Monday, 3 June 2019

London After Dark in Postcards

Until recently London was emphatically not a 24 hour city in the way that Paris and New York are. But, due to its northerly latitude there was no shortage of darkness to portray on postcard views of the city. Whistler and Monet may have found visual poetry in the mysterious crepuscular gloom of the fog-bound metropolis but this did not readily translate to the postcard although that hasn’t stopped some from trying. The best results were some rather sombre nocturnes. London was never the most glamorous of cities, even under cover of darkness a starchy sobriety prevailed. The night life was often seedy and prudish. Perhaps the only city where discomfort was an aphrodisiac. Timidly transgressive when compared with Rome or Berlin - cities where human depravity was catered to without inhibition or apology. London’s High Court Judges, Peers of the Realm, stalwarts of the armed forces and senior clergymen may have earned a reputation for dissolute behaviour but they took care never to remove their socks. At a time when Parisian “maisons closés” offered elaborately decorated exotic fantasies to their clients, their counterparts across the Channel were resolutely joyless establishments for functional transactional couplings. So I’m told. All this talk may have raised expectations that something salacious is to follow. Sadly, nothing more than a parade of rain swept streets, neon lit advertising and all but impenetrable fog.

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