On the face of it, the three items I lay before you are nothing more than old pieces of tat.  And not even whole bits of tat, just fragments of rubbish.  But to me, these item represent, probably, my most treasured possessions.  Partly because of what they are, but equally because I found them myself.  Mudlarking is a London tradition and has many associated activities. (insert bit about other trades)  But if you want to Mudlark these days, you have to spend seven quid on a permit from the Port of London Authority.  Or, like us, you can look out for one of the rare outings the Museum of London organise.  With an excellent guide to help us, we learned all about the sort of historical debris you can find on the Thames foreshore.  Clay pipes, thrown in to the river after just one use were the Bic biros of their time, and can still be found in large quantities.  Plate fragments and roof tiles seemed quite common but our guide spoke in mythical terms of roof tiles from the time of the Great Fire.  These could be identified by their blackened sides, with the centre remaining the original red colour.  So, ignoring all the clay pipes, untold gold coins and general treasure, this is what I wanted, my own piece of the Great Fire.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the keenest eyes in the world I was struggling to find any old stuff let alone an elusive Great Fire Roof Tile (TM).  Then, all of a sudden, there it was.  Positively identified as the genuine article by our friendly expert, I couldn’t have been more pleased.  England win the World Cup?  Chelsea win the Champions League?  Naff off, those things are pipe dreams, figments of the deranged, feverish football loving part of my brain.  And as nothing in comparison to the tangible, real elation I felt at that moment.  It may well be just a piece of old tat, but it’s my piece of old tat.  A direct connection to the Great Fire, to Pepys and his parmesan, to Wren and his grand plans to rebuild the city and me.  The boy born in Pimlico, raised in Morden and now resident in Tooting.  Who, for a few hours anyway, felt like he was an integral part of London.


One thought on “mudlarking

  1. Pingback: all aboard the mudlark…. « the cabbies capital

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