Nov 17, 2009

Packed London

This is St Bride's church just off Fleet Street in London as I saw it last Wednesday evening, maybe not as blurry around the edges. What struck me was how everything has been built all around the church.

That building to the left is really that close to the church. There are buildings like that on three sides. On the fourth side is a road so small that an American would never think it serviceable and then more buildings, giving the impression that the church is hemmed in on all four sides.

Here's the satellite view, although it does not give nearly as good an impression of the crammed-in nature of London.

Peter Ackroyd, in his book London: The Biography, gives the definitive account of how packed London is and how every two feet you can find something of historical importance if you are looking.

He is also the author of the novel Chatterton, which contains the funniest depiction of an elderly novelist, Harriet Scrope. Her opening line, spoken to her cat Mr. Gaskell, is, "Mother would like to piss on all this and then she would like to burn it." She is speaking of her life.