More Miseries of Modern Life

So many of the world weary observations in James Beresford's brilliant best-seller of 1806 (The Miseries of Human Life, or The last Groans of Timothy Testy and Samuel Sensitive), are applicable today. Take some of his London miseries:

In your walk to the city, with a morning full of pressing business on your hands—to be blockaded by endless files of Charity children ( 3 or 4 schools in the lump), or Volunteers---a fresh-caught thief attended by his Posse Comitatus—the Bank Guard—a body of Fireman in their new dresses --&c &c, who either pin you up to the wall, if you keep the pavement , or compel you to escape them by grovelling through the mud.

Reminds me of the behaviour of tourists on Oxford Street on a Saturday afternoon. Plenty of Charity Muggers there too, and also Posses, who might do a lot worse than pin you to a wall…And talking of Oxford Street..

To be persecuted by the whimpering whine of an able-bodied beggar, close at your heels through the whole length of Oxford Street

Then there’s Bonfire Night, aka:

The 5th of November, or the Anniversary of squalling petitions to “ remember Guy Fawx, alias “ Poor Guy”---whom you would most willingly forget for ever , and whose “Plot” you now consider  as by much the most venial part of his misconduct

Regency gigs could be exasperating too:

At a concert, between the acts—after quitting an excellent place on an expedition to the Refreshment Room—finding on your arrival, every table besieged—and on your return the first song, together with all chance of another seat, completely over. [RRR]

A Treasure Hunt in London 1973

Samuel Charters was a London based American writer on the Blues and ethnic music. He was also a poet and on Sunday, February 11, 1973 he decided to publicise his latest book of poetry with a treasure hunt around London where people found the various poems. This is a transcription of the leaflet he distributed about the hunt. In the case of Speaker's Corner he writes 'I'll be near fence by Park Lane from 11 to 2. I won't be arguing with anybody and will be wearing poems. If it's really raining I'll leave about 1.' At the end of the day Charters would be at the Holly Bush pub in Hampstead from 7:30 onwards with extra copies of poems. A merry enterprise, one wonders how it went...London has changed a bit since then.


Instructions for the treasure hunt

A Note

Most of these poems were written while I was going from place to another place in London over the last year and a half. Sometimes I finally got there, sometimes I just stood around looking at something else and never got there at all, Sometimes I was just getting out of a pub or just going to a pub. Somewhere early in the time this started I bought a notebook in a stationer's in Camden Town, and the poems were scribbled into it as I went along. Since I wrote the poems in so many parts of London it seemed most natural to publish them by scattering them back across London again, in the places where I'd written them, The place where they were written and the poems themselves, in a way, were too closely bound together to be separated.

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