Esoteric London

No. 841: Amhurst Road, E8

Posted in Graffiti, Lettering, London Types by esotericlondon on May 20, 2013

© Roger Dean RED_1100  - Roger.Dean.RGB copy

Amhurst Road, London, E8. Photo © Roger Dean 2013

Curiosities of London Life: or, Phases, Physiological and Social, of the Great Metropolis – Charles Manby Smith, 1857:

Curled up under the shelter of one of the numerous dead walls to be met with in the line of the New Road, from Paddington to King’s Cross, there is to be occasionally seen a lump of unwashed and unkempt shivering juvenility and tattered raggedness. A coarse canvas suit, which would not fetch two-pence at the rag shop, and which is full of holes and rents, does not more than half cover the naked limbs; the unclean skin, “goose-fleshed” with the wintery blast of February, looks pallidly through a dozen patchwork apertures. His bare head is protected from the sun and rain only by a mass of tangled and dishevelled hair, which drips like thatch when the rain beats over it.

The owner of the miserable garments, which barely serve the purposes of decency, can boast of neither shirt, nor stockings, nor shoes. He has huddled himself up almost to the form of a crouching cur that shrinks from the assaults of the storm, and he half hides his face in his hands as he cowers ruefully from the cold. On the shin of one leg, too, a little above the ankle, there is a bad, unsightly wound. On a smooth pavement stone at his side, first industriously cleaned and polished with the palm of his hand, he has written in white chalk, shaded with a black Italian crayon, and in characters to the beauty and flourishing fluency of which the italics we are compelled to make use of have no pretensions, the following expressive appeal:-

“I will not steal

I must not beg

I cannot work

Will you allow me to starve?”

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