By Andrew Baker Esq.
With British Summer Time finally affording the assemblage evening daylight hours, congregation was successful amongst the ancient courts of Chancery. Southampton Buildings is secreted between the Inns and Bars of Staples and Lincolns Inn Fields, and houses what has been since the days of Curtis Mccann and the Bank of America the Gas Banks; the genesis of said sobriquet, dear readership, unknown to your benevolent chronicler. Opinion and conjecture were gently aired upon the hue and saturation of chosen curiosity – Is it Battleship blue or Gun Metal grey?
Entertaining common regard for the curbstone atop, and scant disregard for the window abrupt, rear-truck pivoting took place (Yours Truly) and other such variations (Smith – HK, Tail – JD) which were certainly pleasing to behold. However the latent mischievousness of the Gas Banks did not procrastinate, and was rude in its uptake of claiming said participants. I received a good wallop, James Davis a speedy lick of the flat, and Bradley Griffiths the most unfortunate of primo’s to send him sliding (grinding?) homeward with a sharp awakening upon the elbow.
Not fearing such interruptions (as indeed are common dear reader) and the fire within our hearts renewed, the skating continued notwithheld with a bank-to-manual alternative from Milo, and Charlie Graley disappearing over the hip as if a Gloucestershire dale.
Alas our natural light was replaced once again by the artificial of the Roman City, and sent us forth in direction St Mary Le Strand: southbound along Chancery Lane. Then west behind The Royal Courts of Justice and the London School of Economics to emerge upon that Grand Thoroughfare – The Kingsway. Consequently intersected and on once again toward the Elysian fields of Victorian theatre – Drury Lane.
Hardby and along the way Mr Davis happened upon a rather odd piece of architecture; a Great Wedge, the surface of which verisimilitudes that of an open-air swimming pool – tiled and rather slidy. This incongruence was swiftly undertaken to be an object of our interest, and with plenty of up’s and off’s (and more than a few not-quite-ups-to-prostrated slidings about) our intrigue and pleasure was culminated in Bradleys ollie out of tiled wedge and into Kemble Street, captured photographically by the good benefactor Henry Kingsford, and witnessed with considerable indifference by those requiring nicotine and the higher-educational benefits of the institution ‘City Lit’.
On again and under the window where Dickens worked as a child in the filthy blacking factories, circumventing Freemasons Hall, along Great Queen St and Long Acre into Covent Garden. Onwards south-west toward the rookerys of Seven Dials and the Hogarthian gin-soaked alleys of St Giles.
Decision was made at the Charing Cross Road and Brewer Street car park was made for through the lascivious districts of Old Compton St and environs. The top floor of this testament to the late 20th Century is the receptacle for a most awkward and steep bank and hip, the spectacle of which allowed me to appreciate the difficulty and skill required in skating it. James Graley and most managed carves, James Davis was facile with frontside ollies.
The steady and unbroken surface of our chosen arena encouraged those of a flatland disposition to continue the performances notwithheld, with Jacob recording Ben, until alas the moment arrived whence we descend as fast as one dares down to the street and into nearby tavern.
As we departed the concrete carbuncle and harbourer of our instincts we happened upon a rather unsalubrious ne’er-do-well who attempted to chastise us for our genius. Sending the malevolent rogue on his way we found ourselves in Beak St where we gladly patronised the Old Coffee House Inn. A charming establishment (except for the recent aquisition of two televisions) with a gladly bar-lady who, on the contrary to the ne’er-do-well, expressed interest in our activities and made us feel very welcome.
And finally, as the curfew tolled the knell of closing time, we each headed home for another day in the direction of the Oxford St buses, passed where the birthplace of William Blake once stood, and where from the window of his garret he witnessed angels.