A Sustained Hallucination
This is imaginative writing in a nutshell. A barrier descends and somehow daily life goes away. Groceries, cars, holiday cards, children, teaching obligations – poof – and now 18th century London. Although it does not happen instantly, unfortunately. Sometimes it takes hours. Like today. I have been staring at maps of London in the 1780s, tracing Mary Wollstonecraft’s path through London. Literally. With my finger. I found her house on George Street near Blackfriar’s Bridge. This enterprise began after lunch and now it is almost midnight. I was rewarded with this snippet by an 18th century visitor: “In the road itself chaise after chaise, coach after coach, cart after cart. Through all this din and clamour, and the noise of thousands of tongues and feet, you hear the bells from the church steeples, postmen’s bells, the street-organs, fiddles and tambourines of itinerant musicians, and the cries of the vendors of hot and cold food at the street corners. A rocket blazes up stories high amidst a yelling crowd of beggars, sailors and urchins. Some one shouts ‘stop, thief,’ his handkerchief is gone. Every one runs and pressed forward, some less concerned to catch the thief than to steal a watch or purse for themselves. Before you are aware of it a young, well-dressed girl has seized your hand. ‘Come, my lord, come along, let us drink a glass together,’ An accident happens not forty paces away . . .” Dead horses in the street. Puddles of human waste. Ladies with two foot high towers of hair. Ah, London.