A great lunchtime stroll the length of Upper Street today - always lively, always fashionable, the epitome of a stylish north London high street. And a wonderful jumble of architectural styles. I was surprised that the Lancashire lass Gracie Fields - she's the one that sang 'Sally, of our alley' - lived on Upper Street at some stage. The building is now the 'Cuba Libre' bar - what a fantastic juxtaposition.
A little further up towards Highbury Corner there's what was once an office of the London Salvage Corps - its No 5 London district office.
The London Salvage Corps was set up by fire insurance companies in the 1860s, to try to reduce loss and damage caused by fire.
Remarkably, it was only finally disbanded in the 1980s.
The street has plenty of curiosities and idiosyncracies - try the two below ... a post office (just opposite St Mary's church) complete with Acropolis-style caratyds, and a very curious statue, in Eric Morecambe-style pose, which appears incongruously on the roof of Black's, the outdoor clothing store.
Highbury Corner is of course not so much a corner as a roundabout - but it was once a corner, until a flying bomb struck in 1944.
I had never noticed before, but on the south side of Highbury Corner there's a plaque 'In memory of the 26 people who lost their lives, the 150 injured, and the many bereaved when a ... V1 Flying Bomb destroyed Highbury Corner at 12.46pm, 27th June, 1944.' There's an excellent website, with maps and photos, which gives more detail of the tragedy.
The gardens just in from of the plaque, rather grandly called Highbury Corner Gardens, must be about the smallest in London.
And the gardens in the middle of the roundabout - Highbury Island - must be just about the least accessible. They are well kept, but there's no crossing - and the gates are padlocked. There's supposed to be work planned to 'peninsularize' - is that really a word? I found it here - the island, though if it's turned into a peninsula then surely it won't be an island any more?
Camden Passage on a Sunday isn't what it used to be. And a decade or more after it closed, I still miss Finbar Macdonnell's print shop, where you could pick up a morsel of Regency insurrection for less than the price of a main course of baby squid in balsamic vinegar. A web search reveals that Finbar's business still thrives online.
I did manage to pick up one little gem - a souvenir of the Independent Labour Party's 1925 annual conference, held in Gloucester - with, curiously, long articles about Gloucester and its industrial history. And there's the words of a song: 'A Song o' the South-West'.
The pamphlet also briefly tells the story of the ILP's battle to fly the red flag from its Westminster headquarters (beneath the photo of the HQ building on Great George Street below).The cover of the pamphlet is distinctly scruffy - and the seller was trying it on asking for a tenner. 'The price of socialism', he joshed. Well, it's not the sort of thing you come across every day - and it is an unusually evocative memento from around the time of the first Labour government. So I coughed up - and I'm glad I did.
A lovely piece of political ephemera - bought from Bob Jones's bookstall, set up today at QMC at Mile End.
This was published by the Independent Labour Party in 1919 - and was a simple but very effective endeavour to show the meaning, and the limits, of public ownership.
'Our Coal Mines' but 'My Garden' ... 'Our Railways' but 'Your Clothes' ... 'Our Land' but 'My Religious Beliefs'.
And: 'Our Government (which we can change when we wish).'
A leaflet more than ninety years old and in wondrously good condition.
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