01 April, 2011

Our Mystery Lodger About to ‘Come Out’

You will have noted that Claire was not at her desk for a week. You might not know where she was or why she was away. The answers are: she was in the USA; she went to Ithaca for the orientation of the summer and fall 2011 groups. The next question is - why wasn’t I doing orientation in the USA? You will also note that, unusually, I did not go on the Wales trip last Friday. The answer to these questions is bound up with an administrative detail that I can now reveal - at least in part. I needed to be here to finalise details of a celebration that will take place here next month.

It begins with an invitation. First, Claire will be looking for 6 work study volunteers to work a special event on Wednesday night April 20th. Second, a lucky 20 of you - names to be drawn from a hat*** - will be invited to the London Centre to a social gathering with speeches, etc.  Sounds boring, but it won’t be, because a piece of rock and roll history of swinging 1960's London will occur that night. The IC Board of Trustees, in cooperation with English Heritage, and with the encouragement of the Mayor’s Office for London and London 2012 [Cultural Olympiad], has agreed to the placing of a ‘blue plaque’ on the front of our building.  There will be press here, acquaintances of the person to be honoured, and representatives from the home campus including a reporter from The Ithacan.. The project is also part of London 2012, creating more opportunities for tourists to explore interesting parts of the city when not at the Games. [The week after, English Heritage will again be in the area unveiling a plaque to the Irish writer, Samuel Beckett, who lived penniless in a room on Wetherby Gardens in the 1930s.] For an example, see the plaque to W S Gilbert on number 39 Harrington Gardens.

What’s happening?  Kensington & Chelsea records reveal that a well known rock musician, who died in the 1970s, lived and worked at 35 Harrington Gardens between May 1965 and April 1968. He was even arrested here in 1966 after a police raid found illicit substances on the premises [you can read about it in the September 15th, 1966 edition of the Kensington Chronicle.] He was not the only such 1960s rocker to live nearby. Brian Jones, the first leader of the Rolling Stones, lived at number 15 Courtfield Road [one street north of us] in the 60s and John Lennon, his first wife, Cynthia, and  baby son, Julian, lived at 9 Emperor’s Gate [now demolished] just the other side of the Cromwell Road. A blue historical plaque, placed just over the window of Claire’s office will be unveiled at 5 pm on April 20th.  The Lady Mayor of the Royal Borough, Councillor Janice Roberts-Smith, will unveil the plaque, along with a member of the IC Board of Trustees and one of the deceased rocker’s fellow band members. I‘m not at liberty to tell you who, but I can give you a hint. Even I have heard of this band, although I don‘t own any of their music. CLUE: There are 3 surviving members of the band, one with the first initial ‘J’, one with the first initial ’P’ and the un-veiler has the initial ‘R‘. The first 6 letters of the name of one of our faculty members are also the first six letters of the musician’s name. THE FIRST TO GUESS THE IDENTITY OF OUR MYSTERY LODGER GETS A FIVER.

The deceased musician never married, but had a string of girlfriends during this period, one of whom, bore him a son in July 1967. She lived in number 35 for 13 months and raised their child here for the first 6 months of his life. [Unfortunately much like Cynthia Lennon who came upon John bunked down with Yoko Ono in their Surrey mansion in 1967, our hero (?), like a true rock star, was something of a philanderer who was often found with his trousers around his ankles. She left him and went back to her native Germany where she raised her son and became good friends with Astrid Kirchherr, the 5th Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe’s fiance.]

The highlight of the evening from my perspective is that the woman will do a mini walking tour of the building explaining the layout of the rooms in her period of residence. So on April 20th, we will know where the master bedroom was [was it room 5, 4, 2??] where the music rooms were, and where the parties were held [has to be the common room].

Hope you’re one of the 20.

***NB. Attendance at a play or musical event, backstage tour etc., takes precedence over the event.

Could it be any of the well-known artists shown here?

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