Yesterday I spent the day walking around west London. My wife was visiting Chelsea Flower Show, you can read her post here. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get in with her, as it was only open to press or celebs on the Monday, and as I am neither I had to be content with dropping her off. I didn’t mind this; it left me with a day to spend in the London. I absolutely love living in the countryside and could never live a big city, however I do like the odd trip into the capital: out here in the sticks we miss out on quite a bit of culture.
I usually have to pop into London for work once every month or two, but these are always long days without any time for sightseeing. I always end up walking through Devonshire Square to the east of Liverpool Street station where for the last few years there has been a piano outside the Planet Organic shop. It was put into the square in 2009 as part of the artist Luke Jerram’s live art installation “Play Me, I’m Yours”. I love the idea of this project, which is still ongoing and has so far been rolled out in 35 different cities around the world. The pianos are often painted up by local artists and are left there for anyone to play. If you want to see some people playing them, there are some great videos online of really talented pianists around the world.
It was actually watching youtube vids where I first heard Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence. It was being played on the St Pancras street piano as part of a medley by Samuel Rossini. He is an Italian pianist and composer who last year sold all his possessions (including his piano) and moved to London ending up living in a hostel and spending hours each day at the station’s piano. He has been spotted by a record company A&R man, who offered to sign him up, and has released an album of original compositions and covers. Another blogger Veronica Peerless ThroughTheGardenGate told me that she once saw 3 homeless people playing the St Pancras piano, which she described as both uplifting and sad. I’ve yet to have a go on one of the street pianos, and was hoping to do so yesterday, but wasn’t really near to any.
I was also hoping to pop into the piano department at Harrods, but arrived there at 09:20 which was 40 minutes before the store opened. I think that even had I arrived later I might not have been in luck as I heard recently that they were planning on closing this department, which if true is a real shame. I guess less and less people are buying proper pianos, and if they do want to buy the high-end ones they can always go to the Steinway and Sons’ own showroom on Marylebone lane.
Instead I spent the morning having a wander around the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum, as I had never been in either. I enjoyed the mathematics department of the science museum, but was a little underwhelmed with the place on the whole. For me the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry is better, which is a surprise as I would expect the national to be the best. As for the Natural History museum it was great to see the large dinosaurs, but for me the star of the show was actually the building itself. It really is built like a cathedral, but devoted to nature instead of god.
I also had a good wander around the streets of Chelsea having a sneaky peek at the posh houses and private gardens, to see how the other half live.
Next year it would be nice to get into Chelsea Flower show myself, so perhaps I should design the ‘Piano Garden’ featuring a Play me, Im Yours piano. Who knows, perhaps Elton John will give everyone a rendition of greatest hits on celebrity day, or maybe the Queen could entertain the assembled press with a version of Knees-up Mother Brown…..