A haircut in Sadler’s Wells

Click on a picture to see a larger version

I decided that today was haircut day so after breakfast and only a moderate amount of Web surfing, off I went.

Window cleaners
Window cleaners

At the end of Pentonville Road, near the Co-op Bank, I spotted these chaps, high above the street, clean­ing the windows of an office block. I am sure they are safe but their position looked pretty precarious to me, scared of heights, as I am. I wondered what it is like to go to work in a tin box. If you click to look at the larger version, you can see the reflection of one of the big cranes being used in the rebuilding of the Angel Centre.

Barber Shop
Barber Shop

I go to a barber’s in Rosebery Avenue. It’s a typical barber shop with two barbers, though only one was on duty today. You can see that the recession is biting in the fact that they are offering a “Credit Crunch Cut” at £7.50, though their normal prices are already modest.

Since the smoking ban came into force, they have put chairs outside for customers wanting to smoke while awaiting their turn.

Sadler's Wells Theatre
Sadler’s Wells Theatre

You may notice a couple of other interesting details. For one thing, the shop was established in 1943: I wonder what it was like trying to start a business right in the middle of WWII, not knowing whether your shop would even survive.

For another, notice the discreet mention of “Sadlers Wells”. Yes, that’s the famous theatre just down the road that calls itself “London’s Dance House” but in fact has a worldwide reputation.

Lilian Bayliss Studio
Lilian Bayliss Studio

The modern building has a rather anodyne appearance. In fact, you could easily mistake in for an office block or a college. Perhaps that’s why they drape banners on the front proclaiming “Sadler’s Wells is dance”, in case you miss it on the way past.

The Lilian Bayliss Studio, a separate smaller venue within Sadler’s Wells, commemorates Lilian Bayliss, the theatre director made Sadler’s Wells the premier theatre of dance.

Sadler’s Wells is named after a Mr Dick Sadler who opened a “musick house” on the site in the 1680s. In the gardens, he discovered a medieval medicinal well, and being a true entrepreneur, turned it into a spa offering health-giving waters. Hence the “Wells” part of the name.

Lilian Bayliss's tree
Lilian Bayliss’s tree

Since then the theatre has been through many changes and suffered periods of decline, successively becoming a skating rink and a cinema, before recovering and achieving its status as a show case of modern dance.

This Aesculus Indica or Indian Horse Chestnut tree in the gardens opposite the theatre was planted in 1974 in memory of Lilian Bayliss.

Angel of Peace
Angel of Peace

Presiding over the garden from the top of a war memorial is this winged figure which, I assume, is an angel of peace.

She (for the figure appears to be female) is not the only winged inhabitant of the gardens, some of whom stretch their familiarity to the point where they perch upon her plinth and even upon her person, from where they have a good view of the comings and goings in the garden.

Feasting pigeons
Feasting pigeons

This morning, however, they had abandoned their vantage point and were feasting on the ground on what appeared to be a goodly portion of noodles.

So intent were they in their banqueting that they took very little notice of me creeping up on them to take this photo. There was so much food that there was none of the usual squabbling.

A blackbird cautiously approaches
A blackbird cautiously approaches

The happy sounds were enough to attract the attention of a blackbird. For a while he eyed me suspiciously from among the leaves but then cautiously approached the throng of pigeons. I was lucky to get this shot because a second later he darted forward, grabbed a quick beakful and flew off.

It was now my turn to leave because when I first reached the barber’s shop, even though the open sign was showing, the door was locked. So I went for a wander with a view to returning. This time the door was open but by now there were others in front of me and I had to wait. Never mind, I got my haircut and had a pleasant walk.


About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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4 Responses to A haircut in Sadler’s Wells

  1. Peter Harvey says:

    Back in the mid-seventies I worked on the twentieth floor of Euston Tower. Every so often one of those boxes would appear at the window out of nowhere, and the men would clean the windows and then disappear as mysteriously as they had appeared.

    • SilverTiger says:

      I would love to go up one of those tall buildings just for the experience and for the view. Maybe one day…

      I admire people who work at heights. I couldn’t do it. From the top of a bus in Edinburgh I once watched aghast as a window cleaner unbuckled his safety harness and strolled along a ledge several stories above the street while engaged in an animated conversation with a colleague.

  2. Peter Harvey says:

    The canteen in Euston Tower was on the top (35th) floor. The roof was open for after-lunch strolling and had as good a view as the restaurant in the Post Office Tower — better in fact because the PO tower obstructed lees of the view from ET than vice versa.

    Once, here in Barcelona, I watched a high crane being built. Another crane was used to raise the parts but there were men walking along the jib of the new one to secure them in place.

    • SilverTiger says:

      In similar vein, one day while Liverpool Street Station was being refurbished, I watched half a dozen men stroll along a girder high above our heads and then climb down scaffolding around the pillar at the end. They must have been confident in their ability not to stumble or trip. My heart was in my mouth watching them but they seemed quite nonchalant.

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