David Bowie - Photo Chris Boland/Unsplash
David Bowie - Photo Chris Boland/Unsplash www.chrisboland.com/london-wedding-videographer/

London Calling – January 2024

Starman

David Bowie was perhaps the most iconic individual pop star of all time. Sadly taken from this world way too early at the age of 69 in 2016, his legacy lives on.

The Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) has been left some 80,000 items, many of which will be on rotating display in ‘The Life of David Bowie’, a new permanent exhibition which, it has been announced, will open in 2025.

The V&A is famously located in the museum district of Knightsbridge, West London, but this new attraction will be located in the oddly-named East Storehouse at Stratford’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London.

The display items will choreograph his life right up to and including the production of his final album Blackstar, which was released shortly before the star’s death.

His fashion sense and sometimes outrageous costumes were almost as famous as his music and a treat awaits any dedicated followers of (his) fashion! Amongst many, many articles of clothing, his Union Jack coat, worn on the album cover of Earthling and designed by both Bowie himself and fashion guru Alexander McQueen, will sit alongside Kansai Yamamoto’s extravagant creations, made specially for the Aladdin Sane tour.

There will be photo collages from Bowie’s films, including The Man Who Fell to Earth and Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence, together with other memorabilia from his film career.

Perhaps most personal and poignant will be the proposed displays of his handwritten song lyrics and his personal collection of musical instruments, which give a real insight into the creative genius behind some of the most memorable music.

The King's Guards - Photo Anika de Klerk/Unsplash
The King’s Guards – Photo Anika de Klerk/Unsplash

Fellow music-legend Nile Rodgers said: “I believe everyone will agree with me when I say that when I look back at the last 60 years of post-Beatles music, that if only one artist could be in the V&A, it should be David Bowie. He didn’t just make art, he was art!”

This immense undertaking has been made possible by the David Bowie estate and a donation of £10 million (€11.63 million) by the Blavatnik family and Warner Music.

No longer number one

Not the usual battle of the bands but, after 17 years at number one, Waterloo Station has been knocked off the top spot as London’s busiest railway station!

The so-called ‘Lizzie Line Effect’ has seen Liverpool Street Station take the crown and Waterloo has dropped to third place behind Paddington Station as well!

The Elizabeth Line opened in May 2022 and runs through Liverpool Street. In just a year, the new pretender has seen its passenger numbers more than double from 32 million to an astonishing 80 million! Waterloo has remained steady at just under 60 million passengers!

Howard Smith, Elizabeth Line Director, said: “Liverpool Street, Paddington, Farringdon, Tottenham Court Road and Stratford all being in the top 10 busiest stations in the UK, and four of the 10 most popular journeys being on the Elizabeth Line, shows the popularity of the railway and how it has offered new journey options in London and beyond, as well as the new direct route to Heathrow airport.”

It was not all good news for the smart new purple and blue line though, when last week London Mayor Sadiq Khan criticised the Elizabeth Line, adding that delays and cancellations had meant it had “not met the consistently high standards” expected by Londoners.

This rail news comes hot on the heels of confirmation that London is the world’s slowest city in the world for drivers! This is not ‘news’ to most Londoners who endure the misery of congestion on a daily basis if they are unlucky enough to need to travel by car.

Liverpool Street Station - Photo Paul Lievens/Unsplash
Liverpool Street Station – Photo Paul Lievens/Unsplash

Journeys of 10km in Central London took an average of 37 minutes and 20 seconds last year, according to a survey by driving technology company TomTom. This was the longest time amongst the 387 cities in 55 countries analysed. Others in the top five are Dublin, Toronto, Milan and Lima.

Stephanie Leonard from TomTom said: “London really is the slowest place in the world to drive a car. You don’t have the infrastructure for driving very quickly.”

No wonder most Londoners rely on the excellent rail, bus and Underground services to get around!

When tradition and cruelty collide

One of the most stirring sights in London is to see troops in full dress uniform parading around the streets of the UK capital. The King’s Guard regiments mostly wear the traditional bright red uniform of British Soldiers and though adapted at various times, little has changed since the colour and style were officially adopted in 1645.

The most famous parades take place around Buckingham Palace and include the Changing of the Guard, Trooping of the Colour and the official State Opening of Parliament. Royal Jubilees, weddings and funerals are also festooned with the pomp and ceremony for which Britain, and London in particular, has become so famous.

The splendour of Royal London attracts tourists from all over the globe and visitors stare in awe at this spectacle of which the whole country is so proud.

However, there is one darker side to all this that Londoners are finding increasingly unacceptable. The foot guards wear tall, black hats called ‘Bearskins’. Even King Charles himself wears a bearskin from time to time in his military roles.

The clue is in the name. These caps are made from the real fur of Canadian black bears and in an age when so many synthetic materials are available, this is becoming increasingly unacceptable to Londoners. King Charles is famous for his care and concern about environmental issues, and this sits at odds with the unnecessary slaughter of wild animals to produce hats for his soldiers.

The campaign against the use of real fur has received a huge boost this month from the intervention of British actor, and friend of the King, Stephen Fry. “Tradition is never an excuse for cruelty,” says Fry. He has joined the campaign by animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for whom he narrates a video criticising how bears are “mercilessly killed by trophy hunters”. He goes on to point out: “By continuing to purchase caps made of black bear fur, the UK government drives demand for pelts and effectively incentivises hunters.”

To date, Buckingham Palace has remained silent on the issue and the Ministry of Defence has emphasised that bear pelts are sourced from authorised hunts. Hardly the point though, and public opinion in the UK capital is clearly clamouring for a change.

By Richard Lamberth

Richard Lamberth leads parallel lives with homes and business interests in London and Portugal. He provides consultancy services to leading businesses in insurance and financial services, property and media sectors. He has four sons, two dogs and enjoys a busy family life. He likes swimming, keeping fit and an outdoor life.
[email protected]

 

David Bowie Photo Chris Boland/Unsplash (www.chrisboland.com/london-wedding-videographer/)