From a 1903 letter to Franz Xaver Kappus from Rainer Maria Rilke

I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.


“Live the questions now.” Rainer Maria Rilke

Thank you for visiting this page. I’m Julia, and I work as a psychodynamic psychotherapist, relationship counsellor, and clinical supervisor. I’ve been in private practice in the City of London and in south-west London for the past three years; for the decade before that, I worked as a specialist psychotherapist for working age adults in the NHS (where I’ve also run staff groups).

This is where you will find the posts on my London-based blog, which I update constantly through the week, almost as a stream of consciousness. It reflects my interests, including psychotherapy, and my weekly experience outside – though not divorced from – my work. It’s a contemporary version of the commonplace book – one where the thoughts, responses, and comments of others are welcome.

The United Kingdom Temperance and General Provident Institution Drinking Fountain

Cock Pond, Clapham Common, Lambeth


From FriendsLife:

“The UK Total Abstinence Life was formed in London in 1840 and, as the name suggests, its products were aimed initially at teetotallers. The group grew and expanded gradually, changing its name to the United Kingdom Temperance & General Provident Institution in 1849. Later this was shortened to the United Kingdom Provident Institution, with the head office moving out of London to Salisbury in 1975. The operational merger with Friends’ Provident Life Office came in 1986, with the funds of the two organisations formally merged in 1993.”

From: Artuk.org:

“Ferdinand von Miller (1813–1887) and Charles Barry Junior (1823–1900) and August von Kreling (1819–1876)

The fountain is mounted on an architectural pedestal surmounted by two figures in bronze. Both are heavily draped, with a young woman standing over an elderly man. The woman holds out a pitcher in her left hand, and the old man holds a drinking bowl to his mouth with his right hand and a crutch in his left. This is a representation of ‘Thirst’. The pedestal which the fountain is on has a tapering cylindrical shaft with moulding that sweeps out beneath the drinking bowls. Each side of the plinth is equipped with a lion-head spout that became purely decorative in 1935 after jets were installed. The fountain is currently not working, and the bowls have been covered up. The fountain was originally installed at Adelaide Place in 1884, however, it was re-erected in its current location in 1895 as a replacement for an earlier fountain on the site.”

From the website of the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain & Cattle Trough Association:

“The United Kingdom Temperance & General Provident Institution Drinking Fountain was originally unveiled at Adelaide Place, City of London by the northern approach to London Bridge. The sculptor was August von Kreling. The architect was Charles Barry (junior). Within a few years, the great weight of this fountain caused structural problems in the vaulting of the warehouses beneath the road and the United Kingdom Temperance & General Provident Institution had no alternative but to have the fountain removed. They presented it to the LCC, who re-erected it on its present site at Clapham Common in August 1895.”

“But the time had gone flying by, and the afternoon was now over…*

*From: Alias Grace (1996), by Margaret Atwood:

…As I came back up the drive I saw Mr. Kinnear standing on the verandah, and looking at me with his telescope; and as I approached the back door, he walked around the side of the house, and said, Good afternoon, Grace.

I returned it, and he said, Who was that man with you in the orchard? And what were you doing with him?

I could hear in his voice what sort of suspicions he was entertaining; and I said it was only young Jamie Walsh, and we were making daisy chains because it was my birthday. And he accepted that, but was none too pleased all the same. And when I went into the kitchen to begin the preparations for supper, Nancy said, What is that wilted flower doing in your hair? It looks very silly.

There was one, which had got caught when I was taking off the daisy necklace.

But these two things together took some of the innocence out of the day.

So I set about cooking the supper; and when McDermott came in later with an armful of wood for the stove, he said in a sneering manner, So, you were rolling about in the grass, and kissing the errand boy, he should have his brains knocked out for that, and I’d do it for him myself if he wasn’t such a baby. It’s clear you prefer the boys to the men, such a fine cradle-robber you are. And I said, I was doing no such thing. But he did not believe me.

I felt as though my afternoon had not been mine at all, and not a kind and private thing, but had been spied upon by every one of them – with Mr. Kinnear included, which I did not think he would have stooped so low – exactly as if they’d all been lined up in a row at the door of my chamber, and taking turns at looking through the keyhole; which made me very sad, and also angry.”

Peckham Angels


SALLYB2 posted at Londonist.com on 18 September 2011:

“Well this is fun. With the backing of the Blake Society, Peckham artist John Hartley has taken installation art to a new level by replanting William Blake’s Angel Oak on Rye Common this afternoon.

