London: St James’s — angel or Eros?

It is time for the last album of my short September stay in UK. 🙂

This time it is the royal neighbourhood. It is not possible not to write about two places on the opposite sides of St Jame’s, which are Picadilly Circus and Buckingham Palace. It is hard to find anybody who has not heard about them.

Because there is no one who has not heard about one of the most expensive advertisement walls in the world at Picadilly Circus, pieces of which are constantly owned by world biggest companies. And the aluminium small sculpture at the top of a little fountain, which often can be easily observed on the background of the red ad of Coca-Cola. It is the Eros. Because what can be more ironic than a statue of true love in the middle of a famous square of commerce. But even though the tourists call it Eros, it is actually Anteros, who is responsible for love… unrequited and betrayed. Huh. But the history is even more complicated. It was a statue honouring A. Coopera, nineteenth-century philanthropist, who campaigned for rights of children working in factories. But the sculptor had Anteros on sale, so they decided to let it be, because it is a symbol of an “altruistic, considerate, mature and difficult” love. But the existence of a nude sculpture in public caused outrage in the society, so it was quickly renamed to be a sculpture of an “angel of christian mercy”. Life goes on. Last evening I was sitting here for a while. The sight of gliding colourful crowds and black, red buses lightened by the colours of the wall of advertisements is one of most intense my memories from this city.

An the Buckingham Palace on the other side of St James’s is the seat of the monarchy since Queen Victoria. It has a lot of predecesors (Westminster, Whitehall, St James), but sooner or later partially or completely they were consumed by fires and so the kings and queens ended up here (but formally the court is still named (St James – and the ambassadors are accredited “by the Court of St James”), in a huge (775 rooms), but slightly indistinct palace. Since the fire in the Windsor castle (initially to collect some money for the renovation), during the vacation of the Queen, the palace can be visited (after buying an expensive entry ticket) in August and September. So I went there. It is impressive how ably they move around the crowds of visitors. You walk through 19 most representative rooms (taking pictures is not allowed) and a fragment of royal gardens (perfect!). Maybe it is worth to see it once in your live. Because it is a strange thing this whole monarchy and the Queen (who is now 90 years old). It seems impressive, all this time in the public eye every day. You may laugh at amusing hats and at English artificial grimace of smile sticked constantly to the face. Like with Eros-Anteros, or the „Christian angel of mercy” — you cannot tell what is true and what is unrequited. Altruistic or selfish. But the live around goes on.

Time to go further on.

(August, 2015 )