thames I had travelled down to Dorset with Alan Barnes to attend a concert he was performing with Don Weller and Art Themen.

And the day after I spent a very pleasant afternoon in the Princess of Wales, Primrose Hill listening to Art Themen. The immense quality of British jazz has never received its true appreciation - but that is for another blog.  Meanwhile here is a taste.