At Your Convenience: A Lavatorial Walking Tour
Stop! Look across the street to your right. The Blue Plaque on the side of the building that is now TGI Friday’s marks where a young Charles Dickens once worked.
Here’s his great great great granddaughter Lucinda Hawksley who can tell you more about him than I can:
[Lucinda] “When Charles Dickens was 12 years old his father, mother and younger siblings all ended up in a debtors prison, in the Marshalsea in Southwark. Charles Dickens was working in a factory right here (before it was a TGI Fridays) and every morning he would leave his lodgings in Camden Town, walk here, then walk across the river to see his family in Southwark before walking all the way back again, a journey of about 8 miles every day.
“This made him very interested in the conditions of London’s poor, and one of the things that he became interested in was sanitation. When he was older, when he was writing his first novels and still working as a campaigning journalist, his younger brother Alfred Dickens became a sanitary engineer. From him, Charles Dickens learned a great deal about the need for clean water and good sanitation in London and elsewhere. Charles Dickens worked closely with contemporaries of Bazalgette and campaigners such as Henery Mayhew. He championed Sanitation for the labouring poor, and his name appears on several petitions for the improvement of public conveniences.”
Start walking again… cross the street towards the Lad Magazine. Remember what I have told you about taxis!
Turn left and walk up the street.
In this area you’ll see a lot of cycle rickshaws going by. I rode one for awhile which was great fun, until toilets took over my life.
The London Cabbies run a tight ship. They are legally known as Hackney Carriages and are the only taxis legally allowed to pick up passengers on the street.
Rickshaws get round this through an archaic loophole in the law whereby they operate as ‘stage coaches’. This means they have to charge per passenger and the price has to be agreed before you start your journey. This is useful to know if you ever end up haggling with a rickshaw rider!