Esoteric London

No. 172: Finsbury Park, N4

Posted in London Labour, Parks, Sport by esotericlondon on October 26, 2010

Finsbury Park Bowls Club, Finsbury Park, London, N4. Photo © Roger Dean 2010

London and Londoners in the 1850’s and 186o’s – A.R. Bennett, 1924:

He wore a pot-hat, too [the merchant in hare and rabbit skins], and went with a pole hung with skins over his shoulder. He called out – at least our local man did – loudly and clearly: “Hare and rabbit-skins!” and was often summoned to door-step bargains. I believe similar merchants in other parts of London sometimes invested their call with a musical cadence. These men were credited with being open to buy cat-skins also, and there was a dark rumour that they were accustomed to sally forth at night armed with a spike and a sharp knife for the fell purpose of catching pussies and skinning them alive, furs taken in that fashion preserving their lustre longer and commanding a higher market value. The unfortunate cat when captured was placed between the knees, the spike, driven into the back of the neck, preventing inconvenient reprisals. Dexterous and cunning incisions were then made and the animal reversed with a jerk that only experts could give, and lo! the cat was on the ground entirely destitute both of skin and fight, but otherwise uninjured. Pathetic stories were told of pussies in this deplorable condition running home and mewing to be let in. One was said to have even reached the drawing-room where its mistress was holding a reception and jumped on her lap.

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