The sapling was sourced from an eroding part of the coast, symbolising the changing margins of society. The occasion was marked with ceremony and accompanied by appropriate Blakely verses. It was witnessed by around sixty onlookers, who were encouraged to help fill the hole by each spreading a handful of dirt.

In 1765 at the age of 8, William Blake saw his first vision while walking on Peckham Rye. ‘A tree filled with angels, bright angelic wings bespangling every bough like stars.’

In collaboration with the Blake Society and the Forestry Commission, an oak sapling was saved from the eroding margins of England and transplanted to Peckham Rye as an invitation to future generations of Peckham Angels.

“Out, damned spot! out, I say!”*

*Lady Macbeth, in “The Tragedy of Macbeth” Act 5, Scene 1.

From: Alias Grace (1996), by Margaret Atwood:

“I proceeded to dress as usual, vowing to keep my dream to myself, because who was there I could trust with it, in that house? If I told it as a warning, I would only be laughed at. But when I went outside to pump the first pail of water, there was all the laundry I had done the day before, blown into the trees by the tempest during the night. I’d forgotten to bring it in; it was very unlike me to forget a thing like that, especially a white laundry, which I’d worked so hard at, getting out the spots; and this was another cause of foreboding to me. And the nightdresses and shirts which were stuck in the trees did indeed look like angels without heads; and it was as if our own clothing was sitting in judgment upon us.”

“Under her stage name of Cremorna Garden, she went from one disreputable triumph to another.”*

*from “Strong Poison” (1930), by Dorothy L. Sayers.

Image: Battersea Railway Bridge, viewed from Vicarage Crescent.

From Wikipedia:

“The Battersea Railway Bridge (originally called the Cremorne Bridge, after the riverside public Cremorne Gardens in Chelsea, and formerly commonly referred to as the Battersea New Bridge) is a bridge across the River Thames in London, between Battersea and Fulham. Owned by Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd (who use Chelsea River Bridge as its official name), it links Battersea to the extreme north-east part of Fulham, known as Chelsea Harbour or Imperial Wharf, a 21st-century-rebuilt area on the south side of Chelsea Creek. The bridge is used by the West London Line of the London Overground from Clapham Junction to Willesden Junction.

The bridge was designed by William Baker, chief engineer of the London and North Western Railway, and was opened on 2 March 1863 at a cost of £87,000 (equivalent to £8,400,000 in 2019). It carries two tracks and consists of five 120-foot (37 m) lattice girder arches set on stone piers.

A three-arch brick viaduct carries the line on the north side of the bridge, with one arch having been opened to provide a pedestrian route under the railway, as part of the Thames Path. On the south side are four arches, two of which are used as storage for the residents of a houseboat community moored immediately downstream, and another one of which was opened to Thames Path pedestrian traffic as part of the Lombard Wharf development.

The bridge was strengthened and refurbished in 1969, and again in 1992. During a high tide in late 2003, the structure was struck by a refuse-barge damaging some lower structural elements significantly: repairs were completed in early 2004.

In November 2013, planning permission was granted for the Diamond Jubilee Footbridge, extending the two central piers of the bridge upstream.

Trains crossing are subject to a 20/30 mph speed limit (locomotive-hauled traffic is restricted to 20 mph, all other traffic is limited to 30 mph).

The bridge was declared a Grade II* listed structure in 2008, providing protection to preserve its special character from unsympathetic development.”


“How wild it was, to let it be.”

Dr Thomas Brown (1778-1820) Posted on April 2, 2020 by Thomas Dixon:

“In this post for the History of Emotions Blog, Professor Thomas Dixon looks back at the life and influence of the man he has suggested was the ‘inventor of the emotions’.”

From the psychologist of June 2009:

“The metaphysical mechanics of the mind Gustav Jahoda on the German philosopher and psychologist Johann Friedrich Herbart, and his view of the mind as a starry sky of Newtonian forces.”


From the Philosophy Now app:

“Brief Lives Maine de Biran (1766-1824) Benjamin Bâcle finds Maine de Biran’s idea of the self-willing self to be underrated.”

