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gertrude

October 2017

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tulip

Gerald Durrell and me: a tenuous link

I’ve just read a review of a new book, The Durrells of Corfu by Michael Haag. The reviewer (Lewis Jones) writes about the various places the Durrell family lived before moving to Corfu and hit me with this:
in 1930 … the family moved to a basement flat in the Queen’s Hotel, Upper Norwood…In Larry’s novel The Black Book … the Queen’s Hotel is cunningly disguised as the Regina Hotel, a ‘tomb of masonry’, ‘crowded with ghosts’, and inhabited by prostitutes, perverts and degenerates.

Well! For a brief time in my teens, The Queen’s was my local. It was conveniently situated on the way home from church or youth club (not as proper as it sounds, heh) and was a regular hangout for a gang of us. It was built in 1854 for tourists wanting to visit the relocated Crystal Palace on Sydenham Hill. A few years ago, I found that it had become a hostel for asylum seekers, criticized for overcrowding and general poor conditions. Full circle? It was perfectly respectable when we went there, with never a hint of ghosts or degeneracy. A Google search suggests that it’s now gone up in the world and lost its apostrophe.



The book sounds fascinating, so much so that I’ve pre-ordered it.

Comments

(Anonymous)

gone up in the world

Goodness me, it certainly has improved since the last time I saw it and is probably smarter even than when we would frequent it. I had no idea of the link to the Durrells. Shame about the apostrophe :(
wee sister

Re: gone up in the world

I was amazed!

There's a lot more interesting information available from The Norwood Society.
I will pre-order it too. I remember Sydenham Hill well from my childhood; my grandparents were in Dulwich and we spent weekends and holidays with them. I thought that my grandmother taught at a school in Norwood, but now I look on a map I see it was nowhere near!
Gosh, another tenuous link! I've always loved Dulwich.

The book apparently reveals much that Gerald Durrell ignored in his lovely book. You have been warned.
Having read some of Lawrence's books too, I can only imagine!!

I still miss Dulwich. My brother and I went back to see the house a few years ago. So many happy times there!

(Anonymous)

Nice coincidence :) It does look a lovely Victorian building and has reasonable prices for a hotel near the tube.

Do you watch the television series?

gwendraith x
A real surprise to me. At the time I never thought of the place as a special building, because it's a Victorian suburb and there were plenty of large houses in similar style, many since pulled down.
There's no tube at Crystal Palace, BTW. You have to take the train or a bus.

The series The Durrells do you mean? Grrr. I watched the first series and I expect I'll watch the next but I didn't enjoy the first one much because it's nothing like the book. I much prefer the 1987 series, My Family and other Animals, with Brian Blessed as Spiro.

(Anonymous)

Ah, it's a regular station at Crystal Palace, bit of a trek to central London then.

I remember the 1987 series now that you mention it. I do enjoy the new series, I don't mind that it differs to the book, I find it entertaining anyway.
I see that next Sunday they are putting on The Durrells followed by Grantchester.
Why can't they spread these things out?
It's The Overground, thank you! (Or The East London Line or the Orange Line as most of us still insist on calling it.)