A Rose, a Fuchsia and a Seed Cake

It’s the middle of June but you would be forgiven for thinking it is march. Yesterday’s warmth has given way to a chilly wind. I’m greeted as I leave the house by a white rose which has just come in to bloom. Three dead sticks arrived in April as a free gift from the news paper. It’s amazing to see how they have sprung to life. The were labelled as Red Rose, Pink Rose and White rose. Very descriptive. The blooms look as though they are true to their work.

imageAs I cross across the high walk, I notice some planters are being tended by an old man who appears to have vegetables and herbs as well as flowers. I’m guessing he lives locally and some of the planters have been given over, like mini allotments to the residents. The main planters look amazing and have a wild garden look about them There are not to many people in the foyer at The Barbican Centre today but those that are seem to be making lots of noise. Have I stumbled into a mother and toddlers club? I’m having a quick cup of tea. I have a fat Tonsil and it needs regular lubricating. The two girls serving behind the counter are discussing religion. One doesn’t seem to be understanding the other.

“What, they are a religion but they don’t do it?”

“Yeah, they just fake it”

Girls, that’s life.

I’m in the London Collection and I get a book all about the Cockney and their Dialect. I’m going to look a few things up and see if the saying “How’s your belly off for spots” can be attributed to my roots, or odd parents. I’m trying to find a book about Clerkenwell but the copy was not where it should be on the shelf. I feel I need to research the area for you readers.

The July magazine produced by the Library is out and I pick up my copy. Not many Libraries produce a monthly magazine like this. I’m checked out in person.  The Display at the Library entrance is of close-ups of flowers and I stop to browse before making my way to the lift. Talking of the Lifts, anyone who visits will know there are four lifts, two on one side two on the other. Which ever side you wait at, the lift comes to the other… Guaranteed.

imageI pass the laundrette and there is an older couple watching their washing. They don’t speak. There is a very informative poster on washing labels that I notice and make a note to learn  up. I get to the Barbican fruiterers and decide today is the day. I’m going in. I pick up this rather fine fuchsia for £1.80. If that’s not a bargain I don’t know what is. The owner, John, is serving and old lady with a push along trolley. That seems to have come out wrong. The Old Lady has the trolley, not John! He sorts her old three bananas of varying shades so they’ll be ripe at different times. They both know each other by name. Service. You don’t get that at your Tesco Local. He breaks off from serving her, to collect my £1.80 and another customer holds my fuchsia while I look for the money. I could do with a trolley like the old lady’s. For the first time I see students going in to the Italia Conti building. In fact there are several Lycra clad girls hanging out of a window. It’s like Fame with out the headbands.


I’m walking along the other side of the Clerkenwell Road and you would think I was somewhere completely different. Its funny how you miss imagethings because you are so close up. I don’t know why I am surprised but I find the Chapel of St Johns which is obviously where the road near by gets its name. At least if my Fat Tonsil flares up anymore, I’ll have the first aiders on hand. There’s a secret garden that will need further exploring. The Italian Church of St Peters reminds me that the area of Clerkenwell was very Italian and may explain the number of independent coffee shops. The church is also a very good example of something that showed up better from over the road. There is a rather ornate memorial in the porch and I can see the writing today as I’m close up. But its in Italian so I’m none the wiser.

In Holborn I was given a free Rustlers Hot Panini in a long life wrapper. As I take it, I throw it back at the girl who catches it like a rugby ball. We laugh and she gives it back. I always like something for free. I’m loading up. I’m hoping I don’t lose too many buds of this fuchsia. As If to call me a liar, it is now warming up with the sun making an appearance. I’d like to take this cardigan off but I’ve no hands. I pass the London County Council School of Art building and wonder what it is used for today. More research to do.

As I walk along Southampton Row, I see another Blue Plaque that proclaims, John Barbarolli lived here. Like my Auntie Hilda, he seems to have moved house many times but not gone far. There are several round near the Brunswick centre. We’re near Academia again and I pass a Chinese student who is carrying a note pad and papers tied up with string like a parcel with a bow on top. I’m not sure what weather he is expecting but they wont blow away in a gale. I smile, but at least he’ll know where they are. Unlike me when I need to find any important piece of paper.

