Sorry that there’s been such a long hiatus on this trusty blog. My life has sped up recently and my thoughts have been scattered to the wind. I’ve become gainfully employed at a nice publishing company and have actually been able to enjoy a bit of London again. I also went to York for a weekend jaunt, where I braved the bitter cold and attended a vintage fair. If there’s one thing that York always brings to mind, it’s how old it is. As an American I never grew up with immediate, local examples of extremely old history. My state was historical, but it only spans about four centuries. When settlers were reaching my shores, York had already existed for more than a thousand years. Its history is a entity that cohabits peacefully with its citizens, making sure that it is known. To a less extreme degree, the same happens in London every day. The past is constantly enveloping the present. Not satisfied to remain in museums behind glass with limiting descriptions, it creeps in where you least expect it, daring you to try and forget.
When I speak of the past, of these overlapping urban histories, I don’t mean the obvious attractions of war memorials, tourist attractions and well scrubbed stately homes. The past that I encounter regularly appears in new pubs that still have signs high above that state that there once existed a half-way house. Ghost stations which sit quietly on side streets in the night, with lights from the street lamps reflecting off their red tiles. Chicken, kebab and corner shops whose fading and peeling stonework reveal that Hawkins worked there as a grocery and provisions merchant. Tesco shops that reside in interwar, art deco factories. These histories jostle each other in order to be seen, forcing an unsuspecting audience to ponder how they reached this point. Areas all over London still bear witness to the stream of immigrants and working families that made the city their homes, creating neighbourhoods whose ghosts still reach out, waiting to be discovered. It is a heady experience to walk through the past so frequently and stumble back into the present, dazed and full of wonder.