Sunday, June 11, 2006
Leaving the park to cross Pall Mall I can hear music. Definitely muffled drums. Possibly a trumpet. The crowds of tourists at the foot of the avenue outside Buckingham Palace give the game away. The Changing of the Guard. A ceremony we've not seen before.
Pall Mall is a strange place. Named after the game paille-maille introduced by Charles II (he had the avenue cut through the park to play it), it consists of black cabs and tourists. One of those few places in London where you don't feel you belong. It's only purpose is for passing through.
I love the idea of the tunnels running from the Palace to Whitehall and Downing Street. Little used now I should think. Just right for a childish royal prank on the Prime Minister. How could one resist?
Two men, street cleaners in City of Westminster overalls, are taking it in turns to pose and take photos of one another. The Palace, disappointing in my view, too plain, their backdrop.
The guards exiting the Palace catch up by surprise. Mounted guard at the front and rear. No-one is blocking our view so I try a quick photo. I have to run to keep up with their seemingly-effortless march. Shot ends up nothing more than a blur.
Andrew Duncan describes Green Park as “the plainest of the central parks with no lake or fountains and very few flowers”. The lack of buildings could have something to do with their unfortunate history: in 1749 buildings were destroyed during a royal firework display and in 1814 the Temple of Concord exploded. (Glinert).
The plainest but the friendliest. A tip of the head from an impeccably-dressed Asian man and a “How do?” from an upright-looking Northerner.