Places Where I’ve Been – 23 Heddon Street

As someone generally not a fan of crowds, walking through Central London on the eve of a highly-anticipated football match was quite the experience – it’s perhaps the closest I’ll ever get to experiencing a flashmob in the flesh!

Still, I wasn’t in the Capital to see a show or any of the eye-wateringly expensive trademarks, sorry I mean landmarks!

No, I was on my way to 23 Heddon Street, just off Regent Street, to pay homage to one the 20th century’s greatest artists, David Bowie.

It was here in a doorway that Bowie, as alter-ego Ziggy Stardust, posed for the album cover photograph for The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders of Mars – arguably one of the defining records of the 70s.

For me, this was David Bowie at his absolute best: glam, sexy, flamboyant, cool, fake and otherwordly.

As a truly evocative piece of art, the album cover always makes me think of a London that was exciting, raw and dangerous – long before the gentrification and hipster-dom we see today.

I loved the bohemian idea of London in the late 60’s and early 70’s, where struggling artists could rent a victorian terrace for a pittance, writing verse on the peeling wallpaper and composing protest songs in the bath.

However, today Heddon Steet is unrecognisable from that iconic photograph; gone is that sense of urban decay and grime that must have made London such a dangerous and seductive place to be in the 70s. In it’s place is a row of identical-looking restaurants, who judging by the prices on their menus, cater exclusively to wealthy foreign tourists and businessmen with unrestricted access to the company credit card.

Give me that fantasy of Old London any day…

Still, just to be able to stand on the same spot as one of your heroes is a sensation that I never get tired of, no matter how remote.

One can only hope that that a Ziggy Burger isn’t on the menu!

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