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London at night
by Lynda Archard
©: August 2002

Week starting August 19th 2002

Monday 19th August

The weekend has seen the hottest days this year. London is unbearable in the daytime heat but the views were fantastic as usual. A group of four cars were parked on Waterloo Bridge and a large group of people looked along the Thames, which was clear of mist and lit well by the moon. This sight still takes my breath away every night, even after growing up and living here for 42 years. I fully understand the attraction to tourists.

At the Embankment Underground Station a figure was curled under a coat huddled into a doorway. At first it looked like a sack of clothing until a hand reached out and scratched a bare leg for a few minutes. The coat was lifted to reveal a woman who looked fragile and in her fifties.

As we went through a green light near Tower Bridge at 5.30am Gary stopped suddenly and swore. To our right a man had screeched to a halt passed the red light, which he had ignored, and he shouted sorry to us. Our van was empty by this time and the speed the car was going meant he could have easily turned our van over if he had not seen us at the last minute. Once again a night driver thought the roads were clear enough to ignore important road rules.

’Fox watch’

There were lots of foxes this morning, mainly around the Shooters Hill area. An adult fox licked the face of a younger one in a car park close to our delivery area. All of the others were lone foxes out walking or lying in the roads until cars passed by and then they run and watch from the side until it passes.

‘Prozzy watch.’

There were four girls at King’s Cross at 3am and four more had joined them by 4.30am. Two prostitutes hung around the corners in Shoreditch who we have not seen before. As the police move them out so others move straight in.

Tuesday 20th August

It is slightly colder than yesterday, although still warm. Piccadilly was packed with people from the local nightclubs and a large number of gay couples around the gay clubs in Shoreditch.

There are more road works around Trafalgar Square than I have ever seen, branching into every road. I’m sure it is the most chaotic place in London during the daytime rush hour. A TV program that I watched last week was a debate on the pigeons in the Square. Apparently our mayor, Ken Livingstone – who was voted in because we thought he understood London and its people – has an idea that this area needs pavement cafes, as if there were not enough already elsewhere in London. Since the sale of food for tourists to feed the pigeons was banned they have been dying of starvation. There are too many to find alternative areas to live and animal lovers have been feeding them when they can. The debate was a farce with a comedian cracking jokes about flying vermin and talking over the sensible debate of the pro-pigeon people such as Carla Laine who stated rightly that the first step in cleaning up the area should be to get the drug and alcohol abusers out of the area. Several members of the audience, all of which lives local to the Square, said that people come here for feeding the pigeons. There is nowhere else that you can experience so many birds in one place in the UK. They really are a tourist attraction with minimum health risks compared to the mess people leave behind, which include broken bottles, syringes and filthy rubbish.

At 4am seagulls were circling above King’s Cross Station. When they come this far in land it usually means rain will fall. Sure enough the rain fell most of the afternoon and evening.

‘Prozzy watch.’

One prozzy sat on the pavement at King’s Cross while three more walked around the road side. Four girls stood in Shoreditch and two walked along Whitechappel Road. A drug dealer seemed to approach people passing by as we sat at traffic lights.

Wednesday 21th August

This morning was still warm after yet another day of rain yesterday. An armchair has replaced the caravan that was abandoned close to the kitchen and roadworks are still the bane of London drivers. There seem to be a lot more witness appeal signs everywhere asking for contact with witnesses to assaults, muggings and road accidents, including a road death.

’Fox watch’

Watching young cubs grow since Easter and form themselves into pairs through the summer was the highlight of working at night. This morning a fox lay dead in the road and its mate sat staring from the pavement. It made me realise that whatever type of animal we are, human, fox or fish, we all have emotional feelings for our chosen mates. It is hard enough to see dead animals along the roadside, but it was only today that I saw the sadness and loneliness in the eyes of a fox grieving. I don’t think I need to say more than this.

‘Prozzy watch.’

One prozzy at King’s Cross and four stood chatting opposite Euston Station. Some girls look as young as 15 from a distance, wearing clothes fit for a teenager. Up close most look at least 30 with haggard faces from drug abuse and life on the streets of London and other towns.

