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Saturday, 8 June 2013

London Monopoly (18): Coventry Street

This is the second property in the 'Yellow' set on my tour of the London Monopoly board.
The Prince of Wales Theatre, Coventry Street, London
Coventry Street is situated in the heart of London's West End connecting Trafalgar Square to Piccadilly Circus.  The street is fairly unremarkable but, as is often the case, there is something interesting to say about it. Currently it is where the Prince of Wales Theatre is situated and that's where the hottest ticket in town will get you in to see The Book of Mormon, "God's favourite musical".
It is also the location of the famous Café de Paris which since the twenties was the home of stars and royalty. Cole Porter was a regular and would often try out his new songs there. It was also a favoured haunt of Frank Sinatra,  Marlene Dietrich, Grace Kelly and many others. In March 1941 a huge German bomb came through four floors of heavy masonry and killed over thirty people. Perhaps the best-known victim of the Café de Paris bombing was the musician, Ken 'Snake-hips' Johnson. His parents had sent him from the then colony of British Guiana in 1929 because they had hopes of him becoming a doctor and they wanted him to have a British education. Somehow, I find individual stories more moving than that of mass killings. 
These days it is renowned for the various flamboyant night-club evenings where the 'ladies' seem to have some grey stubble and rather deep voices.

Two views of the luxurious Café de Paris interior as it is today

In the 1890s a French bookseller called Charles Hirsch had a shop there which became infamous as a source of homosexual pornography, (the word 'gay' had a different meaning then). Apparently Oscar Wilde was regular customer. Goodness what a portrait of London I am painting! I suppose that will be appealing or appalling according to your bent.....I say live and let live.





6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hot from the desk of the appalling, yet fabulous, Sir Tom Eagerly:
Ah, young Bazza. I note with pleasure that you are once again publishing bits of my life story on your Blog. The good old Caff de Paree, eh? And as for the pornographic bookshop, where exactly did you say it was?

bazza said...

Sir Tom! I thought that you had gone the way of all flesh! I suppose you used to rub shoulders with the rich and famous at one time. As for the bookshop, I'm afraid to say that it's long gone.

John said...

Trust you to know about the seedy past of London Bazza! ;) Terrible!
As ever, extremely informative and I feel as if my mind has been expanded after reading this!
J
Follow me at HEDGELAND TALES

bazza said...

Well I'm flattered John, but I did have to research it you know!

klahanie said...

Ah bazza,

Thank goodness this isn't a blog hop! I bet you've been sent to Coventry Street a few times. That shop with homosexual pornography, is no longer open. Shall you consider reopening the shop again, in all its splendour, my dear fellow?

Gary

bazza said...

I will Gary if you tell me where to buy the stock ;p