Well, Fulham is certainly full of character.
Let me explain that Fulham is a region of London to the West of the city and near to Hammersmith and Chelsea. I must say I have never been before, and we were only staying there because there was a cheap hotel a mile and a bit from Hammersmith Apollo, one of the iconic London music venues Well, strictly is currently the Evertim Hammersmith, but surely no one calls it that outside of Evertim employees so the renaming is vaguely ludicrous, at least Shepherds Bush Empire and Brixton Academy, comparable venues, only have to put up with ‘O2’ blighting their name, which is conveniently forgotten about by anyone who actually, as I do, loves those venues. We were there to see Californian pop/rock band Train but although the gig was great – it is always good to see a band that can properly entertain – not just play, entertain – live, some of the most memorable moments were not at the Apollo at all.
I’ve harped on about looking up and around before, and London has much opportunity for moments where you stop and go, ‘will you look at that?’. As you walk from Fulham High Road towards Hammersmith it is quite noticeable that the area, while hardly a slum now, has seen better days, as grand Victorian terraces look out on the four busy lanes of the A4, where perhaps there was a quiet lane and a park when they were first built. A slightly battered Georgian townhouse hides, recessed, from the Kebab and chicken shops. The entrance to Barons Court Station certainly would do justice to any member of the minor aristocracy who considered on a whim to investigate the station attributed to them.
Best of all is St Paul’s Studios, a whole row of buildings built in Arts and Crafts style in 1891 to designs by the architect Frederick Wheeler; they are private houses now, but were built as artist’ s studios for bachelor artists, and have magnificent arched glass roofs to provide maximum light to the studio space; not at all what we expected to see but quite magnificent (find out more if you are interested at https://baldwinhamey.wordpress.com/2013/12/10/st-pauls-studios/ )
So, there is plenty to enjoy even when slogging through London to get to a gig. Mind you, you do have to be a bit cautious, especially later when there are fewer people around. We had to negotiate the group of teenagers who seemed to have developed an urge to through live fireworks at each other; never a recommended pastime (to be fair, they took no interest in us, seemingly content to maim each other, but even so). We walked briskly on as the police car glided into sight.
Weirder was the serenade early in the morning. As I lay trying to sleep, the wavering voice of a woman came through the open window, from somewhere unseen in the street (I am making the broad assumption of an older lady). She was, quite incongruously singing ‘London Bridge is Falling Down’ in an accent that was almost out of Dick Van Dyke cliché (and no, I was not dreaming this). She went on to go through several verses that she may have made up, but seemed perfectly to fit. Then there was a rattle – going through bins, I thought – and then no more. It was quite surreal. It is hard not for me to think that she comes outside the Travelodge every day at the same time looking for what she can scavenge, and in the process, beats out some ditty or other. The question is does she sing the same thing every day? I guess I will never know, but there is a story there.