Elvis Presley promoting Jailhouse Rock
Elvis Presley promoting Jailhouse Rock

London Calling – November 2023

The king is in town

An amazing new experience has opened at an exhibition space called Arches, near London Bridge, South East London. As the name implies, this incredible space is built under the arches of the railway lines connecting the UK capital with southeastern England.

‘Elvis, Direct from Graceland’ seeks to bring visitors up close and personal to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll with more than 400 iconic display items, ranging from cars to jewellery and personal items, wage slips to flamboyant costumes and toys, and most of these have never left the US before.

The highly emotive objects and items on display chart the life of Elvis from the early days with original music and recordings, through his military service, to the Hollywood films and famous moments like the ‘68 Comeback Special. The residence in Las Vegas is vividly depicted with many of his outlandish, sparkling jumpsuits on display.

The controversial relationship with his life-long manager, ‘Colonel’ Tom Parker, is explained and laid bare and his tragic demise thoughtfully depicted. Astonishingly, it is nearly 50 years since the world lost this iconic, musical talent.

Some of the most touching items on display are those which are perhaps most personal and, therefore, relatable to us all. Elvis’s front door keys, his wallet, the bedside telephone from his home Graceland and his leather wristband (actually, the one he wore in the 1968 NBC TV Special).

There is a wonderful quote from Elvis: “I always felt that someday, somehow, something would happen to change everything for me, and I’d daydream about how it would be.” This fantastic exhibition is on until February 2024 – go along if you can, to see how this came true.

Big Ben.
Photo: henry-be-unsplash

Running out of time

Twice each year, most of us curse the need to change clocks either backwards or forwards. In England, the autumn loss of one hour heralds the true arrival of winter and almost immediately it seems to start getting dark from mid-afternoon onwards.

Then, there is the practicality of changing the clocks themselves – particularly if, like your columnist, you have a clock on your microwave above the cooker, both with electronic clocks which are almost impossible to synchronise!

However, spare a thought though for those with responsibility for bigger and more important clocks – like the icon that is Big Ben, for instance!

Big Ben is actually the name of the famous bell that chimes and the four-faced timepiece should really be referred to as the ‘Elizabeth Tower’s Great Clock’. The people who look after this iconic clock are the Palace of Westminster Clockmakers and, twice a year, these guys are particularly busy when we are all just moaning about forgetting to change the radio alarm.

At 9pm, the strike mechanism is silenced and then the lighting system behind the clock faces is turned off to avoid confusing anyone into thinking it really is the end of the world as the hands jolt around erratically. They are moved to the new midnight, but then the really hard work starts. With the mechanism not running, this is the perfect time to carry out maintenance and repairs to the old timepiece!

At the new midnight, the clock mechanism is started again, and further maintenance is undertaken to ensure everything is running smoothly. Adjustments are made, but the chimes and lights are still not engaged. The actual time of the change is 2am and, at 14 minutes to this un-Godly hour, the chiming mechanism is re-started. Then with just a few minutes to spare, the lights are turned on and, exactly at 2am, Londoners can hear that famous chime once more.

By this time, most of us are in bed and asleep, but there is no rest for the Clockmakers! The Palace of Westminster and Parliamentary buildings have an astonishing 2,000 more clocks within their hallowed walls and, of course, these all need to be telling the same time – Big Ben Time!

Putney Pies – Photo FACEBOOK

Restaurant Review:

Putney Pies, 2 Putney High Street, London SW15 1SL

+44 208 780 2920 | [email protected]

The finest pies in the land! That is the lofty claim of this restaurant which has become something of an institution in South West London. The building itself is truly a Tardis with a smallish, tasteful, darkly painted shopfront looking out over Putney Bridge, disguising what lies within.

A small seating area at ground level has stairs leading down to an amazing cavern-like basement (The Vault) which stretches all the way under the busy Lower Richmond Road to a beautiful terrace overlooking Bazalgette’s amazing Victorian bridge and the mighty Thames.

The river is still strongly tidal at Putney so the view from the terrace, where there are tables for eating, is a constantly changing picture of river life. And with the bridge now beautifully lit at night, it is a particularly stunning place to while away a summer’s evening.

The Vault is famous across the capital for its live music and club DJs with music playing late into the night from the unique under-road hideaway. No need to worry about the neighbours down there!

But what about the pies? London’s Evening Standard quite rightly said, in March 2023, that their signature creations were simply ‘The best pies in London’, and your columnist is delighted to fully endorse this.

The beautiful hand-made pies feature old favourites like Steak and Ale alongside some truly unique combinations such as Beef Bourguignon and Pumpkin, Spinach and Ricotta. Pleasingly, the menu changes frequently so there is always something different to try. All pies are accompanied by tasty homemade gravy with a choice of sides.

Back at street level, the restaurant wall space is often used to display artwork from local artists and groups. The pictures are usually for sale so a visit to Putney Pies can be so much more than a delicious lunch or dinner!

This is more of a go-to venue than simply a restaurant and is brilliantly run by Glaswegian Matt Barr and a team of attentive, friendly staff, ready with advice on anything pie-related! Prices are reasonable and a treat really awaits your visit to SW15, so go if you can!

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]