I mentioned on October 23rd that we had been to Brighton with friends but I did not mention then that when we changed trains at East Croydon, I left my shoulder bag on the train! I eventually contacted lost property and they took down my details, saying that if they found the bag, it would take up to a week to let me know. As a week has passed, I can only assume that the bag has either not been recovered or has not been matched with my claim.
So this morning I set off on foot to Kings Cross, intending to buy a new bag in a luggage shop there. I walked, partly for the exercise, but also because there is a tube strike today which means the roads are jammed and it is quicker to go by Shanks’s pony than to take the bus.
Another reason for walking was because I wanted to take another look at the park on the way. This photo, taken from one end, may give you some idea of the park’s history. Note the gravestones piled against the far wall and the copper features in the foreground.
The section of the park shown in the picture used to be the burial ground of Pentonville Chapel, later known as St James’s Episcopal Chapel (built 1787-8), which was demolished in 1980. The burial ground had already become a public garden in the 19th century and was extended in the 20th.
The park has a combination of shaded areas, as in the first photo, and open grass, such as the dog-free area above, fenced off and entered by a gate.
The park includes a basketball court and the adventure playground shown in the above photo. For many people, however, the importance of the park has to do with a person whose grave is preserved in the old burial ground.
You may be able to read the name on the plate in front of the grave but, if not, the name of the park gives away his identity: The Joseph Grimaldi Park. I am told that professional clowns and entertainers visit the grave to this day.
Joseph Grimaldi (1778-1837) lived and died near here in Clerkenwell. His debut on stage, at the age of 3, was in Sadler’s Wells, but a stone’s throw away. He grew up to be much loved by the public and admired by professionals. The familiar word “Joey”, meaning a clown, comes from his name. It’s good to think that he is still held in people’s affection today and is celebrated by the borough in which he lived.
The oldest features of the park are perhaps the walls which, as seen here, are bulging in places and have had to be buttressed.
These are the copper objects I mentioned at the beginning. What do you reckon they are? They look a bit like graves and bear RIP inscriptions, one of which is to Joseph Grimaldi, whose tomb is, as we have seen, elsewhere. And why is there a grille all the way around – to let their ghosts out on Hallowe’en? And what are the panels for?
The panels are not lids – I did try them to see whether they would open! I got a glimpse of their true purpose only by accident when I irreverently walked across one of the “graves”: when you tread on a panel, this rings a bell, and each bell has a different note. Only some of the panels actually ring but I imagine all of them are supposed to do so. I therefore deduce that this is some kind of public art, reflecting the original purpose of the park.
I walked on down, almost to Kings Cross station, and found a suitable bag in the shop there. Then I walked all the way back up the hill to home because the traffic was still crawling at a snail’s pace.
Near Kings Cross station is this pub or cafe or restaurant, which rejoices in a French name. It always amuses me to see this “Bistro de la Gare”, which would certainly not be out of place in an analogous position in a town in France but looks a little strange here.
I am not sure that it is really French – the only vaguely French dish they advertise is raclette cheese – but I shouldn’t prejudge. I must go in there one of these days and find out.
I am not at all excited by the purchase of a new bag. After all, a bag is a bag is a bag, and one should not get too attached to it if one is in the habit of leaving on the train. It will do to carry my book and a raincoat and maybe one or two other things as the occasion demands. I can’t imagine that it would be of any interest to you to see it either, but, just in case, here it is. 🙂