“London opens to you like a novel itself. […] It is divided into chapters, the chapters into scenes, the scenes into sentences; it opens to you like a series of rooms, door, passsage, door. Mayfair to Piccadilly to Soho to the Strand.”
“The poverty from which I have suffered could be diagnosed as ‘Soho’ poverty. It comes from having the airs and graces of a genius and no talent.”
“The dismal quarter of Soho seen under these changing glimpses, with its muddy ways, and slatternly passengers, and its lamps, which had never been extinguished or had been kindled afresh to combat this mournful re-invasion of darkness, seemed, in the lawyer’s eyes, like a district of some city in a nightmare. (The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)”
Robert Louis Stevenson
‘There is an area of London called Soho. Soho is roughly equivalent to Greenwich Village in New York. It has a lot of coffee houses, folk clubs, beat clubs and I worked there often and I used to go and see friends who were working there, so I was in and out of Soho very very often.
One day I got caught in a downpour and I stepped inside St Anne’s Cathedral, which is on a little park in Soho, St Anne’s Cathedral. I was impressed with the sermon that I heard being delivered. What impressed me was that it didn’t say anything, nothing. When you walked out of there, it didn’t make any difference whether you walked in, unless you dug stained glass windows you know. Because the meek are inheriting nothing, nothing and that’s the basis of this song called ‘Blessed’.
“We are far from liking London well enough till we like its defects: the dense darkness of much of its winter, the soot on the chimney-pots and everywhere else, the early lamplight, the brown blur of the houses, the splashing of hansoms in Oxford Street or the Strand on December afternoons.There is still something that recalls to me the enchantment of children—the anticipation of Christmas, the delight of a holiday walk—in the way the shop-fronts shine into the fog. It makes each of them seem a little world of light and warmth, and I can still waste time in looking at them with dirty Bloomsbury on one side and dirtier Soho on the other.”
“The builder has ginger curly hair on top of his head, and a thick moustache. He has the look of a McDonald’s manager from 1970 who spends his evenings sitting in the smoky back row of theatres in Soho. He’s tall and muscular with hands the size of shopping baskets and, on the one occasion I did briefly meet him, I stared into his eyes and was shocked by their darkness. His nose is broken in three places and is the size and shape of a chicken nugget. A deep scar runs the length of his cheek hinting at a violent past. Old tattoos fade on his arms. The builder may have killed another human being at some point in his life.”
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