Had we been awarded an honour by Her most gracious Majesty in the New Year's throng of gongs, we would have been elevated to an Ear LOBE (*thanks to Simon of Croydon for that cracker gag*) but we console ourselves about the oversight with the totally unexpected prize of having had the best New Year's Eve ever that saw our view elevated if not our status.
Now that doesn't set the bar very high, "best New Year's Eve ever", as there have been some properly shabby ones. So we set expectations manageably low, by deciding to stick with a low-key, local celebration. As I walked to the studio along the Lambeth Walk a few days prior, a poster invited me to bring one, bring all, to a party at the Chandlers Community Hall (its name a nod to the days when the ships of the Thames got their supplies from the streets around here) on Dec 31st - for £2.50 inc. buffet! The troops were consulted and all the brave hearts were in - 'though to ward off gastronomic disappointment we did decide to pre-bouffe chez nous. The pulsing nucleus of Bedlam appeared with contributions for the table before we waddled over to the hall. Even Brian came along. And there we found the true bedrock of the Lambeth Walk - the old residents gathered with their families. It appeared that the dj, too, collected his free bus pass quite some years past and I have to say, that new fad for "mixing" really throws away the build up of anticipation you get with a ninety second gap between each record. We loved it.
There was a raffle in which our youngest won a Terry's Chocolate Orange, that I wasn't sure was even made anymore, and I scooped a bottle of Radox bubble bath. Drunk on that success we took our leave of the vintage assembly that we hope sees in many more new years. A day earlier, we had bumped into Wiggy the Carpenter on Walnut Tree Walk. He kindly asked us to watch the midnight fireworks from the roof of the old Housing Association for which he had lately found the key... for "the doorway to a place of enchantment."
And what a view we had! Big Ben that keeps faithful time for us was upright straight ahead with his face glowing gold; in the middle the Millennium wheel (already, canubelievit, almost old enough to drive!) offered us bouquet after bouquet of shimmering fluorescence; and to the right the Shard sent laser greetings to whoever was watching in outer space.
For next year, we might replot the tree that was the only thing between us and the gunpowder but really, there was not one thing to bemoan. Up amongst the Victorian chimney pots we felt like Mary Poppins and and her sooty beau Bert so toasted the infant MMXV with a verse of Chim Chiminee Chim Chim Cheree Chim Cheroo. And let me assure you, "nowhere was there a more happier crew!"
Up where the smoke is all billowed & curled,
'tween pavement and stars is the Bedlamites' world.
When there's hardly no day and hardly no night,
There's things half in shadow and half way in light.
On the rooftops of London... coo, what a sight!
All together now!!....https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyzrKJAu9Rk
|The Shard beams into space with the dome of old Bedlam to its left.|
|That was a schmokin' night!|
|The Italianate beauty of the Victorian Housing Association on the same street as our studio. Wiggy had us all back to his for further revelry. His carpentry workshop is built around a tree in his back garden.|
The idea was to recreate a photograph so iconic that it has its own Wikipedia entry. Known as "A Great Day In Harlem" it captured a perfect storm / moment in time of a collection of some of the greatest jazz cats of... ever:
This is it:
To do the job they engaged legendary lens woman Jill Furmanovsky, yet further compliment. Rather than list the enormous amount of iconic pictures she has shot of iconic musicians, I'll give you the link to some of her work:
She has taken portraits of everyone: Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Bob Marley and perhaps our Nile's favourite ever photo of him with Bernard and the Chic ladies at the Apollo Hammersmith in 1979: