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London at night
by Lynda Archard
©: July 2002

Week starting July 15th 2002

Monday 15th July

This week has started very quiet. There was nothing out of the ordinary until we arrived at Victoria Coach Station. Gary had told me that delivering here was a bit like being a fish in a bowl that is stared at but I had not noticed anything other than idle curiosity until today. A woman and a man sitting inside watched us pull up and the woman said something, making the man turn and stare straight at us. I laughed and told Gary he was being watched. They continued to watch as he pulled the trolley out and loaded it with boxes of sandwiches. They continued staring as he walked in and over to the shop, chatted to the man behind the counter, turned and walked back to the van and drive away.

Under the arches at The Embankment a man sat on some steps rolling a cigarette. Each time someone walked by he asked them for money and each person ignored him. A tourist then walked towards the station, saw him and immediately crossed the road to avoid him. This was obviously a tourist who had travelled to London before and knows how to keep himself free of distractions.

There are no pictures this week yet. I need to sort out my website and transfer some pages to another server so I can make room for them. Sorry if that is what you came for, please check back around wednesday.

‘Prozzy watch.’

Although we only saw three prostitutes walking along Shoreditch High Street, there were seven pimps at King’s Cross. A man was being questioned by police who had stopped their van in the centre of the road at Shoreditch and a prostitute walked away. It seems it is the punters who are caught by police and the girls are accepted in this area.

Tuesday 16th July

Now a caravan has been added to the dumped rubbish in the street near the kitchen in West London. It is full up with yet more rubbish with smashed windows and bits of jagged metal hanging off.

While I sat in Mile End waiting for Gary I watched something crawl along the road. At first it looked similar to a fluffy piece of cotton wool blown by the breeze until I realised it was not actually moving above the ground and crawled over to the edge and up the kerb. It was actually a creamy coloured very large spider.

King’s Cross was very busy at 5am. Construction workers were busy cleaning pipes away and some men poured cement onto the path. Other workers included two gas engineers, security guards, a mini cab driver and cleaners.

I am having problems getting through using my free phone number at the moment. If I don’t update daily then I will add all the updates in one go at the end of each week. Sorry for any inconvenience.

‘Prozzy watch.’

There were three prostitutes in King’s Cross and ten along Shoreditch High Street. We saw three pimps and it seems that there are always more prostitutes out in the middle of the month than around payday at the end of the month.

As a writer I do tend to steer away from stereotypes if I can. It is difficult to do when every pimp we have seen is a black man, prostitutes are bleached blonde, thin and scruffy and kerb crawlers are middle-aged white men in cars with blacked or mirrored windows. The only time we have seen police taking to anyone are when they arrest kerb crawlers and occasionally warn off a man walking close to a girl. If a driver gets lost and stops for directions he is likely to have a police car pull him to one side. How can they prove a girl is getting paid for sex or that someone is not simply lost in the area? What is simple and straightforward to the observer might not be so in court.

Wednesday 17th July

Police had surrounded Euston Underground when we went passed at 2.30am and they were still there at 5.30am. The road was cordoned off with tape and four or more cars had there flashing lights going. Three fire engines had also arrived but two had gone by 5am. The news on the teletext said there was an incident at Euston Station!

At Liverpool Street Station at 4.30am two Spanish/Italian looking women were screaming at each other. The older one slapped the younger one and used a foreign accent to communicate. A man sitting on a chair quite close to them picked the chair up and moved to the other side of the entrance and they promptly followed. He sat quiet listening and watching but ignoring them.

‘Prozzy watch.’

The girl at Deptford was out this morning after a few weeks. She looks ill, thin and gaunt. I was tempted to ask her if she is okay but then I thought she must be or she would not be selling herself on the street.

We only saw three girls in King’s Cross, one who was exchanging money with a male client or a pimp at a bus stop. Shoreditch was empty so they are either having a good day today or it was a bad one yesterday.

Thursday 18th July

At 2.30am two young women walked along the inside lane of the A40. We have seen people walking along here before but never next to the fast lane where they could get killed if hit by a speeding vehicle.

