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Friday, March 9, 2012

"As Time Goes By" in Holland Park: Part 1

A pub where Lionel might pop out for a "quick half."

All stories need characters.  We view the world through their eyes, and as we follow their attempts to overcome their dilemmas, we invest our hopes in them: we yearn for them to succeed.  Those characters who demonstrate the ability to break free of their single-story existence, who somehow seem more vital after following a few episodes in their lives, we invest more of ourselves in: our emotions, our own struggles, and sometimes even our dreams.

After visiting Hercule Poirot’s house, and touring the Museum of London, we headed off to our next destination.  Holland Park is a residential district in London, as well as the name of a large park.  As we had poured over our maps the previous evening, we realized that while London boasted numerous parks of great beauty and historical importance, only two held personal significance for us.  While entry into the park opposite Poirot’s Whitehaven Mansions had been denied us, we hoped for better fortunes with our second choice.

The entry to an old, stone church.
Like Poirot’s house, Holland Park dwells not just in London, but also within our hearts.  Two decades ago, we fell in love with Jean and Lionel, two characters created by Bob Larbey for his British TV sitcom “As Time Goes By.”  Had the series merely lasted one or two seasons of six episodes each, this might not have proved the case.  But Jean and Lionel’s fictional lives, as well as their struggles to overcome the dilemmas they faced, proved compelling to viewers worldwide.  Each successive series offered a few more precious episodes, until finally in 2002, after nine seasons, the stars, Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer, decided it was time for them, as actors, to move on.  

Still, viewers refused to give them up, and thankfully, two reunion episodes were made in 2005.  Perhaps Dench and Palmer were right to end the series when they did.  By this time, Jean and Lionel had overcome the major obstacles that life and fate had thrown in their way.  Still, it’s always painful when an ongoing story, involving characters you love, comes to an end.  (I can only imagine how it affected Bob Larbey, who shared his consciousness with Jean and Lionel for so long, to realize that he would no longer get to write down more of their life journey and see Dench and Palmer bring them to life).  At least, with the DVDs, we could relive those portions of their lives that we had shared with them.  But today, on our final day in London, we had the opportunity (Who can say?  Perhaps our only one?) to visit the place where they first met: Holland Park.

Others eat their lunch in Holland Park
After leaving the Underground station, we walked along a busy street.  Then we decided: if we wished to see Holland Park, we might as well walk past some of the beautiful Victorian row houses depicted in the series.  We might not pass the one where Jean and Lionel supposedly lived*, but we could catch a glimpse of what life might be like for those who lived in this district.  Unlike the street our characters lived on, these houses were not all white, but painted a variety of colors.  We passed a pub that Lionel might pop out to for a “quick half.”  We passed an old, immaculately maintained, stone church.  Then the street ended, and we were forced to backtrack until we reached the busy street once more.  But that was okay, as we could imagine Jean’s secretarial agency, Type For You, might operate out of one of the small businesses, or she and Lionel might opt for a “cheap and cheerful” (inexpensive) dinner of fish-and-chips or Indian curry at one of the little restaurants we passed.  We picked up lunch in a local market, and journeyed onward.

Our journey will continue in “As Time Goes By” in Holland Park: Part 2.

Related Dragon Cache entries

For images of Jean & Lionel's house in "As Time Goes By," check out my January 30, 2014 entry
Jean & Lionel's House in "As Time Goes By" 

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