Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Walk: Alexander Pope's The Dunciad

Tonight, Walking Victorian London was doing a walk called Alexander Pope's The Dunciad. Never heard of it before, myself, but I'm always up for a historical walk, particularly one that takes me somewhere I'm not familiar with!

This one started from Blackfriars, which is walking distance from the office, so I set off in decent time, on what was a very pleasant evening:

Meandered down to the Embankment, then along the river to where I assumed we'd be meeting, at the entrance to the main train station. When I eventually got across the road.. yes, there he was, and I thought I recognised him from behind, although I went to the front to peek at the sign he was holding before going over. I have been on one of his walks before, back in spring.. and yes, he did recognise me. We were all quite prompt, actually, but he hung on for a bit, just to make sure he hadn't forgotten anybody was coming.

And so we started with a wee biography of Alexander Pope, who, it turns out, was Catholic, and unfortunately for him, born in the same year as the Glorious Revolution, which deposed the Catholic King James II and replaced him with the Protestant William of Orange. What this meant for him was that he was subject to anti-Catholic laws, which, for example, prevented Catholics from living within 10 miles of Westminster. (Gee, and here's me, a baptised Catholic, living right in the borough!) The family had to move to the countryside. The laws also prevented him from attending university - a fact that seems to have rankled with him. He was pretty much home-schooled, and a great student of the Classics - he directed much ire against people who rejected them in favour of modern ideas.

And so to The Dunciad, which essentially seems to be a poetical tirade against people of whom he disapproved. Well, he had had an unfortunate start, which would have made him understandably critical of those in power. Be they royalty, politicians, or fellow writers and poets, it seems to have been a rather unwise practice: and, indeed, being a man of small stature (he'd been ill as a child and his growth was stunted), apparently he took to never leaving the house without being armed, and taking with him his massive dog.

Imagine having a tirade against people that you disagree with be one of the things for which you're best remembered! Anyway, our walk passed some places that were mentioned in the work, and took us down many dark and winding alleys - just the way I like 'em!

We had a nice sit-down for a bit near Dr. Johnson's House - and right around the corner, passed another tour group (different itinerary, I'm sure!). We passed near the legal district of Lincoln's Inn:

..and, passing through Theatreland (Pope had quibbles with some actors, too, who were in the pay of the government), finished up on Strand:

We passed many historical places of interest en route - but well, this is London, and that will happen; you can't keep mentioning them all! An interesting walk, in all - he finishes at the end of the month, apparently. And his non-Meetup company is called Footprints of London.

A nice, early finish then - and it was handy that the walk turned itself in the direction of my office! Tomorrow, more sociably, Up in the Cheap Seats is off to the sold-out Albion, at the Almeida. Then I'm back to Ireland for the weekend again - hopefully, by that stage they'll have cleared the roads following Storm Ophelia. And Storm Brian.

On Monday, I finally get to see Apologia, at Trafalgar Studios - London Dramatic Arts was going to this a while ago, but it was far too expensive on that occasion. Well, that's what you get for having Stockard Channing and Laura Carmichael in it! Amazon Tickets again.

And finally, I'm hoping for a nicely scary Hallowe'en.. when I heard that they were doing the first-ever stage production of The Exorcist - and what's more, it's on in the Phoenix Theatre, right behind the office.. well, that was fate, wasn't it?! I jumped to get a ticket for that, as soon as they went on sale - after all, Hallowe'en has to be its most popular night! Jenny Seagrove plays the mother of the demonically possessed teen..

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