Today’s East End tour shed light on my favorite book we read this semester, Child of the Jago by Arthur Morrison. The sense of immersion into the story that I had while reading Morrison’s novel was like no other Victorian narrative I’ve read. With an East End tour in the schedule for our trip, I was hoping I could then immerse myself in the real location while walking through the streets. I’m saddened to say that wasn’t the case.
It had absolutely nothing to do with our sweet and knowledgable tour guide, Anne Marie, whose excitement and enthusiasm really rubbed off. I loved the tour. It was the gentrification that really didn’t do it for me. The area is beautiful and intriguing and certainly has a lot of great street art (my favorite being The Cosmic Lady) and restaurants, but I found it really hard to imagine how the area used to be. I would see an aging, old building and door, remove the cars as Anne Marie would say, and “transport back three hundred years,” but then when I look down the street and see a high-rise with a barber shop and optometrist, it’s hard to remember the events of Morrison’s novel.
Gentrification certainly isn’t bad, per say, but I was hoping to really, truly immerse myself in that time. Anne Marie’s pictures that she had with her really helped place myself, though.
Ending out the day was the wonderfully relaxing Thames River Cruise and some afternoon tea, and these EXCELLENT front row seats for Matilda the Musical at Cambridge Theatre – highly recommended!!