Friday, April 18, 2003
Let The Sunshine In
Whenever I'm schmoozing through London's Covent Garden I take a detour down Shelton Street. The top end of it, just off Drury Lane, is an uninspiring, dark and dingy alleyway. There's a bog-standard supermarket at one end, the side-entrance to some offices halfway down, and a couple of parked motorbikes at the other end. You'd normally pass through it without a second thought.
Until you see them, painted white against the black bricks. Two lines of neat, painstakingly-formed, close-set, upper-case letters. The opening two verses of "Let The Sunshine In" from hippy musical Hair.
WE STARVE, LOOK AT ONE ANOTHER SHORT OF BREATH, WALKING PROUDLY IN OUR WINTER COATS, WEARING SMELLS FROM LAB'RATORIES, FACING A DYING NATION OF MOVING PAPER FANTASY, LIST'NING FOR THE NEW TOLD LIES WITH SUPREME VISIONS OF LONELY TUNES. SOMEWHERE, INSIDE SOMETHING, THERE IS A RUSH OF GREATNESS. WHO KNOWS WHAT STANDS IN FRONT OF OUR LIVES; I FASHION MY FUTURE ON FILMS IN SPACE. SILENCE TELLS ME SECRETLY EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING.
They've been on that same old wall for at least the fifteen years I know of. Probably a lot more. I like to think they go right back to '68 when Hair played down the road at the Shaftesbury.
They have never faded. Occasionally other graffiti is sprayed onto the wall, usually of the Shaz + Jez 4 Ever variety. Never anywhere near those lyrics. And in a couple of weeks Shaz + Jez will have been cleaned off by the council anyway. Again, never those lyrics.
Who painted them? When? Why? Does some crusty ex-hippy come by every couple of months to touch them up? Is there some sort of Preservation Order on them to protect them from the Camden Council Clean-Up Squad?
I'd love to know. Or would I? Sometimes, it's little mysteries like that which make life fun.