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Despite not actually living there, I have a love of London in its gritty, messy haphazard way. I'm fascinated by the acruing of history in its geography: that the long run of Holborn to Hyde Park is the same path trodden by Roman citizens two thousand years ago. I have book upon book about the city, far more than about my own. And the following London-related things have caught my eye recently: An Open Letters to People or Entities Who Are Unlikely to Respond ; 58 London Things; Booth's poverty map (with modern counterpart).

In fairness to Exeter, whilst the city has existed since pre-Roman times (and was a Roman trading point), it's not really on the same scale as London. The local museum, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, is a fine example of the middle Victorian municipal museum with rooms devoted to most subjects. A recent exhibition, Exeter's Choice, features objects chosen from the archives by local people and included a map of pre-WW2 Exeter. It is only when you step close enough to look for your own house that you realise it was a map drawn up for aerial bombing. When I bought my house, the old woman in the sweetie shop opposite my flat told me that where my garden is now there had been a bomb crater. The terrace on the other side of the gardens has two new buildings in the middle of it: a classic architectural sign of a bombing. It was only when I looked at this map, though, that I realised that the old building that is now my kitchen was once part of a long complex of outbuildings. Carefully drawn and shaded on a map which was used to destroy them (whilst actually aiming at the munitions factories a quarter of a mile away). It is this same sense of history deep in the stones of London which so fascinates me.

Posted @ 10:44 pm on Saturday, January 03, 2004
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