I've been learning how to drive. Yes, I know, I should have knocked it off when I was 18 ( if I had £1 for every person who tells me so). I've made a rod for my own back, learning in London is stressful. I would love to be back at home in Berkshire, rolling down country roads in wide open spaces. Instead, I hold my breath, trying not to clip wing mirrors passing down claustrophobic victorian streets where everyone parks on BOTH sides. Worryingly, it's also confirmed what family and friends have known for years; distraction is my middle name. Paul (my instructor), I hope you are not reading this. Anything from puppies to bakeries and old buildings can get my pulse racing, when my eyes should be on the road. In my defense, I am new to this part of town. Secretly, years of not holding a license has afforded me the opportunity to sit back and daydream. Being driven round London, particularly through Westminster, is a favourite though rare pastime. Waiting at the traffic lights on my last lesson, this little shop caught my eye. M.Winger, Watchmaker & Jewellers. The building dates from 1888, though the business first occupied the building from 1908. The shop fit, was believed to be carried out in the 1920s but it looks earlier to me. The exterior and interior have a distinctly Edwardian and Art Nouveau feel, popular from 1890 - 1910. I had a lovely chat with the current shop owner who also owns the pawnbrokers next door. I'll admit to always feeling a little maudlin when passing by second hand or antique engagement rings. Wondering the stories behind why people had to sell objects of such sentimental value and family treasures? Naively, I'd assumed that the pawnbroking industry was doing a roaring trade, given these austere times and the all time high price of gold. Not so apparently, this is working class area, everything that could have been sold, has been. George Osborne, take note.
Standing in a watchmaker's shop, it dawned on me that perhaps clocks have lost their relevance and place in the modern world. There is no need to wear a watch, when everyone has iphones whirring away in their pockets. And what of the soothing "tick tock" of clocks which seemed to have vanished from our mantlepieces? Undoubtably, it is a vanishing industry and a great shame when they represent so much. Well, I enjoy a little bit of rebellion against the vanguard, especially as I am yet to join the iphone generation. I have my heart set on the idea of an elegant cocktail watch to adorn my little wrist. My timekeeping is terrible, I have this eternal optimism that I can fit it all in, when really I can't (ring any bells, fellow offender K.Mort?). Maybe this is what I need to set me back on track and what better reminder of the cocktail hour?
Original shop fittings.......to die for.
I am in love with this old factory clock used for workers to "clock in and clock off", as demonstrated in the picture below.
The current shop owner showed me an original telegram from the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11 month, 1918, declaring the end of the Great War. A fantastic piece of history to own.