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East End

"I've always been respectable"

 The peace of mind of ordinary English people has been disturbed! A widow has been sued for possession of her flat at Bow County Court, on the ground that she was an annoyance to other tenants in the house. The annoyance was visits by a man she intended to marry.

“The thought of a couple living in the house adulterously. perhaps, and certainly immorally—worried them,” said the prosecuting lawyer. When asked “What is your attitude to this man living with this woman?” a tenant of the basement replied, “I take a very poor view of it. I’ve been married 28 years and I’ve always been respectable.”

 Counsel for the Defence: “The fact that two people who are sleeping together have no marriage lines, doesn’t make their conduct an annoyance to people in an adjoining flat.”

Book Review: 'I Took off My Tie'

'I Took off My Tie', by Hugh Massingham (W. Heinemann, LTD.). 10s. 6d.

Mr. Massingham is an author of some reputation. Impelled by "curiosity and struck by the extraordinary fact that two communities were living side by side, each with its own peculiar customs, superstitions, culture . . . . and that each was ignorant of the other," he visited, and decided to live, in the East End of London, to see for himself how workers fare.

In dealing with a subject that has been dealt with before he succeeds in maintaining a sense of proportion. He does not dramatise, neither is he sentimental. He writes in simple language, and stimulates the imagination. Anyone living in the East End will recognise an accurate picture of life and work there. But what a drab picture. Dirt, noise, ignorance and sordid poverty . . .

The Scene of the Crime (1): 'The People of the Abyss'

A series of articles recalling famous books about working-class conditions in particular areas of Britain and viewing those areas today.

In 1902 Jack London, already established as a writer in America, went to stay for seven weeks in the East End of London and write a book about it. He rented a room in a shabby quiet street, bought old clothes and a dirty cap in Petticoat Lane, and walked the streets as a sailor down on his luck. On 22nd August he wrote to his friend Sterling in California: "I've read of misery, and seen a bit, but this beats anything I could even have imagined." In later years he said: "Of all my books, I love most The People of the Abyss. No other book of mine took so much of my young heart and tears as that study of the economic degradation of the poor."

Book Review: 'No Tears in Aldgate'

A vivid picture of the East End

'No Tears in Aldgate', by Ralph L. Finn (Robert Hale 18s.)

When we are young, particularly in our childhood, we may live in the most degrading slum conditions but often fail to appreciate the fact fully. Indeed, with kindly parents, we may even manage to get by with a tolerably happy childhood, unappalled by the stench around us. Maybe that's as well. There is no evidence to show that an unhappy childhood makes better people of us, or that we are any more able to face the rigours of adulthood having had severe parents. The reverse is more likely.

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