We just learned a new word: Effluvia: ‘an unpleasant or harmful odour or discharge’. Homes across London remain at risk of being flooded by effluvia as a result of the capital’s Victorian sewage system and heavy rainfall. The London Flood Review concluded current infrastructure is unfit for purpose, especially in extreme weather. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
COFFEE HOUSE (n.) Purveyor of an expensive liquid refreshment said to invigorate one who doth partake.
Dr. Johnson’s London Dictionary for publick consumption in the twenty-first century avail yourself on Twitter @JohnsonsLondon
🚓 What Cab News
Recently in just one week the Public Carriage Office issued just seven new taxi driver licenses and plated 32 new black cabs. Conversely Transport for London licensed 539 new private hire vehicles and 400 aspiring drivers in this one mammoth week of licensing in London netting over £125,000 in new private hire licensing fees. The Capital’s traffic congestion can only get worse.
🎧 What I’m Listening
Goldsmiths have produced a series of street sounds titled London Street Noises, compared with those made in 1928, which at the time, drew attention to London’s rising noise levels. Leicester Square in 1928 has horses, noisy vehicles and many horns sounding, Goldsmiths’ recordings taken at the same location, day and time have people enjoying their leisure in 2018 and only the sound of pigeons during the lockdown in 2020. Fascinating.
📖 What I’m Reading
With all the razzamatazz of the opening of Battersea Power Station, I’ve revisited Up In Smoke: The Failed Dreams of Battersea Power Station by Peter Watts. Well-researched and effortlessly entertaining Peter Watts tells the whole, long sorry story of the site, from its industrial past to its future as a gated millionaires’ reserve. Saved from demolition by Michael Heseltine who gave it a heritage listing to annoy Margaret Thatcher who hated the edifice. So big you could, should want to commit suicide, accelerate a car from 0-60 within its walls. He relates how four owners over many years saw their best-laid plans frustrated by the sheer scale of the project they’d taken on. This is the story, not only of a building but of a city.
📺 What I’m watching
Fellow blogger BeetleyPete pointed me to the BBC’s London Collection, a personal compilation by Simon Jenkins comprising old documentaries. First transmitted in 1996, Modern Times: Streetwise looked at the tough training regime undertaken by black cab drivers as they prepared for one of the hardest examinations they will ever take – The Knowledge. It was filmed during my last year on The Knowledge, so I knew many of those featured.
❓ What else
For years FeedSpot has been devising tables from data on the number of ‘hits’ that a website receives. On their 100 Best London Blogs and Websites, CabbieBlog has usually languished around 50ish pushed into that place by all the female ‘influencers’, even Diamond Geezer has rarely made it into the top 20. Now recently I find CabbieBlog at number 26, probably due to the fall in long-form blog posts with influencers moving on to Instagram and their ilk. Another table, the World’s 60 Best Taxi Blogs and Websites finds CabbieBlog at the heady position of number five. Blimey!
I landed in London on a wintry autumn evening. It was dark and raining, and I saw more fog and mud in a minute than I had seen in a year.
Charles Dickens (1812-1870)
On 27 November 1975: Guinness Book of Records co-founder and editor Ross McWhirter was shot dead outside his Enfield home. The well-known author and BBC Record Breakers presenter had recently offered a reward of £50,000 for information leading to the arrest of IRA bombers.
On 27 October 2000 schoolboy Damilola Taylor died after being stabbed in the leg by a gang of hooded attackers in Peckham
The first man to wear a top hat in public caused so much hysteria and commotion in St James’ that he was arrested for disturbing the peace
London’s thoroughfares once had Thieving Lane; Whores Nest; Pissing Alley; Cutthroat Lane; Foul Lane; Blowbladder Street; and Cats Hole
Love them or loath them W. S. Gilbert of Gilbert and Sullivan operatic fame was born in London on 18 November 1836, S stands for Schwenck
When Napoleon was thinking of invading England his failed attempt was mocked by an unusual ale house sign: ‘My Arse in a Bandbox’
Established in 1902, Ealing Studios in West London are the oldest continuously working film studios in the world
Opened in 1652, Pasqua Rosee’s was the first coffee house in London located on St Michael’s Alley was burned down during the Great Fire 1666
In 1577 John Northbrooke’s Treatise deplored blasphemous swinge-bucklers, tossepots, loitering idle persons and the governing of football
In 1890 the City and South London Railway was the world’s first deep-level underground railway and the first railway to use electric traction
In 14th century London employed rakers to rake the excrement out of toilets, notably one Richard the Raker died by drowning in his own toilet
Margaret Thatcher went to the same Mayfair hairdresser, Evansky as Barbara Castle, while Thatcher sat in main area Castle had a private room