From: Alias Grace (1996), by Margaret Atwood:

“He must reread Thomas Brown’s work on association and suggestion, and Herbart’s theory of the threshold of consciousness – the line that divides those ideas that are apprehended in full daylight from those others that lurk forgotten in the shadows below. Moreau de Tours considers the dream to be the key to the knowledge of mental illness, and Maine de Biran held that conscious life was only a sort of island, floating upon a much vaster subconscious, and drawing thoughts up from it like fish. What is perceived as being known is only a small part of what may be stored in this dark repository. Lost memories lie down there like sunken treasure, to be retrieved piecemeal, if at all; and amnesia itself may be in effect a sort of dreaming in reverse; a drowning of recollection, a plunging under….”

Cheryl Strayed, in Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (2012):

“It was all unknown to me then, as I sat on that white bench on the day I finished my hike. Everything except the fact that I didn’t have to know. That it was enough to trust that what I’d done was true. To understand its meaning without yet being able to say precisely what it was, like all those lines from The Dream of a Common Language that had run through my nights and days. To believe that I didn’t need to reach with my bare hands anymore. To know that seeing the fish beneath the surface of the water was enough. That it was everything. It was my life – like all lives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. So very close, so very present, so very belonging to me.
How wild it was, to let it be.”

Stephen Joshua Sondheim (March 22, 1930 – November 26, 2021)

From bbc.co.uk:

“Legendary US composer and songwriter Stephen Sondheim has died aged 91.

His lawyer told the New York Times that Sondheim passed away on Friday at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut.

He was a titan of musical theatre who turned the unlikeliest of subjects into entertainment landmarks.

During his illustrious career, he wrote the scores of some of Broadway’s best known shows including Company, Follies and A Little Night Music. Sondheim also wrote the lyrics for West Side Story.

The New-York born composer won eight Grammy awards, nine Tony awards – including the special Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre – and one Academy Award. He also received a Pulitzer Prize. 

His ballad Send in the Clowns – from the 1973 musical A Little Night Music – has been recorded hundreds of times, including by Frank Sinatra and Judy Collins.

In 2015, US President Barack Obama bestowed Sondheim the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the highest civilian award – for his work.

Sondheim’s lawyer said the composer had celebrated Thanksgiving with friends a day before his death.

Tributes have started pouring to one of musical theatre’s most revered composers.”

Julian Ovenden

Esmond Road, London W4

Image: (Historic England) From 1857 wall box-type post boxes came into use for fixing into existing walls. In 1859 an improved cylindrical design of pillar box was created for standard use nationwide.”

From: A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 7, Acton, Chiswick, Ealing and Brentford, West Twyford, Willesden. Originally published by Victoria County History (1982):

“The creator of Bedford Park was Jonathan Thomas Carr (1845-1915), a cloth merchant whose father-in-law, Hamilton Fulton, lived at Bedford House. The estate’s three chief roads were the Avenue, Woodstock Road, and Bath Road, all radiating from the east end of Acton green. Initially Carr acquired 24 a. in 1875 but adjoining sites were rapidly added, including part of Ealing detached on a 99-year building lease from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1877. Its first houses, in the Avenue, were occupied in 1876 and many in Woodstock Road were ready by 1878. The Bedford Park Co. was formed in 1881, with Carr as chairman, and by 1883 there were 490 houses on 113 a. On Carr’s collapse in 1886, with half of the land built up, the company’s assets were largely bought by Bedford Park Estate Ltd., which finished the roads and continued to manage some property until the 1950s. Ultimately the estate came to be bounded by Gainsborough and Abinger roads to the east, Blenheim Road and Marlborough Crescent to the north, Esmond Road to the west, and South Parade and Flanders Road to the south.”

Christmas Market till 5pm today at the Old Pack Horse, W4

From pubheritage.camra.org.uk:

“An exuberant architectural extravaganza of 1910 to designs by the prolific T H Nowell Parr for Fuller, Smith & Turner who still own it (it also doubles as a Thai restaurant). The Edwardian free-style exterior is enriched with lots of brown faïence on the ground floor and more interesting detail in the floors above. Three original rooms are still clearly discernible and retain their names in the etched window glass (some of it gently curved). Easily the best space is the saloon bar (on Acton Lane) see image with its panelling and delightful alcove and original fireplace, which sits behind a Tudor arch. Such arches are a Parr favourite (as elsewhere in this pub). The counter in the saloon is original too and has highly unusual detailing, while the surround of the bar-back is also of 1910 although the centre part is, unfortunately, modern work. There are traces of doors in the counter that enabled the servicing of handpumps in days gone by.

