Hope and heartbreak

The examiners love to ask for these sort of points to see if you have located the position in the street. The Water Rats is no exception, founded in 1889 and limited to ‘members of the music-hall profession, its objectives: Philanthropy, Conviviality and Social Intercourse. . . . . . . . . . .

Exclusively for Patrons, here is List 1: Run 2 the next ‘run’ from my travelogue Pootling around London: Manor House to Gibson Square, again I hope you find it both amusing and informative.

Thank You again for your support.

Thornhill Square N1 to Queen Square WC1

The French have their boulevards, the Italians piazzas, but for Londoners its the squares. For many years these quintessentially English spaces had bee neglected, it was the London Squares Preservation Act of 1931 which went some way to save many from the avarice of developers. With help from English Heritage and local authorities using funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund London’s earliest squares of Bloomsbury have been sympathetically restored to the former glory.

Over 400 Georgian and Victorian squares survive today for Londoners to live near, work or relax, each of them with its own character. Today’s run starts and ends with two which have very diverse personalities.

Not strictly a square, Thornhill is pear-shaped, but all the better for it, with its elegant Victorian terraces surrounding the manicured green. I leave by Matilda Street at the narrow end of the square. Turning right into Copenhagen Street, the derivation of its name has proved, for me, an impossible task. The long straight thoroughfare running east to west is typical of the area. Local authority housing blocks dominate interspersed with multi-million Victorian properties.

Turning left into Caledonian Road known locally as The Cally. The name originated from the Royal Caledonian Asylum which was established to support and educate children of Scottish servicemen who had been killed or disabled in service in the early nineteenth century.

Cutting through the streets of King’s Cross I find myself in Gray’s Inn Road. This is one of London’s earliest roads. This long straight road was recorded as early as 1234, and General Monck was said to have travelled down the road to restoring King Charles II to the throne after the Commonwealth collapsed.

I have had to get off my bike for the Water Rats pub is just behind me, at the start of the one-way system, and the examiners love to ask for these sort of points to see if you have located their position in the street. The Grand Water Rats was founded in 1889 and was at first limited to 15 ‘members of the music-hall profession. The declared objectives were: Philanthropy, Conviviality and Social Intercourse.

Returning to my bike I’m soon in Great Ormond Street. This whole area is filled with hope and heartbreak, for not only is the world famous children’s hospital located here, but our destination is also known to cabbies as ‘Hospital Square’ due to the number of hospitals dotted around this small green which is full of memorials.

Not all the memorials are dedicated to patients, one bench reads: ‘Dedicated to Nazy Mozakka, bio-medical scientist, Great Ormond Street Hospital, who died so tragically in the London bombings 7th July 2005. Her cheerfulness and empathy is missed by her family, friends and colleagues’.

Cabbie’s aide-memoiré
We are famed for our knowledge of the city and our ability to recall a large amount of information. Memory functions are stored within the hippocampus via the neurotransmitter which encodes those memories. Depending upon the levels of norepinephrine and epinephrine at the time determines which of those little pieces of information are accessible later. So for many a little help is necessary.

Acronyms: by taking the first letters we have created: WASP; the four streets that go from St. Leonard’s Terrace to South Kensington Junction; Walpole Street, Anderson Street, Sloane Avenue and Pelham Street; CAB; Chelsea Albert and Battersea Bridges and COB; the three respective roads they lead into said bridges: Chelsea Bridge Road, Oakley Street and Beaufort Street.

It was fortuitous that when they renamed the old Globe Theatre in Shaftsbury Avenue to the Gielgud it didn’t spoil the mnemonic: Little Apples Grow Quickly Please; five theatres on the north side of Shaftesbury Avenue: Lyric, Apollo, Gielgud, Queens, Palace, and if you prefer, with a greengrocer’s apostrophe, ‘s at the end you get the Shaftsbury Theatre.

The Dirty Dozen the twelve streets from Regent Street to Charing Cross Road that gets you across Soho.

Our brain would seem to be the opposite of a computer, we have trouble storing large amounts of data, but an inexhaustible capacity for storing images. Therefore when trying to remember the location of Frankie Howard’s blue plaque (27 Edwardes Square, Kensington, London W8 6HH, if you’re interested), just visualise Up Pompeii in the square.

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