We spent yesterday evening watching Julien Temple's brilliant film, London: The Modern Babylon: a slightly surreal scrapbook of London images, beautifully edited, thought-provoking and at times, moving. It's a more than a worthy addition to the growing backlist of London documentaries, which include Norman Cohen's The London Nobody Knows (1969) and Patrick Keiller's London (1994). Julien Temple has caught the zeitgeist: with the success of the Olympics, London's suddenly very much the place to be at the moment; there's a positive vibe in the air. With all its chaos.
All this coincides with the re-publication in paperback of photographer Clive Boursnell's Old Covent Garden; an evocative collection of images taken during the 1960s' and 70's, before the fruit, vegetable and flower market was relocated to the brutalist wasteland of Nine Elms. I can just about remember the old market as a child- we must have driven past it on the way to the theatre. Newspapers lying on the cobbles, cartons of rancid fruit, Victorian green painted barrows, the smell of sulphuric, rotting cabbage. To think that the bowler hatted bureaucrats had plans to drive a motorway right through the middle of it! Can you imagine?
Alfred Hitchcock set one of his last films, Frenzy, there, two years before the market closed. I'm also a huge fan of Cecil Beaton's romanticised designs for My Fair Lady.
Old Covent Garden: The Fruit, Vegetable and Flower Markets by Clive Boursnell is published by Frances Lincoln in paperback and is priced at £12.99.