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.