Carnaby Street review
I've got that Kinks' song going round and round my head now: "One week he's in polka-dots, the next week he's in stripes, 'cause he's a dedicated follower of fashion." All the beautiful people used to flock down here in their Mary Quant miniskirts to buy their embroidered bell-bottoms, patterned kaftan scarves and velvet flares. They called them the "Carnabetian army" and they'd stand around the shopfronts showing off their new boots and hairdos. One shop even made their models change in the window a la Amsterdam -- you couldn't get away with that nowadays. (But to be fair you couldn't get away with it back then either -- the gathering crowd got the boss arrested for obstructing the highway!)
During the Swinging Sixties Carnaby Street had some of London's best music venues on its doorstep and you had The Beatles and Rolling Stones drinking in the surrounding pubs and clubs (Paul McCartney met Linda in the Bag O'Nails). You'd be mixing with the Animals, the Small Faces, The Who... Jimi Hendrix only lived a few streets away (his flat has been turned into a museum now). But that was fifty years ago. That was before Starbucks and a branch of Boots the chemist moved in. Now it's just a shortcut between Regent Street and Oxford Street.
Nobody comes to Carnaby Street to get noticed anymore. You won't find any hippies hanging around with flowers tucked behind their ears... now its more likely to be a builder with a pencil or a cigarette.
The most interesting building is probably the big pub on the corner which was supposedly opened by two of Shakespeare's distant relatives. Check out that statue of Shakespeare in the top window. He's poking his nose over the windowsill like he's staring into the street. One of his hands got blown off in the Blitz so that's why he doesn't write any more plays -- no hands. It's also worth popping inside Kingly Court if you fancy something to eat, or just to have a quick look -- it's like a little indoor beach street with illuminated trees and tables.
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