London 1888 (Come one, come all...)

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London 1888 (Come one, come all...) Empty London 1888 (Come one, come all...)

Post by nuwisha on Sat Jul 09, 2011 2:38 am

Follow the plume of smoke of the Bristol train and the houses of Notting Hill appear one after the other before your eyes. This very train stops shortly after tea time in Paddington station where luggage carriers – much too young to carry suitcases without effort – surround travellers checking in at the Great Western Hotel. The ones who have business in the City take mechanical cabs and rush into Bayswater Road. There they admire the Kensington gardens where the incredible glasshouse sparkles in the pleasant evening light at sunset. The glasshouse, well over a hundred feet high and a thousand feet wide, eclipses the prestigious Crystal Palace, not so much because of its size as because it shelters a strange race coming from outer space. The mysterious Embassy is strictly watched by the army and its access is forbidden to onlookers. As the cars go down Park Lane, they pass by the posh district of Mayfair, where white-pillared houses show how much the well-to-do profit from the prosperity of the Empire.

Sparkling in the glow of the sunset, the Scotland Yard Zeppelins come across impressive transatlantic ships from New York and ensure the upper class is safe. The cabs glide through Green Park where some passengers notice a fairy mischievously hiding among the leaves. Such a creature cannot overshadow the splendour of Buckingham Palace, where the Regent is waiting for her Majesty to come back from her stay in Faerie. Meanwhile, the changing of the automaton guard unfolds with stiff precision. The use of soulless soldiers appears justified when you see what has become of Trafalgar Square close by. The Cabs slow down. The bustle of the city seems to avoid the area, as if visitors were in the eye of the storm. A half-burnt tower reminds them how risky scientific progress can be. Anyone walking in the shadow of this fateful building feels a chill in the bones. This protoplasmic capacitor, meant to master the secrets of the ether, almost plunged the city into chaos and too many spectres still haunt the place.

The steam trams are cluttering Fleet Street; a late delivery is blocking the traffic. Maybe the passengers should have taken the metropolitan. It emerges from the underground, the engine car vomiting its accumulated smoke, and zooms on on the steel bridge crossing the Thames. Smoke… Smog; the Eastern wind brings this sickly fog over from East End and its factories and sweat-drenched workshops. Electric lights on the docks brighten the evening gloom. Day or night, rain or shine, zombies plod on the cobblestones, theirs chests and backs covered with ads. They advertise the riches from all over the world that can be found plentifully around the docks. Not a single ship has been built here for ages; the capital is now nothing but a large belly swallowing everything, man and matter, immigrant and cotton ball. The Tower of London is silhouetted against the streetlamps light, clad in a nightly cloak of mist. At its foot flows the river, carrying the waste of industrial England. On these murky waters two ships face one another. The King Albert, the flower of the royal navy, and the Ship. Sinister-looking, made of ebony, this one seems to suck in the light; it is the abode of the ancient Black Pharaoh, an unwanted but impregnable resident. Only one cab is moving on, skirting the business district. It goes into Whitechapel, into dark alleyways too poor to keep destitution at bay. The passenger must have an important task to accomplish to come in this remote, hopeless place.

Come, come... What you'll see, my Lord, what you'll see, my Lady. What you'll see, some call them illusions, wonders even indeed miracles. No word can tell their true nature and you'll have to see it with you own eyes.


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