Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Goodbye Willie Booth

Today I went to Westminster to celebrate the life of The Reverend Prebendary Willie Booth, a much loved friend of many and a significant figure in my own formative years at the palace.

It was a lovely memorial service, full of fond anecdotes as well as many musical and literary delights and this passage particularly struck a chord:


To laugh often and love much;
to win the respect of intelligent persons
and the affection of children;
to earn the approbation of honest critics
and to endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty;
to find the best in others;
to give of one's self;
to leave the world a little better,
whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;
to have played and laughed with enthusiasm
and sung with exultation;
to know that even one life has breathed easier
because you have lived -
this is to have succeeded.

attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, 19 October 2009

Life meets Death at Wapping Project

It’s rare that we are actually made to confront death so boldly as we are at the Wapping Project’s Death Drive exhibition where nine evocative photographs by Dean Rogers meticulously capture the scenes of iconic celebratory deaths.

Rogers took the photos on the anniversary and at the exact time and place that Jayne Mansfield, Marc Bolan, Albert Camus, Grace Kelly, Eddie Cochrane, Princess Diana, James Dean, Jackson Pollock ad Helmut Newton met their end. The results are morbidly fascinating and eerily beautiful.

The show, which runs until 1 November also includes a fabulous ‘Crash’ type a-z by Deborah Levy..."a perilous road trip through death, celebrity and the automobile". Then, in the back room is ‘Signal 30’, an Ohio Highway Patrol road safety film for schools made in 1959. Nothing is spared and it’s not for the faint hearted. They’d never get away with it now, although perhaps they should. The horrid waste of it all. More here at one of the most irritating websites ever.

If that sounds a bit too sinister but you haven’t been to the Wapping Project, go anyway. Once a hydraulic power station, the gallery is such a unique space and free to enter, and the spacious restaurant, though a bit pricey, serves really imaginative food. The real draw though is that you eat surrounded by the original pulleys and machinery - a legacy of the building’s past.