Memory & London

London, The Arts

Why is the past so deeply embedded in London? It seems that for all its postwar rebuilding there’s something to remember on every corner. Walking to the Royal Albert Hall last night I passed this street opposite the park, upon which nothing seems to have changed in 150 years (it was probably De Vere Gardens or the next one over).

I was heading to John Barry’s memorial concert, an event filled with old friends I hadn’t seen for years. Barry’s music feels as if it has been the soundtrack to my life, always there in the background, a real memory-conjurer.

The pieces were beautifully performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, with anecdotes from the stars who worked with him.

The negatives: a weak rendition of ‘We Have All The Time In The World’ by someone called Rumour, who sang with all the grace of a machine designed to crush aluminium cans flat, and a turgid, thespy reading from Timothy Dalton. The positives: David Arnold performing John Barry’s beautiful last song, and of course Dame Shirley Bassey, belting out ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ and ‘Goldfinger’.

Everyone remembers the five-time Oscar winner Barry for his film scores, forgetting that he composed stage musicals too, including ‘Billy’ (based on ‘Billy Liar’), ‘Lolita, My Love’ and ‘Brighton Rock’. Someone should release this last score, which was stunning and underrated by critics.

4 comments on “Memory & London”

  1. Andy says:

    Even with the negatives I envy you.

    As for history, I once bought a small brass plaque that read “In 1832, on this spot, nothing happened”, think it’s gracing a wall in Wincanton now.

  2. Helen Martin says:

    We went on a self led tour of New Westminster “heritage” houses a few weeks ago and that brass plaque was mounted on a front porch pillar of one of them.

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