In a new and ENTIRELY ORIGINAL feature I arbitrarily choose a day of the week and a suitable alliteration to bring you vignettes of travel past and present. Today it’s the SATURDAY SNAPSHOT and we’re outside the George and Vulture pub in the City of London.
The George and Vulture is one of those old London boozers that you find hidden away in backstreets. Allegedly there’s been an inn here since 1268 (thank you Wikipedia) but the current establishment was built in 1748. It’s heavily featured in Charles Dickens’ novel The Pickwick Papers and still retains a strong link to the Dickens family.
Being in the City of London of course this place hosts archaic and utterly ludicrous groups for dinner. For those not up on their London Boroughs, the City of London isn’t one. Administratively it’s an entirely separate city and authority which, confusingly, sits in the middle of the Greater London Authority. You may also know it as The Square Mile, or simply “the city.” Anyway, whilst the GLA worries about things like transport, poverty, crime and other urban things, the City of London Corporation – serving the 7,000 inhabitants of the city and the 350,000 people who work there – is composed of such groups as the The Worshipful Company of Bowyers, whose website tells us that: “the Worshipful Company of Bowyers can trace its detailed history back to 1363 when the craft of making longbows first appeared on the list of taxation for the City of London.” As I’m sure we can all agree, making longbows is pretty important. The City also has something to do with finance and helping people to make money, but since 2008 we don’t talk about that.
But on the other hand, the City of London does have a pretty wicked crest – a dragon with a St George’s Cross – and it’s everywhere. So: swings and roundabouts.
London is full of these little gems of history that you often stumble upon quite by accident. I remember at one of my old places of work, on Fleet Street, there was a fire alarm and we had to leave the building by a door I’d never gone through before. It exited us into a little courtyard and there, on the wall in front of me, was a little blue plaque telling me that James Boswell, 18th century author of the London Journal and the Life of Johnson, had lived there. Amazed at this litte slice of history I’d uncovered, I pointed it out to one of my colleagues. He stared in silence at the plaque for a moment, obviously as moved as I was, before saying: “that’s amazing. Now can we go back inside? It’s bloody freezing.”