Thursday, May 07, 2015

"Londoners" by Craig Taylor - An Intimate Patchwork Portrait of London

I have loved London from the moment I purchased my first order of fish and chips from a fish monger with bright orange hair in the East End.  She wrapped my meal in newspaper, and sent me on my way.  Now that one of my sons and his family live in the south of London, I have occasion to visit more often than in the past.  Craig Taylor has done an excellent job in distilling into print two years worth of oral histories that he accumulated from individuals in all corners of the city.  "Londoners" gives a comprehensive and balanced view of life in one of the liveliest cities on earth.  His interviews range from a squatter who has lived in a succession of abandoned buildings to people living the high life in Mayfair and Belgravia.

There are those who embrace the city and its many quirks and who could not imagine living anywhere else.  And there are those who have tasted life there and have returned to their roots in Poland or in Newcastle.  We hear from those who run the Underground and those who fly the planes that take off from Heathrow and Gatwick.  Crematory workers, fruit market vendors, sellers of antiques, taxi drivers, manicurists, currency traders, night club bouncers, social workers and policemen all weigh in to opine on what their corner of London looks like, feels like and smells like from day to day.

The overall effect of reading this book is that it made me aware of corners of the city that I do not yet know, but am eager to explore.  This book is an excellent read both for those who know London well as well as those who are looking to begin to understand this fascinating metropolis.



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