Friday, 18 November 2011

Mighbrow: Cardinal Cap Alley

Here are three photos of that original Miracle Mile line up.
The top shot (featuring drummer Phil Sand's nostrils) was taken in Cardinal Cap Alley, one of the oldest remaining lanes in London, venue of a famous, long gone brothel. It's on the south bank, not far from Clink Street where the old prison gave it's name to 'clink'. We had no concerns back then; happy, unfettered days; we were going to own the world. After rehearsals we'd invariably end up at The Anchor pub on the edge of the Thames and look out across the water towards St Pauls, taking in the majesty of The City, awe inspiring even then to the upstart philistines that I'm sure we were...
The history of the area is amazing; the old bear pits are nearby as is the Globe theatre and Southwark Cathedral. There's a great food market (Borough Market) that draws me back there often, and that's where the second photo was taken. Everything I'm wearing was borrowed; I had no style to call my own, and they were hard times. And in those times (late 80s) we used 'Prime Time' rehearsal studios on Clink Street; the 3rd shot is taken by the steps of that studio. 

I remember both Steve and I being taken with the name 'Cardinal Cap Alley'; we were both always on the lookout for a good song title. 
Steve recently sent me these shots with the suggestion that we finally write that song. 
I hope that we do, but I have to admit that I'd already done it; it remains unreleased but it sits under dust somewhere within Marcus's mixing desk. Here are the lyrics (no poem then). You can probably tell from the mitre that it came out as a bit of a sea shanty/drinking song. I'll hold it back for when I do that national tour of dodgy coastal pubs...
This isn't, by the way, a declaration to Steve that I got there first; more a declaration of love for old times and old mates. 
Time does wear things smooth but some edges (thankfully) remain; we are never truly released from the past...

Cardinal Cap Alley 

I took me down to the river
I took me away from the games
On the southbank I headed eastward
And tried to remember some names
From Westminster down past the eye boys
Towards Borough market I made
Some things you cannot deny boys
Memories that can never fade, oh
Memories that can never fade

Bear Pits and Bull Rings
Bankside to Clink
We’ll meet at the Anchor for the finishing drink
Raise to the boatmen and the Winchester Geese
And a past that would never release them
A past that would never release

Here’s where they took the picture
That’s already starting to fade
Here with our backs to the wall boys
Here where our names would be made
Here where the ghosts light the fires
Up by the Cardinal’s Hat
History’s rewritten by liars
What could be fairer than that boys?
What could be fairer than that?

Bear Pits and Bull Rings
From Bankside to Clink
Meet at the Anchor for the finishing drink
Raise to the boatmen and the Winchester Geese
And a past that will never release us
A past that will never release

Last night I dreamt of my father
Last night I dreamt of the sea
Last night I dreamt of an island
With nobody on it but me

So I took me down to the river
Then I took me down to the sea
The past is an indian giver
No-one knows better than me boys
No-one knows better than me


  1. I used to work near there in Tooley Street and often wandered the interesting lanes of Southwark and Bermondsey. Some very famous films shot around Borough Market and the Clink.
    I have now moved over to offices opposite St Paul's and there are some equally amazing alleys around there. Found this one called Knightrider Street yesterday, called such as the Knights used to ride down it on the way from Temple to the tournaments at Smithfield. I do love London and her history.

  2. I've got a great bathroom book, Peter Ackroyd's 'London' that tells the stories behind the oldest parts of town. It makes you want to invest in an Oyster card. His main advice for appreciating the city: "always look up..."