Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Jubilee - A London Story

I can't say that I've been actively celebrating the Jubilee this weekend, but I've been watching the pageantry with interest. No Jubilee-themed food in the house this weekend, just a bit more fruit and cake to nibble while watching the celebrations. The service at St Paul's this morning interested me the most. Much of the pageantry - fly-past, marching bands and massed ranks of marching solders are familiar. We don't often see a procession to St Paul's, never mind the spectacular flotilla on Saturday. Two things that are often left to tourists are the river and St Paul's Cathedral. I'm determined to change that - I intend to go along to hear a service and take a riverboat, perhaps from central London down to Greenwich to see the newly-restored Cutty Sark.

My newest book, Five Farthings, was published in 1939. Then, a visit to St Paul's didn't mean an entry charge and city rents were low enough for a flat large enough for a family of four to live in comfort in a flat overlooking the cathedral. I was determined to find a classic and modern view of St Paul's and was lucky enough to find a talented artist whose linocut is used on the front cover. That's a view of London that I hope won't be obscured by skyscrapers or advertising hoardings. I like the timelessness of it and the peace of the stars above the city. The novel is one of the best stories of London, from the bustle of the City, to the elegance of Covent Garden, to the white stucco of Kensington and Piccadilly's lights. Bus routes are still recognisable and enjoyed by tourists and commuters. I think most people will take the front seats on the top deck of a red double decker if given the chance. Finally, there's even a Royal procession. Today's Royal Family took the same route down Fleet Street towards St Paul's. Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose may have been cheered on by the Farthing family, but the bands, the clatter of hooves and the spectacle remain remarkably similar.

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