The London Boulevardier

A Life in a Day of The London Boulevardier

‘Why Mr Boulevardier did you travel from your  studio in
Fitzrovia to Blackburn?’ Isn’t Blackburn only famous for John Lennon’s lyrics,
‘I read the news today oh boy, four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire?
And, am I right in saying that Blackburn is a cultural wasteland?’
‘Sorry!’
‘What are your thoughts?’
‘On what?’
‘On what I’ve just asked you?’
‘I’ve no idea!’
‘Why not?’
‘I wasn’t listening.’
‘Mother..!’
‘However, I can say that having been persuaded to return to Blackburn to see the Portraits show at The Chapel Galleries
in The Bureau Centre for the Arts…’
‘You can say what?’
‘What?’
‘What can you say?’
‘What about?’
‘Blackburn.’
‘Why should I say anything about Blackburn.’
‘Because you said you were going to.’
‘Going to what?’
‘Say something about Blackburn.’
‘I was?’
‘Yes.’
‘What?’
‘Going to say something about Blackburn.’
‘I was?’
‘Do me a ******* favour!’
‘Anyway moving on, as I was going to say,
The Portraits Exhibition. Yeah! That geezer Steve McCracken
and his mate Francis Charlton had a room to themselves,
intermingling their work to the maximum effect.
If one didn’t know any better one might have thought
that they had given this hanging some serious consideration,
Steve’s expressionist gestural portraits and Francis’
measured fine art portraits were a marriage made in Hoxton.
‘Viv Owen’s snatched snaps dominated one wall in the other room.
The outstanding piece was Dannyink’s triptych, a thoughtful, measured narrative of which we may see more of in the …to be continued.
Sonny suggested, after I’d allegedly said to a passing stranger, ‘Who do I have to kill to get a expresso doppio around here?’
‘Try Liz and Lils, around the corner.’
‘Which, in fact, I did. Taking with me an actor who had pitched up at the exhibition looking for art I went in search of coffee and cake.
‘Hi,’ I said, ‘Sonny from the Bureau Centre for the Arts recommended your unique establishment, I and the actor on my arm require coffee and cake.
Liz or Lil standing behind the bar, smiled a smile and suggested we find somewhere to sit, take our time and peruse the menu, and she would discreetly interrupt us and take our order. Whilst the actor was smacking her lips at the cakes on offer, I absorbed the surroundings. I could understand why Sonny liked it, much like himself, Liz and Lils enthused a 60s/70s ambience. Sofas, easy chairs, stools, banquettes, mugs and fine China and a mish mash of art on the walls suggested that for the price of a cup of coffee, one could sit here all day and write a novel or discuss existential angst. The only thing missing was the smell of Gitanes hanging heavy in the air. Liz and Lils has a seductive quality to it, whispering ‘stay awhile and enjoy the break from reality.’
‘Thanks,’ I said, to no one, ‘but no thanks.’
The actor looking at me askance, said, ‘Who are you talking to?’
‘A good question, well asked,’ I said.
‘And?’
‘Well what could I say, in fact what could I do. Well let me tell you. I drank the coffee ate the cake kissed the actor and caught the next train back to Kings X.

By: Francis Charlton

Illustration by: Dominique Marchi