Natalie Portman’s character took her pseudonym, Alice Ayers, from a plaque in Postman’s Park in the 2004 movie Closer – before she turned into a baby-faced leg spreading, wig wearing, pole dancer with a love for older men with commitment issues. Nevertheless, despite the international publicity generated by the film, Postman’s Park remains one of the best kept secrets in London.
Postman’s Park is a beautiful little manicured park, nestled in between lush old London buildings only metres from the London Museum. (Bordered by Little Britain, near the London Museum) It’s a memorial to people of heroic self-sacrifice – those who have died saving the life of another. As I stood admiring the plaques and lives they represented, imagining the courage it takes to save another’s life, I was moved by the goodness still left in humanity – until I turned around and saw some geezer posing near the fountain feature with a photographer and his assistant. Slightly disrespectful – until he pulls out a medium-sized suitcase of business jackets for a costume change. Here I am, trying to have a moment of reflection, and this git is getting his mug shot taken.
Postman’s Park apparently gotten its name from its popularity with local postal workers in their lunch break but originally in 1900, the park used by George Frederic Watt as a Memorial to Heroic Self Service in 1900. There are two particularly haunting dedications on the wall. Henry James Bristow was aged eight (1890) when he saved his little sister’s life by tearing off her flaming clothes but caught fire himself and died of burns and shock. And John Clinton was aged 10 when he drowned near London Bridge in trying to save a companion younger than himself in 1894. All the plaques are dedications to humanity in its most vulnerable state.
In June 2009, the first new plaque in over 70 years was unveiled in memorial of Leigh Pitt. I sat and peacefully reflected in the cool shade on a bench dedicated to a man who ‘loved London.” Have you been to Postman’s Park?