Saturday was a day for redemption.
I published a post last month about a somewhat disappointing walking tour and an even more disappointing concert cancellation. Susan and I went on another walking tour entitled, “Law and Order E.C.” Our group was actually the first to preview this particular tour. Sometimes it’s not so bad being a guinea pig 🙂 Our guide, David Charnick, took us around the city and shared interesting moments in London’s crime and law enforcement history. He regaled us with tales of debtors prisons, terrorist acts both successful and un, John Tawell the “Quaker” poisoner (who’d been kicked out of the Quaker organization but spent his life trying to reenter in order to take advantage of their reputation as hard-working, trustworthy people and further his business dealings), and the origins of Old Bailey, the Central Criminal Court. My favorite, though, was the account of Kitty Byron, mistress of Reginald Baker and convicted murderer, who avoided execution for stabbing ole Reggie to death (outside the post office, in full view of anyone who happened by) in 1902 by citing “provocation” in defense of her crime.
Whereas men were initially allowed to claim they had been provoked as their explanation for being violent towards the women in their lives, the tide changed as cases of domestic violence against women increased — and women started retaliating. By the time Kitty Byron decided to stab Reginald, the odds were definitely in her favor. (It also helped that Reggie-boy was known to have violently assaulted Kitty in the past.) The most interesting part of her story, however, came after the murder. She was sentenced to serve ten years in lieu of execution. After the first six years of her prison sentence, Kitty was moved to a rehab facility for female alcoholics and spent the remaining four years there. When her sentence was at an end, Kitty applied to stay on at Lady Henry Somerset’s Colony for Women Inebriates because she’d fallen in love with one of the nurses. According to our guide, she offered poison to the nurse with the idea that they could both take it and be together forever…in death. O.O The nurse, who was understandably freaked out by this, reported Kitty, whose request to stay was subsequently denied. Kitty then went to live with a female relative and afterwards, fell off the grid. Yowza, amirite?
This tour more than made up for the last one. If you’re in London and looking to learn some interesting facts about the city, I heartily recommend giving one of David’s tours a go. He’s highly knowledgeable and clearly passionate about his subject. After the walking tour, Susan and I took refuge from the cold inside the nearest pub where I had my first experience with potted meat.
In this case, crab. I’d heard of potted meat before, but knew nothing of it. Apparently, before freezers, meats were preserved in jars beneath a solid layer of fat. My potted crab was shielded by a hard layer of butter that tasted a bit citrusy. Wish I’d gotten more bread with it (I was forced to slather the remaining crab on a sandwich I’d bought from Pret earlier). Susan had some tasty looking chicken wings and the best looking chips I’ve ever seen in my life (they tasted pretty good, too).
After saying goodbye, I headed to Islington for Daley’s rescheduled concert. (YAYAYAYAYAY)
His show was So. Good. His voice is even prettier live, plus he covered some R&B/neo soul favorites of mine. Between his performance and his pre-show DJ’s playlist, I basically flipped through memories of my entire life up to this point. I also got to stand right in front of the stage during the show, which has never happened to me before. It was wonderful. Then, this happened:
…which I’m pretty stoked about.
My next bit of excitement will be flat-hunting (!!!) next Monday. My estate agent says she can find me a place to move into by January 31st (which is when I need to be out of my dorm), and she’s been pretty good about intuiting my needs thus far, so I trust her. Still…it’s a bit of a nail-biter, isn’t it?
Wish me luck!