Sunday, 4 January 2015

A Frozen Moment of Time Warmly Recalled

A warm hello to anyone who finds their way to these words, the first of the New Year, and well done for making it this far - and, to start the only way we know, this will be a retrospective look back at the last bit of last year. In other words, this is a late post posing as a round up. No resolve to be more timely will change the habits of this old cat!

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!!....

Big Ben at the back; from left to right, Kevin, ambience co-ordinator in chief; myself, Lady C; friend & client Richard; Bedlam's Global Area Desk Tidier Tim; Ian, our Auxiliary Graphic Dept; the Sisters Carr, the graceful caryatids that hold up the Temple of Bedlam; and Protector of Brand Identity, Piers. For a change, Mr Wesley was behind the camera!
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.
So far, then, so up to date, but rewind the camera to the closing days of July and you would find us in the yard at Bedlam Mews gathered for the photograph commissioned for their third anniversary edition by Jocks & Nerds, arguably the coolest magazine on the planet -

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:

She also took this famous image of Roger Daltrey at the Rainbow in 1972:

As you will see in the last blog, we made some clobber for Roger last year so we were hoping to have  both him and Nile, and Goldie, and some other busy peeps, in the group shot but if you have ever tried to coordinate a few of your mates for a get-together and found it a teeth-gnashing trial, try co-ordinating the diaries of international megastars to make themselves available for a certain day. Nile wrote endearingly, "Hey Mark, unfortunately it's absolutely impossible for me to be there, and it's a shame because that really is one of the best photos of CHIC ever!.. and I'd love to be there to be with you and the genius who took that shot...N",  but we were honoured by a magnificent turn out of clients / friends including local hero Andrew Roachford, crime writer supreme Jake Arnott, MOBO winner Soweto Kinch, Theo Jackson (Bedlam's bad ass musical ambassador); Dave Swift, Steve Murray, Simon Willis, Mr. Harrop from't Mill (Huddersfield Fine Worsteds), Selin and baby Henry, my Ma & Pa, Mark's oldest son Harry, cousin Cayenne, a heap of my godchildren - Marcello & Mathilde, Tommy & Bonnie, Ingmar Patton (great grandson of General P whose graduation suit is currently under construction), Jakub our handsome house model, Vivienne and her handsome brood, and even two horses from the Vauxhall City Farm with their lovely ladies. My god-daughter Mathilde sat atop Molly and Marcela Curbishley (a fine equestrian and wife of Roger's manager Bill) sat upon the other, Pimms. She has a fine horse called Duchess that you may recognise from the leaderboard of the Horse of the year Show, so we thought it would be funny to have her on a proper Lambeth cobb. 

Jill works extraordinarily fast - part of her appeal to the busy rock god - and she had a little team from Hasselblad to assist. Soweto brought his sax, Andy Davies brought his trumpet, as did Jay Phelps while young Noah brought his trombone. Dave Swift brought his double bass (you may have spotted him in the Christmas TV ad for Asda with Jools and the rest of the band, wearing our suit). My heart supplied the percussion when they all started to play and I wondered if the horses might spook and someone lose a tooth. other than one relived itself rather too near Mr Murray for his comfort, they were statues of good behaviour.

There are so many photographs that I shall direct you to the album I made earlier in time honoured TV cookery style:

And here is the shot that the magazine chose:

I have to run home for dinner now before we go to the closing night of the Vauxhall Pleasure Ground Ice Rink, but I shall return later to put up some more images from that wonderful day that caught so perfectly what we are about - a democracy of style and syncopated harmony. We are truly grateful to Jill, and Marcus the Ed. and Mr Webster at the magazine for making it happen. We later got to reciprocate in a small way by taking Jill to meet Nile where she presented him with a print of that moment in time most dear to him, so everybody came away smiling.

Back in a bit, so if you read this early addition, do please check back for the later amendments, in between having the Best Year of Your Lives, with health and happiness in rare abundance. Our thanks  for your enthusiasm and support, it is our very succour.
Caroline & Mark