Thursday, 28 June 2012

Whiskers all a-twitch

Sir Maximus Mouse, the Cheese Tycoon - "His whiskers twitch at the hint of a boom // His whiskers droop at the hint of a slump"
Believe it or not, when I was young I gazed on the picture of Sir Maximus Mouse, the Cheese Tycoon (above) in Alan Aldridge's lovely The Butterfly Ball children's book and dreamed that one day I would be like him.

To sit in a fusty, panelled office in EC4 with a view of St Paul's, dressed in a waistcoat and pince-nez, running my beady eyes up and down the columns of stocks and shares in the pages of the FT with only a ticker tape machine for company... Very heaven!

So what happened?!

I find myself an under-employed, penurious freelance journalist (of sorts) - that's my day job. The rest of the time I am an over-worked, penurious socialist agitator. Sometimes I find time to tap out a blogpost.

I am doing a stint at a trade magazine at the moment. I have worked on this publication for years, yet I am still very much the temp.

Something wonderful has happened now, however. They have moved offices from the rather boring top end of Shaftesbury Avenue to Bankside - that's the trendy new name for the area around Southwark Street where the Tate Modern is.

I used to work down here at St Christopher's House, now demolished, for the Department of the Environment. I worked in a section called Royal Parks and Palaces, I kid you not. Bankside power station was a semi-derelict building out the back of our offices. Tate Modern was probably still a gleam in a developer's eye. 

Though the area now is half building site, the views are wonderful. I ate my lunch yesterday in front of Tate Modern, with a view of St Paul's.

Something even more wonderful happened the other day. I crossed London Bridge into the City. I thought I knew the City but I'd only skirted around the edges. I now discover I had never been there. I have now and now that I have found it I intend to explore every inch.

What a wonderful place, full of historic churches and alleys to explore, with semi- but not entirely familiar names such as St Mary Woolnoth and Walbrook. On Friday I poked my head in the door of St Margaret Pattens church. It is one of the 12 guild churches, and is associated with the Worshipful Company of Pattenmakers and the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers. You can find out more about such gems on the website of Friends of the City Churches.

I am in heaven. Am I a hypocrite? No, this is the history of all of us. The guilds evolved, eventually, into trade unions - although the origins of the big general unions are somewhat different. (I'm sure I'll get around to musing on that next year, which is the 125th anniversary of the Match Women's Strike... Anyway, back to the present.)

I love the City, I love economy, I just think it's badly organised at present.

Behind the walls people are making money, not always honestly, as we can see from the latest banking scandal, which has only come to the eyes and ears of the common people this evening.

What does any of this have to do with Barnet?

The fact that we have had to bail out the banks, the fact that they have been so poorly regulated, is one of the main reasons that we are having our services cut. It is the ostensible reason for the austerity measures of the government, and it is the ostensible reason for the ruling Conservative group in Barnet forging ahead with their ludicrous "One Barnet" privatisation plan.

I'll be back in the thick of campaigning in Barnet soon. In the meantime I am working to replenish my depleted personal coffers, and storing up treasures of history and culture in my mind and heart.


David Duff said...

Excellent! On my next visit either to the RNT or The Globe I shall invite you to lunch. Probably won't be until next year so you're quite safe for the moment!

Mr Mustard said...

Will you be eating Plum Duff?

baarnett said...

Spotted dick, more likely.

Citizen Barnet said...

I'm pretty confident that you'll forget making this generous suggestion, Duffer, so I accept. (It would be rude not to.)

Mrs Angry said...

Oh I say ...really, Citizen Barnet, leading on poor old Duff in this shameless way. He has probably packed his suitcase and is even now standing on Frome station, drooling in expectation ...

Would you like me to chaperone you on your date?

I agree with you about the fascination of the City churches & odd corners of history hidden in this area - been walking round here a bit with my son recently. Forgotten the name but the church next to Smithfields is fabulous.

Citizen Barnet said...

Mrs A,

I don't know why anyone bothers with Trafalgar Square and all that - oh, OK, I do know. But there are so many wonderful sights and corners in the City. I was in seventh heaven today! Don't know when I'll come down, as I had two forays, one at lunchtime and one after work. (It evidently doesn't take much to make me happy.)

The past is a foreign country, they say, so wandering around these places is like an expensive foreign holiday (I tell myself).

The sun helps as well, of course...

I went to Guildhall square ("Yard of the Guildhall"?) this evening. What a lovely spot! I went into St Lawrence Jewry, which is the City of London church, apparently. There was a display there about the livery companies. And there's an even bigger one on in the Guildhall Museum apparently, showing off all their bling. Do you fancy it some time? It's on till September. Perhaps we could have a bloggers' outing one afternoon.

There are livery companies for all sorts of things. (I still don't know what a loriner is.) Including some newer trades.

One could have quite a lot of fun pasticheing this (is that the word?) for Barnet. There's a great long list of the real ones here on Wikipedia:

I think we will all be wearing pattens in Barnet, if One Barnet goes ahead.

Can't you just imagine how badly someone like Brian Coleman wanted to be a Freeman? Now he'll have to settle for Freeman, Hardy and Willis (I think that's a Friday joke - almost).

David Duff said...

I never forget a threat, ooops, sorry, I mean a promise, so try and contain yourself until next year. But please, please, don't ask Mrs. 'A' along, I'll never get a word in edgeways!

Mrs Angry said...

your loss, Duff. Huh. See if I care.

Yes, Vicki, let's have a bloggers outing. Did you notice the Guildhall yard has the outline on it of the Roman amphitheatre? I believe they discovered there were women gladiators who fought there: clearly forerunners of the lady bloggers of Barnet.

David Duff said...

Oh, alright then, Mrs. 'A', I'll invite you, too, but only if you promise to leave your sword and shield at home!

(I can hardly wait ... what was that song from 'Cabaret' ... 'Two ladies ... didlee-umptie-dee ...')