Category Archives: London

Fear and misery

While I was sorting through stuff in the house I came across another theatre poster, this time for The Fears and Miseries of the Third Reich by Bertolt Brecht.

The poster says August 2-7 but not what year. It must have been 1976 though as it was certainly around that time and August 2-7 in 1976 would have been a run of Monday to Saturday, which makes sense.

I remember we played to packed houses, but that wasn’t difficult as The Little Theatre Club auditorium only held about 50 people. Even though, that was during the 1976 heatwave, so it must have been quite cosy. Most evenings after whatever theatre performance was on there would be jazz, folk or blues until the small hours.

Fear and Misery of the Third Reich Bertolt Brecht
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Ride around Lake Constance

Our subject last time was the legend of the ride across Lake Constance. But why did Peter Handke name his play after it?

Not an easy question, as in many respects the play seems incomprehensible. I remember being quite bewildered when we performed it. Any attempt to summarise the plot hits an immediate obstacle in that there is hardly any plot to summarise.

Instead you get occasional patches of apparent clarity which, just as in a dream, seem to change into something entirely different, with an entirely different meaning. Sorry – apparent meaning.

Peter Handke
Peter Handke in 2006
(Wild + Team Agentur – UNI Salzburg)
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Emile Ford

Emile FordWhat do Ford Hermann Hueffer and Michael Emile Telford Miller have in common? Well, they both ended up being called Mr Ford and they both have blue plaques in Kensington.

Ford Hermann Hueffer became Ford Madox Ford, with a plaque in Campden Hill Road. And Michael Emile Telford Miller became Emile Ford, with a plaque in Kensington Church Street. Continue reading

Ford Madox Ford

Ford Madox FordOn Campden Hill Road in between Observatory Gardens and Tor Gardens is an elegant semi-detached house displaying a blue plaque to novelist and critic Ford Madox Ford. The plaque was put up in 1973 not by English Heritage but by the Greater London Council – ah, those halcyon days! Continue reading

James Joyce

James JoyceOne down from Gloucester Walk is Campden Grove, W8, where an English Heritage blue plaque records that James Joyce lived there in 1931.

It seems he and Nora Barnacle were only there from May until September 1931. During this time he worked on the final draft of Finnegans Wake. He didn’t like the flat though, and thought Campden Grove should be renamed ‘Campden Grave’ as it was so full of mummies. He presumably meant Egyptian-type mummies rather than yummy mummies. Continue reading

Edward Henry


English Heritage blue plaque commemorating Sir Edward Henry, Sheffield Terrace, London W8

Now for someone I’d not heard of before. But he was another previous inhabitant of Kensington – or perhaps Holland Park to be exact.

Running parallel to Gloucester Walk is Sheffield Terrace, where an English Heritage blue plaque commemorates Sir Edward Henry, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police from 1903 to 1918. Continue reading

Ezra Pound


English Heritage blue plaque commemorating Ezra Pound, Kensington Church Walk, London W8

Tucked away somewhere in, around, or beside the grounds of St Mary Abbots Church just off High Street Kensington is a thin and windy road called Kensington Church Walk. In an offshoot of this road, presumably still a part of Kensington Church Walk, is a house with a shiny English Heritage plaque bearing the name of Ezra Pound.

I know very little about Pound’s poetry, and was not especially drawn to him once I learned he had been a supporter of Sir Oswald Mosley, Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler. However he did help TS Eliot get The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock published, and later edited and reshaped Eliot’s The Waste Land. Continue reading

Jean Sibelius

Jean Sibelius

English Heritage blue plaque commemorating Jean Sibelius, Gloucester Walk, London W8

I like blue plaques on the walls of buildings. I like their unpretentious informational content, and the way they embellish a dog walk with random snippets of cultural history.

For example in 1909 the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius lived for a while in Gloucester Walk, W8, part of that arid wasteland between Holland Park and Kensington Gardens. This was shortly after a successful operation to remove a throat tumour – possibly the result of too much smoking and/or drinking and/or lobster.

While in Britain Sibelius conducted his En sagaFinlandiaValse Triste and Spring Song.

© Chris Lawrence 2019.