As previously mentioned, I will shortly be leaving my charming Fitzrovia abode for new pastures. At time of last writing I didn’t know to which new perch I would be flitting, but now I can say that I shall be moving to Wapping.
The sum total of my knowledge about Wapping prior to viewing a flat there was Bill Bryson’s description in ‘Notes from a Small Island’ of being exiled there from Fleet Street when The Times was bought by News International. Bryson describes the world of Fleet Street in the 1980s as a fabulously indolent place where very little actually needed doing yet the money continued to slosh round and round, right up until Murdoch arrived to bring low its former glories. At this point what remaining staff were left following the mass sacking in 1986 were sent unceremoniously to work in Wapping. Industrial strikes followed, making for a very tense atmosphere in the local area described vividly by Bryson, who recounts being detained in the building and forced to drive out by convoy in the small hours. This stuck with me much more than Bryson’s description of his 2010 visit to the newly revitalized area, full of prosperous docklands and city employees residing in waterside flats renovated from former warehouses and providing support for local shops and restaurants.
But indeed, this is what Wapping is like now, where you can’t move without tripping over ornamental canals with cycling routes, waterside restaurants, and colorful little allotment gardens. I would probably be more anxious about moving to a place I’ve only visited once, but I am moving in with a friend who currently cycles through Wapping every day on his way to work. Our flat is bright and cheery with a view of a gracious tree-lined quadrangle on one side and if you peer past the new-built flats on the opposite side of the street, the ornamental canal on the other (which is currently choked with duck-weed, but hey-ho.)
I am very much looking forward to moving in with my friend, and as always to a new adventure. Especially since everything in my current house appears to have chosen this moment to fall apart: our boiler has just leaking for about five days. It’s now been replaced and we suddenly have the most marvellous water pressure. They even took away the stinky old carpet that was damaged in the leak. Unfortunately they chose to replace it with cardboard boxes laid on the floor. Worse, the effect of the newly boosted water pressure has been to spring a leak in the inflow pipe to the toilet tank. This is the third leak in the house since I moved in (of water, that is. There was also that gas leak.) Yes, I believe it is time to move on. (And any one of you who says a word about the eight floods in six homes that have followed me around in the last four years can just bally well stop keeping track.)
Nonetheless I am grateful for my little Fitzrovian adventure, and I shall be sad to say goodbye to this charming neighborhood full of quirky streets. I shall mourn with great solemnity no longer sharing the same postcode as Bertie Wooster (and Jeeves!) My consolation is that I can relive the good times come 29 September, when I can go view the glorious Fitzrovia Radio Hour in the spiegeltent at the London Wonderground festival. I can’t imagine a more apposite setting for their impeccable evening-wear antics than the red-velvet charm of the spiegeltent. What a perfect way to say goodbye to the old neighborhood, and turn my sights to the new.