Once upon a time, I grew up in a nice, quiet, middle class cul de sac where nothing ever happened. Then I moved down to London to commence my career on an extremely modest starting salary. I had no choice but to embrace the East End, where I could get a room to rent for £300 a month. I was surrounded by Afro Caribbean shops selling plantain, hippy cafes with rubber plants crowding the windows and Irish pubs whose walls were stained saffron with the thick fug of tobacco smoke. For the first few weeks I was scared. Then I got used to it.
I haven’t looked back since.
The noise, the mix, the characters – who wouldn’t love a life filled with people like the one snapped above?
This is the rag and bone man. Stuff of myth and legend to most of us, but about once a year I hear that bell ringing and think, Quick! What do I need to get rid of? London councils ask you to leave large items of rubbish in your front garden for a collection window of a week; the rag and bone man takes it straight away.
They used to have a horse and cart. Sadly, nothing as picturesque today:
Look at that lived-in face! And the pudgy fingers that could bunch into a fearsome fist!
This post has absolutely nothing to do with sewing. (Well, apart from the ‘rags’ element. Clothes were often shipped to India, if you’re to believe Wikipedia.) But what a glimpse of the old East End of London. I hope you don’t mind me sharing it.
If you do want a more sewing related post about the East End of London, I’d direct you to this fascinating blog post about the Spitalfield origins of Queen Victoria’s wedding dress.