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A Whimsey Night In London
Grim Natwick

Certain London nights are best described as drizzlers- something more than fog and less than rain. It was one of those nights.

John Culhane, animation historian, and I had just come out of the Richard Williams Animation studio at number 13 Soho Square. Soho, fairly in the middle of London, is historically oblique. It has a raffish reputation. It is devoted to the pleasures of eating, drinking, entertainment, street gambling, book shops and alluring blonds. Traditionally, Soho is bounded by Oxford Street in the north, Coventry Street in the south, Regent street to the west, and Charing Cross Road to the east. A hundred different races live and work there. Dozens of restaurants hug the center block known as Soho Square. One of these is run by the three Cassolotti sisters. On this night, John and went there for dinner. The sisters kept a friendly little place only a short walk from the studio.

This was early in January of 1974. In a week, John would return to America. We found a quiet corner table and ordered our first carafe of red wine. While we waited for appetizers, our conversation hobbled from the London studios to the question of where animation would here. "go from The Walt Disney 'Robinhood' epic had been showing in London and had been sparingly reviewed in London papers. A plate of peppery antipastos was placed on our table. We ordered a second carafe of wine. Then suddenly John propounded a verbal commentary that he swore was absolutely true.

From private sources he said he had learned that the genius Leonardo DaVinci, growing a little jaded with harp music, went one day to St. Peter and asked for a year's respite from the perfumed elegance of his celestial abode.

"I have observed," he said, "a new and fascinating art called animation that is being practiced in the slums down on Earth. My inventive ingenuity tempts me to resume for a twelve- month period my former likeness so that I might infiltrate myself into one of these fascinating studios." St. Peter willingly granted his wish.

And so it happened that one morning this noble individual entered the Richard Williams Studio at 13 Soho Square in the city of London. Williams received a phone call from his secretary. She said, "Mr. Williams, do you hire artists with long hair and whiskers?"

Williams said, "Of course we do. What's on your mind?"

"There's an artist here with a portfolio of drawings he would like to show you.



Source type Magazine
Volume 1.34
Language en
Document type Feature
Media type text
Page count 4
Pages pp. 24-27


Id 5816
Availability Lendable
Inserted 2021-02-03