Barricades

NATO is coming to a big hotel near Newport, so most people expect barricades there, but they are also making a brief visit to Cardiff castle, so for the past few weeks huge barricades have been going up round the city centre, a very intimidating presence and  ruining any visit to the adjoining park. Today … Continue reading

British Inequality

It’s official – Britain leads Europe for inequality. Inner London is the richest region in Europe, and Britain has 9 of the 10 poorest regions, with West Wales topping this league, followed by Cornwall. The only non-British region in this list of shame is Hainaut in Belgium.

Learning From History

If the war is lost, them it is of no concern to me if the people perish in it. I still would not shed a single tear for them, because they did not deserve any better. These are the words of Adolf Hitler, but whenever I listen to the news I can imagine them coming … Continue reading

Eel Pie Island

There is a small island in the Thames, occupied by an old fisherman, who takes charge of the oziers that grow, and the swans that swim about there. The fisherman is as much monarch of his little island, as Buonaparte is of Elba; but he has one advantage which the Corsican islander has not- he … Continue reading

Dreary Lane Kew

Some more from the Epicure s Almanack: In going up Dreary Lane that leads to Richmond you pass the east boundary wall of Kew Gardens, extending more than a mile in length. This dead wall used to have a most grazing and tedious effect on the eye of a pedestrian; but a poor mendicant crippled … Continue reading

Automata

Here’s a clip of the silver swan by JJ Merlin I mentioned in an earlier post. It used to play music, and had a canopy and a few other trimmings. The importance of such creations is not just about trying to mimic life; you have to study it and understand in great depth how nature … Continue reading

A Successful Acrobat

During the course of more than two centuries St James’s Fair [in Bristol] degenerated from its more proper business intention into a kind of popular carnival, wherein many entertainments of sufficient innocence were accompanied with others of degrading viciousness. Feats of strength and of acrobatic skill by notable performers were among the lest exceptional of … Continue reading

Fairs and Plagues

The arrival – or even rumour – of plague could be disastrous for people, but life back then was dangerous, and fairs were often where a years worth of goods could be sold, so a balance had to be struck between preventing infection, and putting people at risk of bankruptcy, and possible starvation.  “On June … Continue reading

Old Billingsgate Market

This is more from the Epicure’s Almanack, referring to the original Billingsgate Market, in London’s East End,  leading down to the Thames. In the age before refrigeration, this was the best place to buy a wide range of fish, fresh from the sea or river. There were stalls where they would boil your fish and … Continue reading

Street Music for Toffs

This is again from the Epicure’s Almanack, of  early 19th century London:  “Long’s Hotel, at the corner of Clifford Street [and New Bond St] .. at this and similar resorts of fashion, the gentlemen who lead the ton [ie the ultra idle and fashionable] in dress and amusement philosophize their hours. In an evening they are … Continue reading