The memory of the poet William Blake can be found, maybe slightly oddly underneath the railway arches in Waterloo
A collection of large mosaics were installed in the railway arches at Centaur Street, which are more usually filled with rubbish and pigeon poo, over a period of 7 years by Southbank Mosaics with Future’s Theatre and Southbank Sinfonia supported by Heritage Lottery.
The location is surprisingly apt though, as William Blake lived nearby from 1890-1800 in the a decade that is often thought to be his most productive years. It’s when he started work on Jerusalem, which is today far better known for the Hymn than the original book — even though in fact, the hymn Jerusalem uses text from one of Blake’s other books. The title of the book and the Hymn are coincidental.
But, 200 years after he moved here, a project was set up to decorate the railway arches in his memory, and now a decade or so later, most of them are still there, rather dusty now, seemingly slightly forgotten, but that’s part of their appeal.
They are not art that shouts or demands attention in a public space. Hidden down inside passages that few choose to walk through, it’s happy to simply be spied out of the corner of eyes of people hurrying through the arches to cleaner places.
You are required to seek out the art down here in its dark lair.
As re-opening approaches, more and more pubs will be turning to new technology in order to keep staff and customers safe
When Wetherspoons made it possible to order food and drink to your table using only an app, pub-goers’ reaction was mixed. Traditionalists, to the extent that they were aware of the technology, lamented the erosion of the ancient custom of mingling at the bar. Younger customers enjoyed the service’s faceless convenience, revelling in their new ability to order unsolicited plates of peas to faraway friends.
That was 2017, which is three years and several lifetimes ago. During that time, other large pub chains have developed similar apps. Greene King have one; so do Brewdog, O’Neill’s, Harvester, and various other well-known chains. In-house software of this kind costs hundred of thousands of pounds to build, probably millions in some cases, but it is a sound investment [ . . . ]
From its Roman foundation to the 21st century, London has always been a city of migrants, as these rich histories, memoirs and novels show
The people of London have always been settlers from around the world, beginning with the Roman invaders who founded the city. While the growth of the imperial capital until 1945 largely depended on migrants from other parts of Britain, it also included Europeans, especially Jews, Germans, and, above all the Irish.
The multicultural capital that exists today has continued to depend on Europeans but people from the wider world. My own parents moved to the heart of empire in its dying days, from Cyprus, and my interest evolved from this connection to a still great global capital.
Those who have written about the people of London, especially its ethnic diversity, have included authors telling their own life stories, countless novelists, journalists and other observers, a selection of whom I outline below. Collectively, they reveal the modern history of London, providing an insight into its ethnic and social diversity.
1. Memoirs of the Life of Daniel Mendoza(1816)
London has acted as home to countless sportsmen, especially fighters and footballers, many of who have produced autobiographies. Daniel Mendoza, born in Aldgate in 1765, wrote this pioneering account of his life, which involved punching his way out of the Jewish East End to become British champion in an era when Jewish boxers became well-known celebrities, with Mendoza developing something of a cult, partly due to his ability to publicise his activities, especially through his biography.
2. London Labour and the London Poor by Henry Mayhew (1861) It proves impossible to understand the evolution of modern London without reading Henry Mayhew, who interviewed people in the early Victorian streets involved in all types of work and, above all, allowed them to speak for themselves, making him a pioneer both in the history of journalism, as his pieces first appeared in the Morning Chronicle, and in social science research. Mayhew’s interviewees and the detailed research which he carried out, provide us with information on all manner of lower-class occupations, especially on the hawkers selling everything from recycled tea bags to fried fish. Mayhew offers a panorama of working-class life largely as told by the people of London themselves.
3. Life and Labour of the People in London by Charles Booth (1892)
Much more academic in tone and not providing the people of London with the same opportunity as Mayhew does to speak for themselves, anybody trying to understand late Victorian London has to at least dip into this multi-volume survey of the capital, the first research project which used a large team, including Beatrice Potter, to provide a scientific account of the population of London, complete with numerous maps outlining the income of the different areas of the capital, as well as providing an insight into ethnicity and work.