This is London – how d’ye like it?

After one year here I still feel like a tourist.

After one year here I still feel like a tourist.

I never fail to be surprised by the unexpected things you find in cricket annuals.   Today in was a poem about London.  This caught my eye as it’s now just over a year since I moved to London to work at Lord’s.  I absolutely love it!  I like the energy, the noise, the architecture, the history, the feeling of being on a film set and (unlike most) I find it really friendly.  The author of the poem was not so impressed.

DESCRIPTION OF LONDON

Houses, churchers, mix”d together;

Streets, unpleasant in all weather;

Prisons, palaces,  contiguous;

Gates – a bridge, the Thames irriguous;

Showy outsides, insides empty;

Bubbles, trades, mechanic arts,

Coaches, Wheelbarrows, and carts;

Warrants, bailiffs, bills unpaid,

Lords of laundresses afraid;

Rogues that nightly shoot at men.

Hangmen, aldermen, and footmen;

Lawyers, poets,  priest, physicians;

Noble, simple – all conditions;

Worth, beneath a thread-bare cover;

Villany, bedaub’d all over;

Women, black, red, fair and grey,

Prudes, and such as never pray;

Handsome, ugly, noisy, still,

Some that will not – some that will;

Many a beau without a shilling,

Many a widow – not unwilling;

Many a bargain, if you strike it:

This is London – how d’ye like it?

I found it in W.Whitham’s List of Cricket Matches 1895.

list of cricket matches

I’m not into poetry and not entirely sure of his meaning, but most of it doesn’t sound very complimentary!  He admits there’s lots going on, which is good I suppose, but he also claims there are nightly shootings and women with loose morals and that all the streets are unpleasant.

I notice the book is from Sheffield, very close to where I grew up.  In my experience there is a lot of distrust of London life in that part of the world.  My Grandma in particular was full of complaints – “it’s dirty, smelly, noisy, full of crime, where all the money goes, over crowded, on the news too much.” (although if it was really full of crime I never understood why she should complain why it was on the news all the time, surely all that crime needed to be reported).  She never actually went to London of course.

Well I like London!  Anyone else have any strong opinions either way?  Have any of you met many ‘willing widows’ here?

Let me know.

Me and my husband being touristy at the Monument

Me and my husband being touristy at the Monument

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3 Comments

Filed under Cricket, History, Librarianship, London, Poetry

3 responses to “This is London – how d’ye like it?

  1. Linda

    ‘nightly shootings and women with loose morals and that all the streets are unpleasant’ – it’s like reading the Evening Standard today! Nothing really changes does it? But I do really like London (like, not love) it’s an odd mix of old and new.

  2. I think crime levels in London were at their worse in late Victorian times, so maybe there were nightly shootings. Glad you like London, that’s 2 so far for the likes (me and you).

  3. Sybil Ryalls

    Your Grandmother hated London, because, when your Grandfather took her for the first time, he told her that they had got to cross the Thames in a bucket, on a wire!!!

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