London, England, Midsummer 1941: Was London the dullest city in the whole of Europe? Perhaps ‘dullest’ was the wrong word? The question irked. Afterall the natives of the East End were far from ‘dull’. Intuitive, sharp-witted comics as they were they could get away with murder and, in reality, often did that very thing.
Bereft of flair in terms of same o’ same o’ architecture, yes. Oh yes. Austere and uninspired structures and far from camera friendly, tourist or otherwise. For God’s own sake a little more Art Deco, more, much, much more majestic Georgian crescents would look a treat, my passing thought.
Was London a ‘he’…for certain, London could never be a ‘she’, even the river running through the colourless whereabouts was commonly termed Old ‘Father’ Thames and that was unimaginative when it came to artistic endeavours? Answer? Indubitably, ‘yes’. Another tick on my mental list of this seat of government hates. Also there was the matter of the host of sterile best-tucker theatrical playhouses. I came to the conclusion that it be nought but a beefed up beer and skittles metropolis in denial, and that was not open to doubt. In practical terms the absence of any and all culinary delights was a pressing issue. My stomach was rumbling and nothing edible to eat. Wartime or not, surely this wretched city must have one restaurant with a deserving wine list and something, anything, that didn’t taste like it had been mashed into a pulp, boiled to death or saturated in dripping fat.
Then, yet another critical observation vis a vis London Town. Finding myself in a long since neglected Soho, Greek Street to be precise, a place of ribald taverns and ‘I don’t like yours’ raggedy tarts, with no place to eat I had cause to note more than a sufficiency of scowling street-walking, impervious to wounding words, whores. Absent were those prim and proper typecast career fille de joies ‘dressed’ for the occasion one might come across in other cities in other countries. It was more that these ones were short of hard currency and virtually ‘undressed’ for night-time’s unforgiving blackout duration. One would have to be as blind as a bat not to notice so few exclusive brothels, unlike Gay Paree and for that matter Weimar Berlin back in the good, not so old, days.
“You ain’t got a spare fag ‘ave you, missus? I’m gasping,” so said the hardly glamorous yet petit young brunette in the short, tastelessly short, black skirt and little else below the sternum…plausibly forgivable attire for one bent upon selling her skinny wares to drunken lowlife and camouflaged vicars alike.
“Take these, they’re French and called Gauloises. Keep the packet, I acquired a rather large quantity not long before the Germans invaded France,” my act of charity before asking, “Is business good in these times of conflict?”
Her voice, hard-life and worryingly guttural…perhaps ‘husky’ would have been a kinder description…her words, in spite of a cheeky glint in her eyes, a glint I suspected was a permanent feature of her being, relayed the demeanour of one subdued, “You’re ‘aving a laugh. I’m lucky if I make ten bob on a good day. On top of that the come the blackout, night-times doesn’t help one little bit. Mostly I end up taking shelter down the Underground with all the families with snotty nosed kids…not ideal for a moll like me, but it’s that or risk a Nazi bomb landing on me ‘ed. It don’t half stink of wee down there and all. Fuck me, it’s rancid.”
Navel-gazing gave birth to an on the spot proposition, yet not before a worse for drink soldier boy intervened saying, “Piss off posh bint, this one’s mine for the next half hour, aren’t you luv?”
Ignoring my new-found brunette acquaintance I merely smiled, handed said soldier boy ten shillings, adding, “Oh do fuck off before I have to kill you.” Chuckling to himself, muttering, “That’ll pay for the slag around the corner and a gut full of beers,” he took of his leave with not a care in the world.
Miss Brunette initially failed to appreciate the loss of a punter complaining that she needed all the ‘spondoolies’ she could lay her hands on, “I’ve got me rent to pay in that shithole where I live and now you give him the heave ho. Why the fuck did you do that?”
Taking into account that I was in London for a good reason rather than out of choice I continued where she had left off. Why act alone in what was, in any event, going to be a difficult issue to resolve when right in front of me was a hopefully capable stooge to assist my endeavours? Just prior to the soldier’s interruption I had instantly seen the streetwalker before me as the copybook right-hand woman to have at my side for what would be my decidedly risky cloak and dagger escapade. On the basis that two heads would be better than one and that money talks, I replied, “I have a much better plan for you dear girl. Firstly your name. You real name I stress, not your working handle?”
“Well Nancy, I do believe I have gainful employment for you. How does ten guineas appeal?”
Plainly it did, Nancy, all ears, listened intently as our pavement conversation continued.
“There is a man, a very fat, very rich man who at the present time is staying at The Ritz Hotel. I assume you know it?” Nancy confirmed that that was so. “He’s always had an eye for pretty girls selling their wears…take that as the compliment it is meant to be, by the way. The thing is I want you to seduce him and rest assured he will afford you more coffers on top of the ten guineas I am offering…much more if his past history is anything to go by. Are you up for the task?”
“Ten big ones! That’s brilliant. ’Course I am but they won’t let the likes of me in the bloody Ritz.”
“They will allow you in when I’ve finished with you, Nancy. I’ll turn you into a mouthy English rose, not the classic version I know, yet an English rose regardless. You have the looks if not the intonation. You have the figure if not the decorum. He just adores the common touch,” possibly exaggerating more than a little, “Leave everything to me.”
“Why do you want me to do this missus…what’s your name?”
“My name is my business as is my motive for the seduction of the fat man. Rest assured your task will be a business matter of no major interest to the ones Londoners refer to as ‘the rozzers’. Are you still willing to undertake the mission?”
“Yes. ‘Mission’ is a funny word to use.”
“A slip of the tongue, Nancy. Nothing more.”….to be continued one day soon
Herewith the ‘Blurb’ for my new book, a fictional story entitled ‘The Blue-Eyed Cat’;
‘A book of mind boggling time-travel, feverish sex, syrupy romance, ho hum history, a dark future, The Moon, Constantinople, Paris and Berlin, human consciousness, infinity, a tongue in cheek take on all things carnal, art for art’s sake and three thoroughly mad yet oh so delightful gals’
Should it take your fancy it can be found at;
Amazon UK link: THE BLUE-EYED CAT – PAPERBACK
Kindle UK link: KINDLE EDITION
Amazon US link: THE BLUE-EYED CAT – PAPERBACK
Kindle US link: KINDLE EDITION
I am not entirely sure of other Amazon global links and thus I apologize for not revealing them here. However, were you interest in this book a search on local Amazon using my name should suffice.