Two years ago I came to London to tour. This time I am here to talk to people, feel the life of London and add to my understanding of class on this side of the pond.
I’m writing this first blog in London from the café chairs outside of Gail’s in Exmouth Market. Having an excellent latte—really excellent latte—while I write.
I spent my first days in London on my feet trucking along as many streets as they could stand (my feet, not the streets) and chatting with as many people as would respond to me. I met Keni at the Leather Lane Market. He will soon be giving up his spot because inflation is making it hard to do business. Another delightful fruit vendor at Elephant and Castle whose name I do not trust my self to spell, called me “My darling” and said my smile made his day. In saying so he certainly made mine. I met Erin right here at Gail’s in Exmouth Market. She is an advocate for professional dancers ensuring that they are paid as well as they deserve. She helped me find a grocer and a knickknack shop where I could buy a wine key. I know…how could I forget that?!
Pat and her sons run a tiny flower shop near our flats. She put together a lovely arrangement to brighten my flat and shared her views about Prime Minister Cameron’s government here in the U.K. The sense of us (regular people) andthem (politicians) is strong here.
Later that day I took an Unseen London Tour which was led by the leftist-street-artist-formerly-homeless Henri (on the right). My tour companions and I learned amazing things about the Shoreditch district. It’s now a very hot bar spot for young Londoners, but recently was a dodgy den of drug use and crime and home to hundreds of homeless. Shoreditch is also where Shakespeare’s Curtain Theater (pre-dating the Globe) was just discovered beneath several pricey apartment buildings…
…and where MI-5 ostensibly held IRA prisoners illegally decades ago in a British version of Guantanamo, only more secret.
We saw the work of Stik, Nemo, and other anonymous artists.
If you ever get to Shoreditch, find Blackall Street for brilliant samples of street art.
This was my favorite:
You should get Henri as your tour guide. He is not to be missed, and you’ll get the unreported truth about some of the issues of class in GB.