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Songs of Old London Town

"I Live in Trafalgar Square"

Today I've been busy removing
And I'm all in a frigidy-fidge.
My last digs were on the Embankment -
the third seat from Waterloo Bridge.

But the cooking - and O! the attendants -
Didn't happen to suit me so well.
So I ordered my man to pick up
And a'look out for another hotel.

He did - and the new place is extra, I vow.
Where I'm staying now. . .

I live in Trafalgar Square
with four lions to guard me.
Fountains and statues all over the place,
And the metropolis staring me right in the face.

I'll own it's a trifle drafty,
But I look at it this way, you see:
If it's good enough for Nelson,
It's quite good enough for me.

The beds ain't so soft as they might be,
Still, the temperature's never too high.
And it's nice to see the swells who are passing
Look on you with envious eyes.

And then when you wake in the morning,
Just fancy how nice it must be,
To have a good walk for your breakfast
And the same for your dinner and tea.

There's many a swell up in Barclay tonight
Who'd be glad if he only had my appetite. . .     

Words and Music by C.S. Murphy
Publication: Francis, Day and Hunter, Ltd. (1902) 

'I Live in Trafalgar Square' was a music hall favourite, a wry celebration of homeless vagabond life, in the days when it would have been enjoyed in the old English music halls, and sung by steerage passengers travelling on the Cunard and White Star transatlantic liners. Baby Louise writes:

Dear Susan,

There have been changes to old London town since you were last here. I was in Trafalgar Square at the beginning of last week, and it has been completely altered now, with traffic being banned from the top part of the square opposite the National Gallery. Pigeons are slowly being driven from the Square by a Harris Hawk, and it is very nice without the pigeons. The lions are still guarding Nelson!

Nelson on his column, guarded by four Landseer lions, is still impressive, but Grosvenor Square is a bit strange without traffic, especially in front of the American Embassy - which is very nice inside, as when I was working for Thomas Cook & Son in the 1950/70s I used to be a member of the Library of the United States Information Service, and so got the chance to go inside this building.

What I liked to do in my lunch breaks then was to take a walk to the temple of fashion in those days: Carnaby Street, located just behind Regent Street, and look at the latest fashions on parade. I was in my middle twenties at the time and liked what I saw very much. Bring back the 1960's female fashions, that’s what I say!

Big Ben is dominated from the South Bank of the river by the British Airways’ London Eye, which stands at 450ft above the river next to the old former County Hall.

Hungerford Bridge, which leads into Charing Cross Station, has two new Golden Jubilee footbridges, one of them on the site of the temporary bridge to the Festival of Britain site in 1951. I remember this well, as I was a ten years old school boy at the time.

Oxford Street is strange, with its wide pavements and narrow roadway, as most of the traffic has been banned from this area now: only buses and taxis and some lorries, and that’s your lot.
Baby Louise

Baby Louise has sent some pictures, taken with his high quality digital camera, of the four lions at the base of Nelson's column, which were designed by Sir Edward Landseer. In cricket, a batsman who scores 111 runs has scored an 'Admiral Nelson' because Horatio Nelson had one eye, one leg, and one ambition.

landseer lion

The mini skirt was a famous feature of London life in the 1960s, but you needed a pair of very warm tights in winter. Baby Louise points out that mini skirts came in three sizes: short, very short, and good morning judge. It was said then that sometimes Nelson's stony stare, and he was a man who always had an eye for the ladies, was seen to follow some ravishing, long-legged filly tripping through Trafalgar Square - although the lions never showed much interest.

I favoured knife-pleated tartan minis, pale blue or black tights, and thigh high boots when I was in my 20s in London, in the days when London was bursting with life, and was the premier city of the world.

In the next issue: 'Underneath the Arches'.

portable gramophone

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