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London Letter: A Body Not Subudued By Travel Clothes

...Kazumi is beautiful by any standards, and I hope by Japanese standards, but I don’t know what judgments her home country uses. She is small and compact with a body that is not subdued by travel clothes and she moves quietly but with an almost stealthy rhythm that looks inspired by ballet...

The inimitable Henry Jackson – England’s oldest columnist – tells of another of the women in his life and also brings his weekly pot-pourri of news from London and other delights.

To read more of Henry’s columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/london_letter/

The London I Love

I’m leaving because the weather is too good. I hate London when it’s not raining---Groucho Marx


For the first time in a year the price of an average house in London has fallen below £300,000. Biggest falls were registered in Wandsworth, Tower Hamlets and Merton. London boroughs where the average house is valued at less than £200,000 are Dagenham, Barking, Bexley and Newham. Sales in some areas are down by 50%.


The site of the former Greenwich District Hospital in South-East London is to be converted into a new development of 645 homes, leisure facilities, a new square and business places costing £250m. It will be known as “The Heart of East Greenwich” and will contain two doctor’s surgeries, a library, a crèche, shops and cafes. The homes will be made up of one, two and three bedroom flats, maisonettes and four bedroom houses aimed at key or low-paid workers.


London bus and Underground fares are to be increased by 6% from the New Year, the Mayor of London announced. But some off peak fares will be cut to encourage travellers to travel after 9.30 am.


The Saatchi Art Gallery will open in its new headquarters in the King’s Road, Chelsea, on October 9 with an exhibition of Chinese contemporary paintings. Entrance will be free.


The right of Freemen of the City of London to drive sheep across London Bridge as a public protest dates back to the 11th Century. And on Saturday Amanda Cottrell, who became a Freeman a year ago, exercised her right to draw attention to her campaign to raise £50m for St Paul’s Cathedral and a scheme backing local food production by driving a flock of sheep across London Bridge.


The Playboy Club in Park Lane that was the foundation of Hugh Heffner’s club and casino empire between 1966 and 1982 is to become a small but exclusive 48 room hotel.


England’s first Hindu State School, the Krishna Avanti, opens this month in Edgware, North London. It will cater for 236 pupils and have its own temple and vegetarian catering facilities. Pupils will receive lessons in Sanskrit and yoga.


Tabir Ali, aged 49, of Ramsgate, Kent, was sentenced to 17 years imprisonment at Southwark Court for raping an East London woman twice at knifepoint two weeks after she had given birth. Ali and two other masked men broke into her house and after the rape left with cash and jewellery. Ali, the father of a nine-year-old son, was convicted in 1982 for two previous rapes.


The original artwork for the Rolling Stones iconic lips and tongue symbol has been bought in the U.S. by the Victoria & Albert Museum for £51,375. The logo was designed in 1970 by the artist John Pasche who received £50 for his design. The Rolling Stones have used it all over the world to back their promotions.


A 1939 Vincent Rapide motor cycle sold at Bonham’s auction in London for a record £214,800. Another motor cycle, a 1929 Zenith Jap combination, went for £177,500.


Conde Nast travel magazine voted London the best city to visit in the UK. Readers said it was No 1 in nightlife, culture and entertainment and had the best restaurants.


Poems for Posterity

by Henry Jackson

Mariposa is a boundless beauty
That flits into your life
Fills the day with wonder
At the infinite care
Of Nature the Creator
And tears your heart asunder.
If it settles within reach
With a floating flutter of wings,
Just stay still and watch
As it rests without weight
Quivering, hesitant and delicate
In colours impossible to match.
Each moment of this miracle
With sun, fragrant flowers
And gentle beauty ever closer
Makes me think of you,
My luck is without bounds,
For you are my mariposa.

July 8 1995

Note: Mariposa---Spanish for butterfly.


Today in History

1818. Mary Shelley, wife of the poet, wrote the horror story “Frankenstein”.

1887. First performance of Verdi’s opera “Otello” at La Scala, Milan.

1898. Lord Kitchener destroyed Mahdi’s tomb at Omdurman.


Famous quotes

The quickest way to end a war is to lose it---George Orwell

If a man does not know to which port he is steering no wind is favourable to him---Seneca

England and America are two countries divided by a common language.
George Bernard Shaw


The Women in My Life---8

Kazumi lives in Osaka, Japan’s second largest city, but is in love with Europe and particularly Britain. I first met her in London 15 or 16 years ago a year after my friend Sue brought her sister round for a drink and a chat. In my Visitors Book their comments are written on opposite pages and Kazumi’s is accompanied by an amusing drawing that is a reflection of her talent as a professional graphic artist.

