Snapshot of the City (and St George)

23Apr09

copyright-richard-baker-20092

In the ancient streets of the Square Mile, St George’s Day was celebrated in the red and white stripes and crosses that the English relish on their national day.

In Finsbury Circus, the early summer was marked by crowds of financial workers out lunching on grassy knolls that hosted groomed beds of tulips. The suits sipped chilly glasses of Pinot Grigio while whispering about the setting up of 4 new companies; receptionists  tottered on their heels (higher and sharper this year, it seems) cackling about crap boyfriends in the stretched limousine vowels of estuary English: “I’m, like, a hindrance to myself! His bit on the side was lying but, like, how did I know she was making it up?” On Corporation benches, an unmarried office spinster read The Pleasure Garden for border ideas; an anonymous businessman rubbed tongues with a plain girl for an out-of-office tryst while next door, the pinching of Wasabi chopsticks were proving that oriental sushi is still big business in London.

I crossed Liverpool Street and leaped on to the kerb opposite before a yellow Enzo ran me down me in a 3-second burst of 3,000 zipping revs. Over at Bishopsgate Morris Men were clacking sticks in the churchyard of St Botolph’s. Strings of English flags were draped along the courtyard as lunchtimers paced in the race for a prêt sandwich.

But this is supposed to be a recession for God’s sake! Elsewhere around the country, in family-run factories and high-street shops, staff are being tossed on the job-heaps, wondering how on earth to pay mortgages and utilities!

All this while the haves lunch in the sun – while the have-nots sink ever lower into debt. If ever Dickens’ opening from Tale of Two Cities: ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ..’ were truer, it was in Royal Exchange Buildings at the memorial to G20 police victim Ian Tomlinson where a riot police helmet visor was papered with newsprint showing the newspaper seller’s last living moments near this spot.

Confused tourists ambled by oblivious, looking up to the tall grade II listed Victorian columns. Probably the oldest bike courier in the capital limped along Cornhill looking box-junction-weary. A commuter walked past with a colleague: “You see? That’s the guy I walked past for 13 years at the station .. that’s the guy!” Otherwise, locals smirked as they strode past carrying the FT tucked outside a briefcase or a Gucci shopping bag and even a man wearing a Che t-shirt smiled to himself, as if an economic revolution of some kind was unachievable here in this cacotopia. In a JG Ballard sort of way.

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3 Responses to “Snapshot of the City (and St George)”

  1. I am surprised that you managed to get a snap of the Cross of St George on St Georges day…I thought it was against politically correct Greatest Britain to show any form of patriotism as you will be classified as a right wing Nazi…

  2. Well perhaps the BNP don’t have a monopoly on our flag any more?


  1. 1 A Wee For Old England | England's Pleasant Pastures

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