Living for the City

I’ve been taking a taxi to work of late (luxury courtesy of the most profitable department in the university) and it seems no cab driver really knows what’s the best route between Wood Green and the Aldwych. I’m not convinced there’s a most efficient route either (at least by car), but I think my favourite is my new Cypriot driver buddy’s preferred option. This goes via Green Lanes and Newington Green to Old Street, then down Old Street through St Lukes, and down right into the heart of the City of London – St Pauls, Gresham St, Postman’s Park, Ludgate Hill, Fleet Street. I’ve been reading a lot about the City recently, for one reason or another, and I’ve resolved to spend some time wandering about here at some point.

I’m currently reading the illustrated diary of Samuel Pepys – he lived on the Strand and in Seething Lane right through the Great Fire and the preceding plague (eerily reminiscent of the doom-mongers predictions for swine flu…). I’ve also been looking at the streets a lot researching the Howards/Eliots of Tottenham – they located themselves around Old Street, Garlick Hill and St John Street. The Quakers with which the whole family were intrinsically linked operated around Smithfield and Finsbury, as well as Gracious (now Gracechurch) Street and so on. I’ve also had opportunity recently to see a more modern take on the city as world financial centre, courtesy of Doreen Massey’s World City. So it’s an interesting place, and the more I know of it, the more I like it.

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