No. 960: Anning Street, EC2
Anning Street, London, EC2. Photo © Roger Dean 2013
In the Slums – Rev. D. Rice-Jones, 1884:
About ten or eleven o’clock at night the street begins to wake up in earnest. The barrel-organs, which only advertised themselves, as it were, during the day, now return to play for money, and sometimes go on playing till past midnight. Around them are groups of young people, indulging in the coarsest kind of horseplay, and the coarsest language. On the pavements are bands of little children, dancing to the mingled accompaniments of jig music, obscene songs, and profane oaths. From the bars of the various public-houses emanates the confused noise of many voices brutalised by drink, and all trying to make themselves heard at the same time.
But the revelry does not reach its height until the taverns are closed, and the drunkards, having squandered their last farthing, and having exchanged their children’s bread for drink, are turned out into the gutter. It is their children who, while waiting for their fathers and mothers outside, are serving such an early apprenticeship to drunkenness and profligacy. Some of the less experienced, or less hardened, children take their parents by the hand and say, “Come home, father!” or “Come home, mother!” But I have seen a daughter brutally struck with many blows in the face by her own mother for persisting in trying to get her home. Home indeed! the closing of the public-houses does not in these parts mean going home. The men collect together in groups, some of which begin to discuss politics or religion, which generally means a wholesale denunciation of capital and property, of all authority and order, of virtue, and of God.
Others, who are too much intoxicated to take any interest in such discussions, form themselves into separate groups of a more convivial character. Then, perhaps, several songs with choruses are started at the same time; and men, women, and children join in the different choruses as their fancy dictates.
It sometimes reminds me of the Carnival, which I have more than once seen at its height in Continental towns ; but at other times it is suggestive of something much worse than the Carnival. The noise is as if the gates of Pandemonium were opened, and the demons of darkness all let loose upon the street.