Liverpool Street never fails to entertain the public. I watched a man wearing shorts get out of his van and pull on long trousers while standing in the middle of the road. I would have laughed if a woman driver had driven up, she would have had to stop and I’m sure he would have blushed and hopped to one side.

The dark hours are now becoming longer and after a hot sunny week the weather was dull and colder this morning. A veil of cloud kept the temperature down as the sun rose around 4.30am as we left Liverpool Street.

A new delivery caused some problems this week. Gary was told the sandwiches need to be delivered after 7am and we finish work at 6am. This destination could easily fit into one of the daytime deliveries and so Gary left it in the fridge on Tuesday for the driver who starts work at around 4am. Yesterday Gary told his boss that he could deliver around 5am but he was not going to hang around London for over an hour, deliver at seven, and spend two hours stuck in rush hour traffic. Today it was agreed with a security guard at the reception of the shop that the delivery could be made and he would take it to the canteen for Gary each morning. This upset another guard who had refused delivery but pleased Gary.

The Houses of Parliament is not the only place to protest. Portland Street in Westminster has banners at the side of the road for some foreign cause that the average person in this country probably knows nothing about or cares.

‘Prozzy watch.’

Two girls walked along Shoreditch chatting but still keeping a look out for potential customers. Further along a man drove his car slowly searching for a prostitute, which irritated several drivers that had to slow down to allow him to look down every side street in the area. As soon as we passed the road works all the traffic passed him.

Friday 19th July

The kitchen forecourt was littered with boxes, trolleys and rubbish this morning. Inside the fridge Gary swore as he tried to separate orders that were all mixed up with some boxes hidden in between other orders and boxes with different addresses written at each end of some. To top that the fridge was also filled with orders from yesterday that had not been cancelled and could not be delivered to closed underground stations in London. Workers are protesting at possible safety problems if the undergrounds are privatised. Is safety really an issue?

The strike caused chaos across London. Liverpool Street was filthy after hoards of people waiting for trains had sat eating and drinking. It looked like the morning after a wild party with empty bottles, some glass ones were broken, and packaging left on walls and on the street. Taxi drivers that are already hated for their greedy meter charges that tick up by the second, while they take the long route and get stuck in traffic, doubled their fares. Busses were packed solid and others walked home.

There was evidence of some work done in the Blackwall Tunnel this morning. Silver cables ran through and a van parked inside was a radio communications company logo.

A fatal accident in Euston Road last night at around 11am was still being investigated at 3.30am. By 5am it was cleared and a witness appeal sign was tied to a lamp post searching for witnesses to come forward if you saw anything that could be useful.

At Portland Street a group of oriental people sat absolutely still, eyes closed with one hand in a perfect prayer position meditating. I am unsure if this is a ritual or a protest. I do know a lot about meditation, talking people through meditations known as path working and trance work and complete stillness of mind is needed in order to meditate with noises that can distract you from that inner calm. These people did it perfect in front of traffic and passers by.

On a lighter note we saw a woman in Buckingham Palace Road, not far from the Queen’s residence, washing her feet and legs in a shop doorway with a wet flannel.

’Fox watch’

A few foxes were out around Shooters Hill Road. The young cubs are now nearly full size and it is difficult to tell if they are young or the parents are now in search of food again. We saw one at London Bridge Station this morning at around 6am in daylight. It could live close to the newly built Assembly building next to Tower Bridge.

‘Prozzy watch.’

There were three in Shoreditch, two in Whitechapel and five in King's Cross this morning. One girl in King's Cross leaned over railings to show her tiny cleavage in the belief that she might look sexy - I don't think so! Apparently both Shoreditch and King's Cross have been cleared of prostitutes. I can't say I've had noticed. There are more here now than there have ever been - but they are different girls though.

It is the start of the school holidays this week and I won’t be working with Gary next week. The next update will be on Monday 29th July and I will also tell you if Gary witnesses anything unusual. I will also have a revamped website due to lack of space on my server with all pictures separate to the journal and one link where appropriate.

I hope you are still enjoying reading ‘Lynda’s London’ as much as I enjoy writing it. Without you I wouldn’t be doing it. Thank you for your interest.

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© Lynda Archard