G. rang before Christmas to say that the London Nobody Knows was back on at the ICA. She missed it last time. Would I want to see it with her? My wish of early October was likely to a reality soon. I could watch Cohen's film without having it tainted by the awful, horrendous, ridiculous World of Gilbert and George. This time around it was to be followed by St Etienne's Finisterre.
A small boy in front of me on the bus, possibly about six or seven years old, was picking his noise and sticking the bogies and not on the window. Further back on the top deck, an uncle was attempting to convince another young lad that the number 15 actually travels to the moon. Once we reached Trafalgar Square we hit a long ramp and it was up, up and away to the stars...
Being early, as I am generally am, I sat and had a hot chocolate in St James's Park, despite the fact it was freezing. Next to the lake a swarm of ducks, geese, pigeons and seagulls were being fed. An old boy, wearing a cap, was stood to one side feeding a mottled pigeon which had settled on his arm and a squirrel. Both clearly know them. No food was given to anything else. Much to the amusement of the tourists, the squirrel jumped onto the fence and begged on its hind legs for a nut, hopped off, ate it and repeated the performance.
When the doors to the screen opened we were asked to move over to the left. A rather foppish Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen-type left two seats between him and us. A couple attempted to sit there but he explained they were taken. The usher sprang into action and made it very clear seats could not be saved. A battle between the dandy and the doorman – one determined to keep the seats, the other equally determined that someone other than the popinjay's friends would be sitting there – ensued. Everything ended in a bloodless draw. The attendant instructed a single man to sit next to G but the fop still managed to get a friend either side.
The film itself was, of course, excellent. The good news is that some of the places shown in '67 are in a better condition today; others don't exist anymore.
Finisterre was also worth watching. It is influenced by Fletcher's book and also Nairn's London (which is a new one on me). I came out thinking that's the kind of film I could make. I don't mean by that I have the technical skills to make a similar film but the ideas – the places and the people I would capture. Stills, moving footage, words, music. An example would be the passage that runs by the side of the National Gallery towards Leicester Square. Little-used by pedestrians it was home to a huddle of hooded skateboarders as we cut through. The London tourists and office workers from the suburbs never see.