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The Seven Noses of Soho: The End of an Era

14-October-2011
14-October-2011 0:00
in Soho
by Peter Berthoud

I will always remember where I was when I heard that Rick Buckley had revealed the secrets of The Seven Noses of Soho.

I picked up a message on my phone. I had been eating burritos and cupcakes and missed a call.

A good friend, Jo of Westminster Walks, had called to break the news. In many ways an answer phone message was better than having a live conversation. I don't think I would have been up for that. Her voice, loaded with emotion, tried to soften the blow.

I had time to let the information begin to sink in and compose myself, before returning her call.

Seven Noses of Soho nose

Earlier in the day The Evening Standard had run this article. Using the headline "That's Blown It" the writer explained how "Rick Buckley, 45, fixed about 35 noses to landmarks that included the National Gallery, Tate Britain and South Bank Centre in 1997. Some were detected within hours or weeks. But at least 10 survive to this day."

But there was more. So many were never in Soho, they are Plaster of Paris and Polymer not resin, the legend of attaining infinite wealth upon spotting all of them isn't true.

I was obviously devastated. I called Jo back and tried incoherently to explain my sense of loss. It was if, in tender youth, someone had told me, all in one go, that the tooth fairy, Father Christmas and other mythic figures I once held so dear were all a lie. Now as an adult, I was being forced to reassess my entire world view, brutally and without warning.

You see I probably spent 8 months tracking "all" the noses down and blogged about them. Hoping to spread the love I even began running tours of them and whilst I hadn't actually started spending any of the promised infinite wealth I felt confident that any day I would check my bank account online and find a pleasant surprise.

Maybe I got too close to the noses. It all feels a bit odd now. Doing the tours had made me feel almost like the temporary custodian of these noses and now the rightful owner has returned to reclaim his property. I hope in a little way that I have done him proud, getting the profile of his noses raised. Just last week Time Out did a short feature that I helped with.

Of course I have emailed Rick Buckley and offered him a pint and a free tour. He may have made me rewrite a tour and one with current bookings too, but I can't begrudge him that! If he accepts my offer I will blog again on the noses. But for today I will ensconce myself in autumnal wistfulness and try to concentrate on all the good times.

As I count my blessings I realise that perhaps the infinite wealth has already arrived, and as a direct result of the noses. It just came in a different and non-financial form.

The last of the old Seven Noses tours has already taken place, the new era begins on Sunday!

You can book tickets for my next tour of The Seven Noses of Soho via Eventbrite.

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