Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Monday, 28 May 2012
Tea in the park
The classic, Victorian Sunday - tea and sandwiches in the park, then attracted by the sound of a lascivious slide trombone, we ventured further in to find the bandstand full of men and women belting out Frank Sinatra numbers like 'Fly Me To The Moon'.
I once wrote to the Nino Rota orchestra in Italy, to see if they could sell me some Rota scores which I could hand on to a band like this, just so we could sit around and imagine ourselves in a Fellini film, but they never replied. I might have another go soon, as it is fairly high on my list of musical 'to-dos', along with punching a play-card for 'Happy Talking' for a fairground steam-organ. Both very well worth pursuing, but hard work for someone who is entirely unconnected to the world of music.
If you enlarge the above picture, you will see the Mayor of Bath (dressed in white and wearing a large, gold necklace) and his good lady wife sitting in the front row, enthusiastically clapping along when asked to do so by the band leader. The Mayor is patron of the band, and I don't know whether or not that comes with the job, or if he has taken it on voluntarily whilst wearing his other hat as a keen Country and Western singer and guitarist. His other hat is a Stetson. He drives a Trabant. Enough said.
As a side-note, the pair of large, marble urns with snake-handles either side of the bandstand were given to Josephine by Napoleon Bonaparte, so what they are doing sitting around in the Royal Victoria Park is anyone's guess.
I have a strong feeling that I will be a little tired of the colours red, white and blue before the year is out.
We wandered up to the Royal Crescent (I am officially allowed to park my old Volvo right in front of it, day and night if I so wish), and then on to a little bar in a side-street where we sat down for more refreshments - beer in my case.
The shop, 'UBER' in the picture is a strange sort of fashion outlet, selling casual clothes sourced in Austria. A few doors away, there used to be another shop run by the same Austrians, which specialised in selling cuckoo-clocks and lederhosen - I am not joking. For some inexplicable reason, this other shop went out of business. I miss the sound of Oompah-bands wafting out of it's doors on a warm summer's evening.
As another side-note, take a look at the zig-zag join in the stonework which runs up the face of the buildings like a cubist bolt of lightening. There are a couple of interesting stories attached to it.
One night in 1943, a few German bombers flew over Bath and dropped a stick of high explosives which ran in a line from the river, through The Circus (a round, 18th century building), along Brock street and narrowly avoiding the Royal Crescent, but destroying the largest church in Bath, just behind it. Some good came out of it then, as the building was a monstrosity.
One of the bombs fell on the buildings to the right of UBER, and when they rebuilt them, they built the walls perfectly 'plumb' or vertical. The original Georgian ones were built leaning slightly backwards, as you can see in the discrepancy of the blockwork.
The timber floor-joists of Georgian buildings were always running from front to back, and the builders used them as supports for the facade by deliberately leaning the great walls against them as they built up - a practice which would not be allowed today!
I am - as I write - waiting for an engineer to check our phone line to see if there is a fault which disconnects us from the internet every few minutes. Obviously, at the moment I am having no such problems - I wonder if it will go wrong when the man from India gets round to calling back....