Friday, July 18, 2008

Almost packed

I've got the passport, way too many books, lots of shoes, a rain jacket and my official Dickens Fellowship membership card and pin packed, and I think I am about set. Tomorrow evening I should be landing in Heathrow and jumping on the "tube". It is difficult to believe that it is time to go.

I am eager to add photos and video and tons of interesting tidbits to this blog as I delve deeper and deeper into what remains of Victorian London. With that said, I am extremely thankful I won't actually be experiencing many of the sights and smells of London circa 1850:

If a late twentieth-century person were suddenly to find himself in a tavern or house of the period, he would be literally sick - sick with the smells, sick with the food, sick with the atmosphere around him, (Peter Ackroyd in his biography Dickens).

And according to writer and Dickens expert David Perdue:

The homes of the upper and middle class exist(ed) in close proximity to areas of unbelievable poverty and filth. Rich and poor alike are thrown together in the crowded city streets. Street sweepers attempt to keep the streets clean of manure, the result of thousands of horse-drawn vehicles. The city's thousands of chimney pots are belching coal smoke, resulting in soot which seems to settle everywhere. In many parts of the city raw sewage flows in gutters that empty into the Thames. Street vendors hawking their wares add to the cacophony of street noises.

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