Round the corner the main bar-back, facing Chiswick High Road, is original as is the main run of the counter. The counter in the area on the corner of the pub is a crude cobbling together of old and new elements. On this side of the pub there is a division separating it into two but this was adapted at a refurbishment in 2017 which modified the opening between them with an utterly crass, industrial-feel treatment with deliberately visible steel joists. A visual disgrace. All the rooms in the pub have another Parr characteristic – exposed wooden studding and beams. Don’t miss the stained glass pack horses in the public and saloon bar upper windows and Fuller’s symbol, the griffin in stone relief above the corner door on two sides. One of the redundant doorways in the pub must have served as an off-sales.

On the right through a wide opening in a part glazed screen there is a snug area with a Victorian-style fireplace and good short partitions (modern?). Beyond a folding screen is a restaurant area added in a flat-roofed extension built in the early 2000s.”

“Caius is pronounced ‘keys’”

From: Historic England entry:


St Mary’s Vicarage (Including Railings And Gates)

l8th Century late, altered. Three-storey and dormers. Four windows. Brown or yellow brick. Band at second floor sills. Recessed windows with glazing bars.

Wrought iron gate with simple overthrow lamp-holder and railings on low forecourt wall. LCC plaque erected in 1935 commemorates residence here of Dr Edward Adrian Wilson (1872-1912), Antarctic explorer and naturalist who died with Scott.”

From: Squires in the Slums: Settlements and Missions in Late Victorian Britain (2007), by Nigel Scotland:

“The Gonville and Caius Mission commenced in the Yelverton (Road) district of St Mary’s Battersea in 1892. The seeds of the idea were first sown by Canon Clarke, Vicar of Battersea, who invited the college to come and work in his huge parish. One of his staff at Battersea, the Revd. Francis W Pawson (d.1921), was a former soccer blue and member of Gonville and Caius and so provided the link between the college and the parish. Canon Clarke generously placed at the college’s disposal the old Battersea Vicarage, a substantial building close to the Thames and known as the Vicarage House. It stood in large gardens and had a mission-room attached. The house, which was formally renamed ‘Caius House’, was able to accommodate between six and eight residents or ‘settlers’. It was used by Caius men from December 1887. A printed circular letter dated August 1888 stated that ‘every settler will interest himself in some aspect of the work as is the case of ‘institutions such as Toynbee Hall’.”

From Wikipedia:

“Born in Cheltenham on 23 July 1872, Wilson was the second son and fifth child of physician Edward Thomas Wilson and his wife, Mary Agnes, née Whishaw. A clever, sensitive, but boisterous boy, he developed a love of the countryside, natural history and drawing from an early age. He was sent as a boarder to a preparatory school in Clifton, Bristol, but after failing to gain a scholarship to public school, he attended Cheltenham College for boys as a day pupil.

His mother was a poultry breeder and he spent much of his youth at The Crippetts farm, Leckhampton near Cheltenham. By the age of nine, he had announced to his parents that he was going to become a naturalist. With encouragement and tuition from his father, he started to draw pictures of the wildlife and fauna in the fields around the farm. After passing his exams with honours in science in 1891, he went to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he read Natural Sciences, obtaining a first-class degree in 1894.

It was during his time there that he developed the deep Christian faith and asceticism by which he lived his life. He studied for his Bachelor of Medicine degree at St George’s Hospital Medical School, London and undertook mission work in the slums of Battersea in his spare time. In February 1898, shortly before qualifying as a doctor, Wilson became seriously ill and was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis, contracted during his mission work.

During a long convalescence from this illness he spent months in Norway and Switzerland, time he used to practise and develop his skills as an artist. He qualified in medicine in 1900, and the next year was appointed junior house surgeon at Cheltenham General Hospital.

In 1897, he met Oriana Fanny Souper at Caius House, Battersea, while he was conducting mission work. They married on 16 July 1901, three weeks before he set off for the Antarctic as a member of Robert Falcon Scott‘s expedition. The wedding was in Hilton, Huntingdonshire, where her father was vicar…”

From the website of the National Portrait Gallery:

“Returned to the Antarctic on Scott’s 1910 expedition on the Terra Nova as head of the scientific staff. Wilson with Oates, Bowers, Evans and Scott, reached the South Pole on 18 January 1912 just after Norwegian Roald Amundsen but all the party died on the return journey.”