I carried on down Surrey Street, along the Embankment downriver to
Blackfriars Tube station and was outside Monument Tube station six minutes later.
A group of about 25 (mostly Americans) built up for the walk. Our guide was Graham, a Glaswegian former insurance worker. The tour started at 10:35 and was full of fascinating facts and stories. For instance, where we were standing, just north of the Monument, one can see where a line of the inscription has been removed. It referred to suspicions that Catholics were responsible for the Great Fire.
Graham pointed out that there are few lampposts in the City of London: wherever possible lights are mounted on walls to reduce clutter. Another oddity is that there are no litter bins - for security. [This must relate to the high level of street sweeping.]
Next we crossed Gracechurch Street to Lombard Street. The name derives from the expelling of Jews in 1290 and their replacement by Lombardy gold merchants. St Edmund the King church there has a memorial to the Titanic.
The alley took us through to Cornhill and we crossed to the Royal Exchange buildings, noting the grasshopper symbol of Gresham, the founder. There are statues of Reuter and Peabody there. On the other side is Threadneedle Street with the London Stock Exchange and the Bank of England. The latter's museum is open Monday-Friday (plus last Sunday). Each new Lord Mayor gets the unusual privilege of an account at the Bank.
We went into the Bank station subway, noting the long sloping tunnel down to the Waterloo & City Line (weekdays only) which gives rise to its nickname of "the drain".
|[Peter Palumbo, the property developer, was infamous for "carbuncle" property development in the 1980s and in particular a Paternoster Square development. He was also Chairman of the Arts Council.]|
Our last stop was across Gresham Street in Guildhall Yard, where the polling booths for yesterday's election of the Lord Mayor were being cleared away. A black line around the Yard marks the position of the Roman amphitheatre. The tour ended at 12:35.
There was indeed a fine selection on: Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby Mild, Exmoor Gold, Hop Back Summer Lightning, Ridley Rumpus, London Pride, Batemans XXXB. However there were only two young barmaids working (no sign of the manager) and they let a group of about 25 French tourists monopolise them (not helped by not having good enough English to order properly) whilst five or so British people (with brief orders) waited to be served. I had to wait exactly 25 minutes to get served and then the gum-chewing barmaid advised me not to bother ordering any food "as that lot have just ordered" (or words to that effect). A properly-trained person would have advised me that there might be a considerable delay. My Exmoor Gold cost £1.89 but it was the first pint I'd ever had in any JDW (approx. 12-15 visits) which was full-measure. I wasn't impressed that the other barmaid dropped an ice scoop on the floor and put it straight back in the ice tray.
Anyway, the place is typical of JDW: a vast space with white stucco ceiling interrupted by glass domes and a large circular bar in the middle.
I returned to Monument station where I considered going along to the Barbican for Andy Goldsworthy's Time exhibition but there was a signal problem on the Circle/District Line so I couldn't risk being late for the next event.
After my meal (garlic bread, the same pizza & wine as yesterday and Tira Misu - £14.95 - strangely cheaper), I had time to spare and wandered north up Adelaide Street, passing a reclining statue of Oscar Wilde - Conversation with O.W. - which was featured on a TV documentary earlier this year.
After a rest and freshening up in my room, I headed for the NFT again for 16:15.
The rediscovered bits came from Sweden, where apparently the more visual sketches have been shown many times on TV in the intervening years. UK copies suffered from the early 1970s frenzy of videotape wiping. The BFI already had some material from the show.
The show was one of the many spin-offs from I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again and was written and performed by Tim B-T, John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Marty Feldman (still also working on Round The Horne). With Do Not Adjust Your Set, it was the immediate forerunner of Monty Python's Flying Circus. For instance: writing in pairs (Tim+John, Graham+Marty), the wide variety of material and the use of captions.
David Frost, as Executive Producer, gave Tim & John money to make the show and broadly left them to it. They found the other three. Barry Cryer and Dick Vosburgh also helped with some writing and performing. Dennis Norden was very helpful as an occasional adviser.
As a superb finale, we saw the original version of the Four Yorkshiremen sketch, from the show. "Sheer luxury!"
It was over just before 18:00 so I popped into the adjacent NFT cafe-bar for a keep-awake coffee (95p) and to kill the next half hour. Aimi wasted no time getting there to light up a fag! She looks little-changed and fit!
At age 77 he never stops working - he's got four film scripts ready to go and had just come back from filming in Spain.
Eric talked about his war-time experiences and the post-war move into professional entertainment, in the company of that generation of ex-military comedians - Jimmy Edwards, Spike Milligan and so on. He also talked a lot about his old friend Tommy Cooper.
Sadly, his old friend Sir John Mills was to have joined in the evening but couldn't make it.
Eric mentioned his philosophy a number of times: "life is a marathon, not a sprint".
After another good meal (£18.85) I left an hour later to find it was raining quite hard. I didn't want to miss the opportunity of seeing what the Covent Garden area was like on a rainy Sunday evening - presumably very different from a hot Friday or Saturday!
I went into the Porterhouse again (about a quarter of the seats taken) and had a pint of their Red ale (4.4%, £2.70). I was glad it wasn't overchilled. To me it seemed to have more interesting/pleasant taste than the Oyster Stout and was perhaps less bitter (hopped).
I returned to my room around 22:00 and noted that checkout was by 12:00, rather than the awkwardly-early time of 10:00 most hotels seem to have.