My ‘culture’ gig for this week was an extremely unusual one, which was to see if I could locate, what have legendary become known as the “7 Noses of Soho”!!!!
In 1997 an artist by the name of ‘Rick Buckley’ so aggrieved at the continuous implementation of CCTV surveillance cameras on almost every street corner throughout London, and the fact that we were moving more and more towards an Orwellian type of ‘Big Brother Is Watching You’ culture – he felt that he just had to protest his displeasure and disapproval in some way.
Rather than taking a thuggish, destructive approach to protesting, Buckley decided to adopt a more pacifistic, humorous stance to air his grievances.
His plan was to place model casts of his ‘nose’ on numerous walls and buildings throughout London – right in the line of sight of various CCTV cameras, so as to ‘cock a snook’ at the authorities.
So – by conducting a number of under-cover covert operations, he secretly stuck over 30 ‘noses’ on numerous locations over London – to make his own personal protest.
The authorities soon got wind of this and quickly removed the majority of the noses – although, they had no idea who was responsible for this act.
In fact, it wasn’t until 2011 that Rick Buckley finally came clean and ‘fessed-up’ to his deed.
To this day, there are still apparently up to a dozen or so ‘noses’ in situ – and so hence my quest for the day was to discover the “7 Noses of Soho”.
It was ‘snot’ an easy task, but with the aid of guidance on Google, I felt able to pick up the ‘scent’, and was reasonably confident that I could ‘sniff’ out these elusive landmarks.
The challenge started off well, with the first ‘nose’ of the day being spotted very quickly, on an inner wall of Admiralty Arch (e.g. the famous nasal…oops sorry naval landmark), where legend has it that the ‘nose’ was deliberately positioned at just the right height so a horseman could rub it for good luck whilst riding through.
Next up it was off to Great Windmill Street, where a small (and very difficult to find) ‘nose’ is positioned on the side exterior wall of the old Trocadero building.
Felling confident that 2 out of the 7 ‘noses’ had been located fairly quickly – the next stop was to Meard Street deep in the heart of Soho, where again, it was easy to ‘sniff out’ the site of this ‘nose’ as it was a large clearly visible ‘hooter’ stuck on a brick wall near the junction of Dean Street.
With 3 ‘noses’ securely under the belt, the next stop was Bateman Street – and this is where confidence suddenly took a ‘nose-dive’ – because, having trawled up and down the street many times, intensely scrutinising all of its buildings (some of which were clearly used for life’s more ‘seedier’ activities) – my enthusiasm for this task was ‘snuffed-out’ as the nose just couldn’t be found – and so with a heavy heart, the decision was made to give finding this particular nose a miss, and reluctantly move-on to finding the ‘nose’ that was supposed to be in nearby Dean Street (the very next turning).
Worryingly, the same fate befell us Dean Street – until such time that is, when out of the blue, a complete stranger, who had obviously witnessed me staring gormlessly up and down at each building in the street – asked me if I happened to be looking for ‘noses’!!!
At this point my ‘saviour’ very helpfully pointed out that I was actually standing right next to “2” of the ‘noses’ – one of which was on the door of a ‘strip club’, and the other at first floor level of the building right next door to it!!!
So, now filled with a regenerated sense of enthusiasm, I headed off to my next port of call, via Bateman Street (e.g. the street where I couldn’t locate the previous ‘nose’), and would you Adam & Eve it, there it was, right in front of me, protruding out in all its glory !!!
With “6” noses under my belt, all that was left was to locate the seventh one – however, this is where there stands some contention, as there is another ‘nose’ in D’Arbly Street, where there has been some debate over the years as to whether it is actually one of Buckley’s noses – or – just a very old masonry nail, that has bent over throughout the years, and just so happens to look like a ‘nose’. So, having trotted off to D’Arbly Street to check it out, it really took no time at all in ‘sniffing’ this item of contention – and it has to be said, it does definitely look like a ‘nose’ to me.
That then just left the last official ‘nose’ of the ‘7 Noses of Soho’ to find to complete the day’s challenge – which was supposedly near Covent Garden….which isn’t technically Soho, but who cares!!
To ‘sniff’ this one out I had to head off to Endell Street in the Covent Garden area, and after wandering up and down the street a couple of times, I suddenly spotted a ‘hooter’ on the outer wall of one of the buildings – and, as a result, my quest to discover the “7 Noses of Soho” (8 if we include the contentious one in D’Arbly Street), was complete – with not too much pain endured or damage done!!!
With the day’s challenge completed – it was back to Soho to have a Tesco meal deal sarnie in Soho Square, accompanied by the pigeons – and to finish-off the gig, a ‘cheeky’ one in the delightful ‘Dog & Duck’ pub on Frith Street…….and this is where it gets ‘spooky’ – because, bearing in mind this whole ‘nose’ malarkey was done as a protest against the rise in the Orwell’ian ‘Big Brother is Watching You’ culture – it turns out that the ‘Dog & Duck’ pub was the favoured drinking hole of one George Orwell (he of ‘1984’ and ‘Animal Farm’ fame).
I guess that some things are just meant to be………and remember – always keep your nose clean.