21 September 2008

News from the Mews

Technically, of course, my new street is a Row not a Mews, in name, at least. I'm not convinced there were ever any stables along this little passage (though in this part of London, it's always a possibility)--there certainly aren't any horses here now, other than the odd pone-y (appropriate, given that the office next door is owned by a certain JMS Group...). There is a motorbike park outside, though, and while bikes might not be as smelly as horses, they sure are noisy, especially late at night.

It's unsurprising that among the vast combined library of London books amassed by Papa and I over the years, there is a copy of The London Compendium, "a street-by-street exploration of the hidden metropolis." I was hoping to find that the Pseudomews in which I reside had some good history or hot former residents. Sadly, the street is too small to get a mention, although I did discover that the Big Street address for the other side of my building used to be a WWII homing station for pigeons as part of the Special Ops Executive. Given that I loathe pigeons even more than geese, this is quite ironic. Just over the road, meanwhile, was the building where the SOE invited in the finalists for the "hey, if you're good at the Telegraph crossword, you're probably awesome at cracking codes" competition, as well as the Apple boutique (not to be confused with the Apple Store), opened by the Beatles in 1967 and closed the following year when the "western communism" principles they used to run the place didn't exactly mean big £££.

As for the etymology of mews, which is a strangely satisfying word to pronounce, even if I usually do so in the high-pitched squeak my skittish cat usually makes, the word comes from the Old French mue "a cage for hawks, especially when molting," from muer "to molt," which comes from the Vulgar Latin mutare "to change." The first English Mewes was a stable near Charing Cross built on the site of a former royal mews where the king's hawks were kept. A cat's mews have a completely different origin, as of course does the homophonous muse. Boo, I miss having access to the OED online and being forced to use online etymology sites instead that don't use IPA!

Naturally, just days after I move in, a new, Guy Ritchie take on a Sherlock Holmes film is announced, with Jude Law, of all people, playing Watson. Quelle coincidence. I can't imagine they'll be doing any filming in this neck of the woods, although, of course, I'd be happy to be an extra if they were in the market for any!

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