05 April, 2011

Keith Moon's plaque at 35 Harrington Gardens

For everyone who was duped into thinking that Keith Moon really is having a blue plaque dedicated to him at 35 Harrington Gardens, here is a rebuttal:

Yes, the ICLC has a truly rockstar past.  There was the time that the Beatles performed their last live performance together on the roof.  No, that was at Apple Corps at 3 Saville Row.  There was the first Live Aid Concert in 1985.  No, that was at Wembley.  There was the broadcast of the music video for Video Killed the Radio Star at 00:01 on 1 August 1981.  No, that was MTV.  Perhaps the rockstar history of 35 Harrington Gardens is a bit more checkered that we had originally thought.  Or perhaps the rockstar history of 35 Harrington Gardens is non-existent.  Did Keith Moon really live here for a short time?

Bill's very plausible fabrication needs to be broken apart to find the holes.  Foremost is the issue of the plaque, itself.  To have a blue plaque put up, you must petition English Heritage.  It can take months, even years to have your petition succeed, and very few do on their first try.  Its sticking point is often the proof required.  Petitioners must submit "Memories" of the person's relationship to the property.  If the person was associated with the property within the last 70 years, then there needs to be "testimony in the form of affidavits from at least 2 unrelated, living sources" who recall the person's presence there.  If no one can be found to give living testimony, then proof of the search's trial and failure must also be delivered with the petition. 

The next step involves the land registry.  If the person resided at the property this information will need to be gathered from there, a process which costs £150 per request.  I imagine we can afford this expense, but it's something to be taken under consideration in comparison to how successful the applicant thinks their petition will be.  These steps can take at least 2 years to complete in some cases.  It's plausible that Bill might have begun this process as one of his initiatives when he became the Director of the London Centre in 1997.  Also, when English Heritage puts a plaque up, it is incorporated into the structure, often involving cutting back into the brick work.  35 Harrington Gardens is a Grade II listed building, which means that we are not allowed to tamper with the exterior of the building.  To get a dispensation to do so is laborious, as only 3 are given per year.  South Kensington, being one of London's poshest areas, has a full history of notable personages.  Having checked with the council, the waiting list for a dispensation is 61 years.  That means that this petition would need to have been started some time before 1950.  Keith Moon wasn't even born until 1946.

Bill, this was one thorough April Fools joke, but we have now seen through it.
W. S. Gilbert's plaque is a recent addition to Harrington Gardens.  I can only imagine how long the neighbors waited for their dispensation.

-Claire (Elsie's plaque should be arriving one of these days)

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