Kensington Church Walk and all that

Donnachadh McCarthy

P1020107

Kensington Church Walk

Ezra Pound Kensington Blue Plaque

P1020113

I was down in High Street Kensington the other morning to interview Donnachadh McCarthy for Drift Report so it seemed apt to drift afterwards in a more literal sense.

Talking to Donnachadh, who is involved in cycle activism in London, may have made me notice the bike by the railings on the busy High Street. Perhaps it was the juxtaposition of this rusting, shabby machine surrounded by such glitz and glam – either way I had to photograph it – 4 times. It was only now that I noticed the yellow tag attached with a blue plastic tie – what did it say? I’m tormented by this mystery now. What if it spelt out some cryptic clue or a nugget of wisdom. Actually I’d be intrigued if it was just some sort of municipal warning that the bike would be removed by the Council.

I couldn’t help being drawn up Kensington Church Walk – can’t resist these little byways and alleys. When at home I was sure there’d be something about it or a sketch in one of the old topography books I collect – but there’s nothing. It’s exactly the kind of feature that I would have expected James Bone, HV Morton, or Wilfred Whitten to pick up on – but it seems not.

The American modernist poet Ezra Pound lived in Church Walk – they’ve given him a nice Blue Plaque. He visited TS Elliot in my hometown of High Wycombe – that is my main association with Pound. There’s an article in The Guardian about Pound’s London (no mention of trips to visit Elliot in Wycombe) which throws up the image from his Church Walk days of him “sitting on the bed with a volume of Tacitus on his knee.”

It’s such another world down there around Kensington and Notting Hill – a different city altogether, and not just because of the wealth and the lunching oligarchs – although that does constitute a large chunk of its ‘otherness’. I bought a Sainsbury’s ‘Meal Deal’ and pondered this as I munched on my stroll up to Notting Hill then along Bayswater Road to Queensway. I still haven’t completely worked it out.

2 Comments

  1. Lorna   •  

    I know what you mean about another world. Think it might be the London we knew from books as a child. Although I grew up in Leytonstone I was never entirely convinced, as a child, that I was living in the “real” London. I was always looking for cast iron railings and window boxes of geraniums and white Georgian houses and glimpses of the kind of lamplit drawing rooms in which Mittel European musicians would pace around grand pianos, sadly thinking of their lost grandeur

    Always felt short changed.

  2. JohnR   •     Author

    I think that might be it – for me that London was the area around Ealing and I now realise it was because of all the kids TV shows shot in that area due to it’s proximity to the BBC and the density of writers/producers/directors who lived there. Same probably goes for Kensington/ Notting Hill with the film industry and publishing. Summed up nicely in that great faux tourist info sequence in Trainspotting when they arrive in London.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>