For those who don’t know - there is a small part of London known as “The City”. This is the quick way of referring to the “City of London”. You see - the central region of London is made up of two cities - one is the City of London - and the other is the City of Westminster. The City of London is the “ancient” side of London to the East (pre Roman times) - and the City of Westminster is a more recent phenomenon - 17th century onwards - incorporating what Londoners refer to as the West End.
The way it goes is like this:
- In the centre you have “The City” (The ancient City of London)
- To the east of The City - you have the East End.
- If you go any further east than Walthamstow - then you are in Essex.
- To the West of the City you have the West End.
- Any further west of Earls Court - and you are in West London.
- If you go even further West than West London - you will be in Slough
Now - although “The City” is the most ancient part of London - it’s surprising how the ultra-modern coexists with the ancient. And this is because it’s the centre of London’s financial district; shiny glass buildings tinted in all sorts of colours and hi-tech shapes offer dramatic visual delights as you walk round almost every corner - and it’s amazing how very often - nestling between space-age designs is magnificent classical architecture complete with Latin inscriptions. The City is also very small - only about one square mile - in fact it’s often referred to as “The Square Mile”. Again - this is because the ancient medieval road layout has been preserved - and this is what gives this place enormous character.
Several years ago I used to work in The City - and for several years. Near Moorgate. I used to know the place like the back of my hand.
I had an opportunity to visit The City earlier today - and had around 20 minutes to kill - so I wandered around near the places I used to hang out. And although the roads are still the same - many of the office blocks and shops have changed. I was reminiscing about a particular coffee and croissant shop right across my old office. I used to get a cup of cappucino from there every morning for years. I can’t remember the exact name of the shop - it had a French theme - because the shop used to sell filled baguettes at lunch times as well - and I remember it used to have an icon of a chicken in the logo. Well , I was dismayed to find out the shop isn’t there any more!
In it’s place is an Indian food takeaway shop instead! I walked into the shop - and was consumed by the smell of Indian snacks, the sound of “British” bhangra music playing and a row of smartly suited gentlemen sat on tall stools near the window tucking in to the exotic-looking food laid out in small plastic thalis. There was something very classy about the whole setup. For a start - the food items looked very expensive - and everything was immaculate, consistent and clinically laid out. I didn’t have the time to sample anything - so I had to take off - but I did get left with a very strange feeling: a sort of sadness that the old croissant shop was gone - all mixed up with a feeling of excitement about the high-class Indian fast-food shop that had replaced it.