I met her for a second time many years later, again accompanied by Sue, when she was on a whistle stop tour of Europe. She was doing it the hard way with an enormous backpack and using the cheapest form of transport.

In London this meant avoiding taxis and using buses and the Underground and she is an authority on fares and timetables. Outside London she travelled by coach. She arrived in England by Singapore Airlines because it is the cheapest airline on the route.

Kazumi is beautiful by any standards and I hope by Japanese standards but I don’t know what judgments her home country uses. She is small and compact with a body that is not subdued by travel clothes and she moves quietly but with an almost stealthy rhythm that looks inspired by ballet.

I don’t know the colour of her eyes because they are twinkling pools of mystery that light up when she smiles almost like the beams of a lighthouse on a distant shore and stopped me from thinking. I have never seen her laugh out loud because this is not in line with her serenity. Her smooth and silky complexion can only be compared with a saucer of milk. Her teeth are perfect and her hair is slightly unruly and falls across her face in great style as if it were fashioned by a master hairdresser.

When she returned for a second time she did a tour of the British Isles and made my home her HQ for the 30 days of her visit. Before she arrived she e-mailed her itinerary that looked like the programme of a Presidential tour with arrival and departure dates, names, addresses, telephone and e-mail addresses. The tour involved visits to me and then Kensington, Norwich, Ipswich, Derby, Salisbury, Wales and Bangor.

On the day after she arrived I took her to Annaliese’s christening party and she was immediately the centre of attraction for most of the men present. She coped with them with ease and a smile never let her face.

A day or two later she went off by coach to Norwich then came back and went on to Derby. Then she went to mid Wales to stay with Sue and telephoned later to inform me how she was getting on.

When she rang off I felt as if the sun had stopped shining.

When she returned we talked for hours and I tried to get to the core of her personality but somehow it eluded me. She gave me immediate answers always with a fleeting flashing smile but I felt that she was ahead of my questions. I ventured into dangerous territory and asked about her love life and she intimated that she had no experience of men. I found this difficult to believe because she had reached the age of 42, although she looked a lot less.

And I remembered that when we parted on the last occasion she had kissed me with a burst of passion that needed practise and would have been impossible to achieve without experience.

Kazumi has no brothers or sisters and lives in her parents’ home. She carries out her work as a graphic designer from home but in the present stormy state of the Japanese economy work is increasingly scarce. And what work there is goes first to women in their 20s even if their work is not up to Kazumi’s standards

Before she returned to Japan she came and stayed with me once or twice more and I watched carefully to see if she would consider a closer relationship. Of course, I accepted that she could be saving up for someone nearer her own age but at 42 and out of the radius of her parents I felt that she should have been ready for an experience long overdue. But it never happened.

I am glad that she decided to come to London and delighted that she decided to stay with me and I will always regard her with affection.


The Natural History Museum in South Kensington has unveiled details of a spectacular new wing that will house its 34 million plant and insect specimens and laboratories for up to 200 researchers and scientists and visitors will be able to see them at work. The wing opens in a year and will be temperature controlled and known as the Darwin Centre Phase II. It is designed around an iconic 8-storey “Cocoon” encased within a glass atrium.


Fifteen people were charged at Southwark Crown Court with smuggling Chinese immigrants illegally into England from France and Belgium. The prosecution stated that they made large sums of money from poor people who saved for a long time to make the trip.


Dean Oxley, aged 30. of Lewisham, South-East London, was gaoled for 12 years at Kingston Court for directing a gang of robbers who stole jewellery worth more than £1m from London shops. Eleven other members of the gang were sentenced to between three and seven years.


Rings, necklaces and other jewellery worth more than £300,000 were stolen from the boot of a BMW while a leading jeweller was trading in the London diamond centre of Hatton Garden.



I am getting over a very unpleasant and painful attack of food poisoning. The cause is a mystery but it may be something to do with an electricity failure that put my fridge out of order and in the process tainted some of the food. However the good news is that I am on the mend but it was a very nasty experience.


Friends & Family

Lorraine (East Ham)
The children went back to school on Wednesday.

Polly (Bristol)
Just returned from a holiday in Normandy where they stayed in a beautiful farmhouse with a garden of apple trees and surrounded by fields with dairy cattle and maize. The nearest village Camembert was 4km away. They had dinner sitting outside in a large garden or inside around a large kitchen table. They visited Bayeux to see the Tapestry and the British war cemetery with rows of graves of young men who died in 1944 and it brought tears to their cheeks.

Gillian (Totnes)
Just returned from three weeks holiday in the U.S. and started off her twin boys in their new school, Torquay Grammar School.



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