All in all there were some very sad sights today.

Thursday 22nd August

Outside the Petrol Station at Leamouth are two buckets of sand. Customers had thrown empty packets and chocolate wrappers into them, which means anyone grabbing them to quell a fire would be filling the fire with more burnable junk than sand. Some people are just suicidal – or stupid!

Speaking of suicidal idiots – we drove behind a man on a moped with no backlight at 3.30am through Whitechapel Road. He was swaying all over the place and riding in and out of traffic. At the traffic lights Gary shouted to him in case he didn’t know and he said he did. When Gary told him that he could be splattered along the road if a vehicle hit him he shrugged and carried on.

A smashed up car is now parked on the pavement in Shooters Hill – at the same junction where the girl got hit by a police car only weeks ago.

Euston Station had a large order today – 6 sandwiches!

When we arrived home at 6am Gary noticed our car door was open. It had been broken into for the second time in just 16 hours. Yesterday afternoon I came back from shopping to find a smashed window at 2.30pm and we spent our last money on another one from the breakers yard. This morning between 2am and 6am the door panel had been forced, my broken passenger seat forced forward and a wire cut under the steering wheel that operates the right indicator. The only thing stolen was a new ignition complete with keys that was in the car when I bought it last year. It has taken me from last October until May this year to save for tax and insurance after buying the car and I have not driven it much yet because Gary likes driving and I haven’t had a chance to drive. We took everything out yesterday and I cannot understand why anyone would want my 12-year-old Citroen AX worth about £200. I wanted this car because it is cheap to run, small and cheaper for insurance. It has no power steering or fancy gadgets, no sunroof and hardly any petrol in it. All my friends laughed at it and now some macho little boys who can't be bothered to work and save like I did are determined to get it for free. Why would someone choose my car over others in this area? And why cut wires if you don’t know what they do? It does not make any sense. I thought of wiring it up to the mains electricity but Gary says that it is illegal if they die. Oh well! It was only a passing thought. Anyway, I believe in karma and if they come back for a third go then I pity them when they get three-fold what they deserve. It really is stupid to steal anything belonging to a practising witch that is more than capable of reflecting back what is aimed at me! I think the rune spell inside the car might be the reason they have got disturbed twice already. Anyway my insurance is worth more than the car!

‘Prozzy watch.’

It seemed very quiet this morning with one prozzy on the hunt a little way up from King’s Cross and only two in Shoreditch. One had bleached blonde hair and at least three inches of black roots showing. I don’t know how much they earn but it must be more than a packet of bleach!

Friday 23rd August

Well my car was left alone last night but it was a terrible feeling as we drove round the corner wondering if it would be there or not. We have now parked in front of the house instead of at the side and other people in the road are now putting their cars in their garages at last.

This morning a large chunk of wall is missing along Marylebone Road. It looks as though a large vehicle such as a bus has hit it. There was also a very large sized red bra in the middle of Aldgate High Street. Someone must have had some fun yesterday!

The funniest thing I saw was a taxi driver who had parked yet again in the disable bay outside Liverpool Street. He got out and walked around in front of about 25 people waiting for the station to open when he must have had an itch. At first he scratched his lower stomach but the itch must have been lower. He then placed his hands in his pockets and tried to scratch discreetly – it didn’t work because I was in the van laughing at him and now the world knows.

We saw the police questioning yet another driver. This time it was a WHITE man! This is the first white man I have seen pulled over by the police in London. Perhaps they are now realising that not all black men are driving illegally.

‘Prozzy watch.’

At 3am there was no one other than tourists at King’s Cross. It looked like the police had actually cleared the area but by 5am there were five prostitutes walking the streets again. There were also two girls in Shoreditch and a big woman standing at the Mile End side of Whitechapel Road.

Have a lovely extended bank holiday weekend, I'll be back on Monday 26th August because Gary has still got to deliver sandwiches for those holiday makers coming to London.

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© Lynda Archard