44. Man In Moon Passage
Where? Diddy dogleg allowing congress between Regent Street and Piccadilly via Vine and Swallow Streets.
What? Man In Moon Passage is surely one of the more whimsical names we've encountered. What is a Moon Passage, and why is there a man in it? Probably best not to ask.
The short, boomerang-shaped cutting offers two contrasting egressions. The northern end debouches onto busy Regent Street, beside the delightful Caffé Concerto, whose attractive counter offers homemade 'Gelato Italiano' in a range of delicious flavours. An otherwise sophisticated continental air is despoiled somewhat by a giant fibreglass cone sporting scoops of vanilla, blackcurrant and gangrenous testicle.
Pleasant dairy smells gradate into more curdled aromas as we pass to the other end. This is Vine Street, a stinky access road for Le Meridien Hotel on Piccadilly. This stumpy hang-out of smoking kitchen hands has achieved world fame by somehow being selected as one of the orange Monopoly properties. Tim Moore describes the scene best in his book 'Do Not Pass Go': "Not so much a runt as a rectum, a back passage, a workman's crack poking out round the back of Piccadilly's fancy facades." It is all these things and less.
But one event of note did occur here. In 1791, famed double bass player Frantisek Kotzwara visited a prostitute in Vine Street with an unusual request: castration. She refused; somewhat unfortunately for our purposes, as a ball lopping would have given a nice symmetry to our earlier comments about gangrenous testicles. The persistent Kotzwara still enjoyed an evening of sexual adventure, culminating in death by auto-erotic asphyxiation, the first on record.
Why Use? The alt.whores have gone, and the Man in Moon pub cratered long ago (to the dismay of Monopoly pub crawlers). The only reason to come down here is for the ices on Regent Street. But wander round to Swallow Street for a fine view of Wren's St James church.