Monday, July 11, 2005

Approaches to Doom: A tour of Clerkenwell’s East Side

Now, this isn’t the kind of thing I would normally go on, but it was fascinating and I totally recommend that if you missed this one, you make it to the Sunday event.

Alternative historian John Nicholson (look out for the white beard) led a group of fifteen on a route from St John’s Street to Angel, telling us grizzly tales of animals brought to Smithfields for slaughter.

Over the roar of the traffic – and eavesdropped by perplexed office workers ending their working day – we heard about carcases dripping, of animals crammed into trucks by wily drivers who made detours through the fields to avoid paying tolls, and how pubs would lend farmers money to bring the animals to London. Try getting a free drink out of your local and you realise how the apt the phrase ‘ah, the olden days, I do miss ’em’ is.

We were entertained by Performing London (John and Armorel, who when not singing funny little ditties and passing around Percy Pig sweets to the utter bemusement of passer bys, perform in a folk band) and had free beer at the Peasant.

So, until you have listened to tales of animal slaughter delivered with frightening relish by someone who paradoxically looks like Santa Claus, you haven’t experienced all that London has to offer. I will certainly never look at a ‘Passing Alley’ in the same light… I guess you had to be there. It certainly was history coming alive!


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