London

Well I started the day in Shropshire – Blandings Castle to be exact – by the bathroom, watching Lord Emsworth’s pig emerge, foaming at the mouth and with a beatific smile, having eaten the only edible thing in there – a cake of soap.  It was laugh out loud stuff.

The Drones club, and the London of PG Wodehouse is a magical place.  It’s always summer, always the 1920s: the girls are young and beautiful, the men universally silly.  Uncle Fred in the Springtime was published in 1939, with the shadow of war over Europe, but it’s a world of Charleston and the flappers, of glamour and wealth.  It’s very seductive, totally crazy and great fun.

This is a very different London to the one described in Peter Ackroyd’s London.  I’ve been reading this in short sections, as it’s quite dense, very factual and immensely detailed.  Today’s chapter was about the London poor – “They are always with us,” is the chapter heading.  Charles Booth’s Life and Labour of the People in London gets a few mentions – and we are taken to Pimlico and Southwark, and on to Borough – these last are places I know well – having spent several short breaks exploring Borough Market – fantastic for foodies.  Nearby are the streets that contained Dickens’ Marshalsea prison – as mentioned in Little Dorrit; there is also The Royal Oak on Tabard Street – the street where Chaucer’s pilgrims met.  You can also wander past the modern day reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe.

Ackroyd calls London the archetype of all modern cities – I’ve not read the whole book yet, but I think he is missing a chapter on London in fiction.  I wonder what would go in that?

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