…..as I like to think Noah & Nelly would have said in a special edition of Skylark. But I don’t think they actually made an episode about mudlarking, so that’s a pretty pointless sentence you could say. But it gives me pleasure and I own this blog, so it’s staying in.
In my short time blogging, and now (no-one else is going to, ahem, blow my trumpet – so I may as well do it myself) published writer, I have been accused of a few things. Ronan Keating hater, London eccentric and occasionally just plain inaccurate and wrong, all of which have a certain grain of truth to them. But one thing I really can’t deny is that I have an overly romantic view of London and it’s history. It’s not something I feel the need to justify or rectify, and without it I wouldn’t be the man I am.
With that in mind it was with great excitement, and a fairly bad hangover, that I headed for St Peter’s Hill and a rendezvous with a Museum of London guide. It was one of the Museum’s regular jaunts down on the foreshore, this time branded as a family day out to “Bring the Thames Alive”. And so, as I struggled not bring up the contents of my stomach to add to the hundreds of years of history on the foreshore, lots of kids ran amok bringing all sorts of bits & bobs to the attention of our guide. There quickly emerged a gender bias in what our guide was being asked to look at; “Chicken bone”, “Rib of a cow”, “thigh bone of a human” and “about the 100th clay pipe” all brought to him by the boys. “19th century pottery”, “nicely glazed 17th century plate”, “leather sole of a victorian shoe” and , to quite a large degree of excitement found by the Cabbette; “fragment of a lead glazed medieval pot” from the girls. Boys eh? Give them several hundred years of history to sort through and what do they get most excited about? Bones & nails. It appeared that one poor lad (about 11 or 12 years old) was there as part of his birthday celebrations with a few of his friends. Not sure whose idea that was , almost certainly not his, and they spent most of the time writing ‘Happy Birthday Will’ in large chalk letters on any surface they could find. And I can’t say I blame them. Happy Birthday son, we’re going down the Thames Foreshore to learn about some historical stuff. Great. When do we get to Pizza Hut?
But back to the main event. If you really want to get down and dirty with London history, to be there standing amongst it all, this is the way to do. Not only do you get that, but you get to see the river banks in a completely different way. This time round I didn’t find much of interest, I’m blaming it on my school reunion the night before, but I can still heartily recommended it as a good way to spend a few hours. You only have to look at the close up of the foreshore over there <<—— to see that it is quite literally formed out of 300+ years worth of human history. Pebbles here aren’t, on the whole, formed out of random bits of rock. They’re formed out of roof tiles, plates, cups, saucers, clay pipes, pots, iron ore, coal and assorted other bits of man made detritus. Just don’t do it after too many beers and a broken nights sleep on the sofa.