Name:
Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

What you have here is an old guy. In education for 30 years, started teaching elementary, ended as library and media director of community college. I've enjoyed mountain climbing, sports car rallying, was pipe major of a bagpipe band, played guitar and sang during the folk revival, walking and hiking later in life. Now fairly sedentary. Enjoy reading, esp. mysteries and fantasy, but my reading is pretty eclectic. Enjoy movies, giving Netflix a workout.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Clerkenwell

“Clerkenwell in the early hours of the morning is one of the most unsavoury neighborhoods in the whole of East Central London, which is saying a great deal....”

I stumbled upon Look to the Lady by Margery Allingham his afternoon and sat down to read a few pages. Thus I came upon the above sentence and for several moments closed the book and wallowed in memories. I’m getting old and it’s not likely that I will ever visit England again. So please bear with me. Look to the Lady was first published in 1931 and features, of course, Albert Campion and his man, Lugg. And Clerkenwell, as I have read elsewhere must have been a very different place from the Clerkenwell that I visited in 2000.

It was a very sunny and pleasant day when Anna and I decided to spend the day walking. From our hotel near Trafalgar Square, we headed up the Strand, which becomes Fleet Street. Along the way we stopped at an optometrist to have Anna’s glasses put back together, a lens having fallen out. A nice Indian gentleman did the job, no charge. We continued on to St. Paul’s Cathedral.

After a quick tour of the crypt and the gift shop, we turned onto High Holborn and wended out way toward Soho, eventually coming out at Seven Dials. By happenstance there was a celebration going on. The day had been declared a day for no cars in London. Fat chance, but we could tell that traffic was somewhat diminished. A parade was in progress. I especially recall a couple on a tandem bike, she in a very fancy long-skirted red dress with a red parasol to match and he in a suit with top hat playing a jazzy tune on a trumpet. There were stalls along the street, food and other items for sale, balloons everywhere. It was quite a festive scene. Quite a difference from the poor district of earlier times, with cheap cafes and flophouses where one could find a doss for a few pence.

And may I recommend Margery Allingham’s mysteries if you have never read them. Dated, perhaps, but plenty of action and fine storytelling. Try The Mystery Mile or The Crime at Black Dudley. And let me know if you enjoy them.

2 Comments:

Blogger julia-jones said...

Hi Frank, you maybe interested to know how Margery Allingham obtained her knowledge of pre WW2 Clerkenwell. Her first married home was Middle Row High Holborn - a location closely resembling the first scene in Look to the Lady. Before that her future husband (who she'd known since they were teenagers)lived in Seven Dials in a very unsavoury flat which he and she nicknamed The Hovel.
Glad you like Margery;s work - I'm her biographer and also a great fan though I tend to prefer the later, post-war, London novels which she set in bombed-out Bayswater.
Happy reading - Julia Jones

12:51 AM  
Blogger Bill Crider said...

Wallow all you want, Frank. I enjoyed reading your musings.

5:06 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home