I know, you are all wondering about the seed cake. I do pop in for a pot of tea, but no seed cake. I had a raspberry fondant fancy with a chocolate flake. I passed the shop where three weeks ago I bought a packet of Caraway seeds ready to make the seed cake. Time has passed and I still haven’t got around to it. This weekend is a must.

And talking of time, I’ve noticed it’s twenty five to four and like a modern-day Cinderella, I make a dash to Goodge street Station to tap in before the stroke of four. It’s a pound dearer to travel in the rush hour and that would buy another fuchsia……. almost.


Jobs for the boys

One of the most interesting areas to borrow books from at the Barbican Library is the London Collection. These books have been collected as other Libraries have discarded them to create this unique collection that tells the story from London with many old books that can be borrowed rather than looked at in a reference Library. This one I’ve borrowed has Withdrawn stamped in the cover and its previous home’s loss is the Barbican’s gain. The book I’ve borrowed is Trades for London Boys and how to enter them compiled by The Apprenticeship and Skilled Employment Association, published in 1912 by Longmans Green and Co (Offices in London, New York, Bombay and Calcutta) You would think that a book like this would long have disappeared. I had similar books in the 80’s for careers advice. Your Choice at 15+ by CRAC springs to mind. The job that caught my eye was Packing Case maker. Now I have no desire to become a Packing Case Maker but my family history research shows that several of my ancestors were. I thought it would be good to find out just what the job entailed. 1) Cutting up of the planks. Even in 1902, this is mainly done by a machine. If they are cut by hand, I’m told boys are not taken in to this department. 2)The Jointing of the wood. 3) The Nailing of the cases together. 4) Tin case making. I am told that the three departments are all quite separate. apprenticeships are not unusual and boys are taken on to train without indentures. Boys are not usually put to work until sixteen owing to the heavy nature of the work. Wages start at 6 or 7 shillings a week and the boys soon become useful. There is a trade union listed: London Wood and Tin Packing Case Makers’ Trade Society, Secretary C Hargreave, 4 St Georges Square, Forest Gate. The union has a minimum rate of 8 1/2 d. per hour and a maximum of 9 1/2d.  for wood packing case work. Tin packing cases paid slightly less. The union does not encourage piece work. The union provided an out of work benefit and superannuation allowance to its members. The hours however were 561/2 hours per week although they warn that the work might not be regular and that as much as 12 hours a week may be lost. Something that the guide does not mention as a career path seems obvious. Members of the Tasman family emigrated to Nayack in America where they took their packing case making skills and started a sideline as undertakers. I guess its another type of packing case!There are still Tasmans in that area today.

Withdrawal Symptoms

I’m having withdrawal symptoms. I couldn’t go!

Last Friday would have been a trip to the Barbican day but I had to wait in for a Washing Machine and so that was that. You’ll be pleased to know its all installed and that I’ll be clean on my trips from now on. I know what you are thinking. Why not drop in a Bag Wash to the Barbican Laundrette? (or Laundry- ette as my East End family would say) After all, its soft water would ensure a lovely finish, even if drying times have been reduced due to climate change. It could have saved the price of the new Bosch, but its too much to carry on the tube. I’ll have to remain a spectator as I pass by.

So it will be this Friday that I visit. It’s the first time its gone three weeks before taking my books back. And for the first time, I had a music score that I’d borrowed before. I’ve been busy in the weeks so far. I’ve played through the Smike Score with the record. Its funny how the keys change depending on the singer I suppose. Fortunately, the Clavinova has a transpose button and a quick press means I can follow the music (which I do from time to time) and still be in tune with the record. The more I play the music, the more the memories come back from the St Edwards School performance. I’d love to be putting it on now.

I’ve also been doing some research and thinking of some other things to look out for on my travels so there will be plenty to look at in days to come. I’ve had some nice comments from several friends who have read the blog for the first time. And I’ve watched a view videos about WordPress that have made things clearer and hopefully will improve the look and layout of the site.

You can always help me further by commenting on what you read, asking questions and giving me suggestions for things to research and look out for. And of course, you can help by sharing the link to the site.

I’m reading up about Packing case Makers now. Maybe a change of career?