Chiswick Confined – My Corona blog Week 5

Keith Richards, writer and resident of Chiswick, living on his own, has started writing a diary of his Corona lock down. Beginning on 24 March, he’s documenting the experience from his last pint in a pub onwards.

“Are you all sitting comftybold two square on your botty?

Then I’ll begin …”

 Happiness Stan

This weekend the forecast is for a warm sunny weekend, which in normal circumstances would be welcomed.  Unfortunately, in our immediate Corona context this is potentially a cause for concern.  As we head into our second month of lock down there are the early signs of locked-in fatigue and there is a danger that more people will take a risk and wander into our parks and open spaces.  On one level this is understandable and if one is careful it is possible to maintain a safe distance but this does not take into account what I call ‘the arsehole factor’.

No matter how much you try there is always some jerk in lycra who insists on jogging where it is most crowded, spraying his body fluids in a most unwelcome fashion or someone with the urgent desire to go nowhere and do nothing but to do it impatiently thus encroaching needlessly into your personal space. I have a suggestion. Instead of attempting to find a socially distanced space on Chiswick Mall or in one of the parks, take a stroll along some of our back streets.

Residents have had more time to spend on their front gardens and there seems to be renewed sense of pride.  Somehow the birdsong seems louder (though I am told most species are actually singing with less volume as they adjust for the reduction in traffic noise and other air pollution) and everything just seems less frenetic than along the high street.  To encourage you I enclose just a few pictures of the blooms I found.

Alternatively * you might to just kick off your shoes, open the windows and allow yourself and your neighbours (only if they have the same taste as you, obviously) to enjoy some chillin’ music.

“Lazy Sunday afternoon
I’ve got no mind to worry
Close my eyes and drift a-
Close my mind and drift away
Close my eyes and drift away”

Without even the pretence of having to arise at a decent time in the morning, I often find myself You Tube surfing old music videos until far too late into the night.  One of the Vinyl covers I already had pulled out for a feature was the Small Faces “Ogdens Nut Gone Flake” as they were very much one of my favourite bands as a young teenager. Originally the record was in a giant tin but this was clearly too expensive so the cover was switched to become a fold out poster of five individual cards.

Watching some early footage I heard a comment that the 1968 single “Lazy Sunday” that also features on the album was actually written in Chiswick. This surprised me as the band were clearly more from North East London. Steve Marriot worked in a music bar in Manor Park where he and Ronnie Lane met and I always assumed they lived ‘out east’. However, having found a website about the Small Faces ** the details became clearer. Apparently when the band started moving up in the world they shared a house in Pimlico until Steve moved out to live with his girl friend Jenny.  In her words, from an interview on the website….

 “I moved in with Steve and his dog at a small terraced house in Ewatt Green in Chiswick, near the river. He was having a lot of hassle with his neighbours, the Hasselewaithes, and ended up writing “Lazy Sunday” about his time there. Mind you I didn’t blame the neighbours it must have been hard living next door to him. They complained continuously about the noise and rightly so.    Steve had installed Wharfedale speakers from Olympic Studios in a living room, which measured approximately 14 feet by 12 feet!”

Now, I have not been able to find any trace of a ‘Ewatt Green’ and it would be wonderful if anyone reading this knew anything about that address or indeed the neighbours the “Hasselewaithes” who, as much as I love the music I do sympathise with, and who are now immortalised in the song.   I do have a suspicion that the name of the neighbours sounds too good to be true though!

“Wouldn’t it be nice, to get on with me neighbours
But they make it very clear, they’ve got no room for ravers
They stop me from groovin’, they bang on me wall
They’re doing me crust in, it’s no good at all, ah!”

While ‘Lazy Sunday’ is the most well-known song off the album it is the Fairy Story narrated by Stanley Unwin in his ‘Gobbledegook’ language that takes the whole of side two that makes ‘Ogden’ so unique.  It was one of the most technically ambitious albums to be made at the time, which made it impossible to play live.  In fact, the conflict between the band’s commercial singles and the tours needed to support them versus the desire to progress musically led to the tensions that culminated in their break-up only some 18 months after the success of the album.  This was a real shame in my view and not just me – the influential ‘AllMusic” site says of the album:

“Overall, this was the ballsiest-sounding piece of full-length psychedelia to come out of England, and it rode the number one spot on the U.K. charts for six weeks in 1968”

Ultimately, Steve went on to form Humble Pie while the other went on with Rod Stewart and The Faces neither of which for me were as satisfying as the original Small Faces.

So, enjoy the sunshine this weekend but stay considerate in your enjoyment of it.

* I am sorry, this is SUCH a classy Segway!

** An Interview with Jenny Marriott (February 1999) www.wappingwharf.com

Please comment by email to keith@outsiderinside.co.uk or on twitter @outsiderinside1 – check out the daily Blog on my website outsiderinside.co.uk