Sunday, 30 August 2015

"Free" #London Tours

With our Daily Constitutional archive now bulging with more than 3,500 posts, we've decided to spend the long summer days of August sharing some of our favourite moments from the past seven years. We hope you enjoy them!

This one was first posted earlier this year…

Streets Ahead is the column from London Walks' Pen and Daily Constitutional Special Correspondent David Tucker


This sound familiar? Especially the first 19 words.

"I've not come here to get money; not I; I've come here merely for the good of the public, and to let you see how you've been imposed upon by a parcel of pompous shopkeepers, who are not content with less than 100 per cent for rubbish. They got up a petition – which I haven't time to read to you just now ­– offering me a large sum of money to keep away from here. But no, I had too much friendship for you to consent, and here I am. . . . I've in this cart a cargo of useful and cheap goods; can supply you with anything, from a needle to an anchor. Nobody can sell as cheap as me, seeing that I gets all my goods upon credit, and never means to pay for them. Now then, what shall we begin with? Here's a beautiful guard-chain."

It is of course from London Labour and the London Poor, Henry Mayhew’s mid-19th century expedition deep into the world of the Victorian underclass.

Still not got it?

Hint: he’s not there to “get money.” But  – who woulda thought it? – turns out he’s got wares to “sell.” They’re “cheap” (I’ll bet they are). But – oh dear – money’s going to be changing hands.

But, but, but… If he’s not there “to get money” – if he’s there “merely for the good of the public” – well, he must be giving the stuff away.

It must be “free.” Isn’t that what “not here to get money” means?


On a completely unrelated note, I’ve been thinking about suckers lately.
What’s their birth rate now? Is it still one every minute?

Answers on a postcard please.

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