Stairway to heaven loses out to swimming pool in a basement

Greek history tells us that when the Gods are forced into close contact, the heavens rain blood and the earth shakes.

Fast-forward to London today where two deities, Jimmy Page, rock guitarist and founder of Led Zeppelin, and pop megastar Robbie Williams are hurtling lightning bolts at each other over their garden fence.

The bone of contention is not a stairway to heaven, but a swimming pool and fitness centre in a basement.

They are neighbours in Holland Park, one of London’s most stately and salubrious quarters. It’s très swish and très sploofy. The mansions are large and the fences are high. But clearly, it’s a little cramped for two titans.

Williams won a five-year battle with his neighbour when he was granted conditional approval to build his basement swimming pool in his London home.

Page lives next-door in a magnificently restored modern castle which could be described as one of the Houses of the Holy. It was designed by the self-styled “art architect” William Burges between 1875 and 1881, in 13th-century French Gothic style. You can read more here. Page fears excavation work will damage his  Grade-1 listed chateau.

It’s clear they don’t share a Whole Lotta Love. Each wishes the other were banished to the Dark Side of the Moon or at least as far away as Kashmir.

Here’s where it all gets a bit distorted. A letter to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, (the local council), claims that Robbie Williams is tormenting his neighbour by “blasting Black Sabbath music” every time he sees Page in his garden. At this stage, (small pun intended), we do not know if he’s channelling songs from the 1970 album Paranoid, the Sabotage album (1975) or Dehumanizer, recorded in 1992.

And not just Black Sabbath. The letter claims Mr William’s mind games also involve blasting Pink Floyd and Deep Purple songs at high volume, when he sees Mr Page in the garden, because “he knows this upsets” the 75-year-old guitarist.

This odd letter, tabled by the local council, is signed by “Johnny”, a friend or neighbour of Mr Page.

It’s clear they don’t share a Whole Lotta Love. Each wishes the other were banished to the Dark Side of the Moon or at least as far away as Kashmir. Holy Smoke (on the water)! You might say. But, it even gets weirder.

The correspondent adds that Williams has also dressed up to imitate Robert Plant, the Led Zeppelin singer by “wearing a long hair wig and stuffing a pillow under his shirt in an attempt to mock or imitate Mr Robert Plant’s beer belly that he has acquired in his older age”.

Their musical realms, unlike their homes, are separated by much than another brick in wall. Page is the Gandalf of the guitar rock, only a place, or two or three, below that of Zeus himself, Jimi Hendrix. Led Zeppelin floated atop Mt Olympus during the late sixties and seventies dwarfing other demi-gods such as Jagger and co.

Robbie Williams ruled the nineties in the UK, first in the boy-band Take That, and then as a solo artist. But he’s just an upstart, with album sales of only 75 million compared to Led Zeppelin’s sales of around 250 million. He did sing at the opening of the Football World Cup in Russia. Sadly, he didn’t sing Party like a Russian. He should have.

Turn it up loud. Torment your neighbours.



Garry Littman

Garry Littman

Garry Littman est le fondateur de The Language House à Genève. The Language House propose des coachings d'anglais à Genève pour les particuliers et les entreprises, ainsi que des cours intensifs d'anglais dans les pays anglophones. Garry a été journaliste en Australie et en Asie, il a travaillé pour World Radio Switzerland.

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