One of my favourite objects from the Museum of Broken Relationships in Covent Garden’s Tristan Bates Theatre: a mixtape from this girl’s ex entitled ‘Life Without You’. There’s something so Napoleon Dynamite about it. He stuck a random picture of himself on the cover, even though it’s not his music on the tape. I LOVE IT! Especially because I used to make mixtapes ALL the time when I was a teenager. And not just with music. My friends and I would record ourselves talking in stupid voices then listen to it and laugh our asses off. Life without tapes is not as cool.
I never noticed that a lot of Soho pubs have all these old photographs of past West End stars plastered on the walls. My friend and I had a few pints in the French House on Dean Street and the Two Brewers in Covent Garden today, and at first I didn’t take much notice of the photos because they just seemed like the tacky décor you get in “American” diners. But on second glance, they’re fascinating, even haunting. There were quite a few pictures of body builders from c. 1920/30 at the French House. My friend pointed out that their physique was very different from the rippling, veiny bodies of the ones you see today. They were smaller, smoother, more natural-looking.
I generally find old photographs alluring. I like to think that people have always been people, despite the living conditions and social expectations of different eras, but when you look at old photos, people look so different–and I don’t mean just the clothes they’re wearing. There’s something different about their faces, their eyes.
I picked up this beauty at the market in Cambridge before I left. Published in 1910 by Ward, Lock & Co. Ltd. A stamp inside says P. Barratt Esq. but the prize labels on the inside cover say ‘Awarded to Cyril Barratt’ (great name!). The pages are gilt-edged and beautifully yellowed.
Interesting note on Ward, Lock & Co: The company doesn’t exist any more, but they were best known for their Red Guides–a series of travel guides to the British Isles. These were first published 1880 and arose out of a need to cater to the British public’s growing interest in travel. I’m tempted to have a rummage around Charing Cross Road to see if I can find any!