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WALKING FORWARD INTO THE PAST

BY ALISON BARTLETT


The three sections of this book are all inspired by the Victorian era and facets of society at the time. I used the popular songs of the period as inspiration, walking the streets and investigating related locations by day and night. The first section draws from the notorious story of the serial killer Jack The Ripper, whose influence still haunts the streets of the East End. The song ‘Ring the Bells Softly’, reflecting Victorian’s fascination with death, adds a suitably somber tone. Secondly, I looked at the Saloons and Dining Rooms of London, many of which still feature the beautiful untouched details of Victorian times. The song ‘She Was Poor But She Was Honest’ relates to the poverty so rife at that time, as the people laughed in the face of their troubles. Lastly, in Wiltons Music Hall I was able to view, decaying but still standing, the oldest surviving example in the world of these places of entertainment. George Leybourne, who performed on that very stage, sang his most famous character song ‘Champagne Charlie’ as an advertisement for Moet & Chandon. Photographs by Alison Bartlett Sheet music and lyrics from The Illustrated Victorian Songbook compiled and presented by Aline Waiters & Robin Hunter.


Jack the Ripper


A cold, wintery night.


“Ring the Bells Softly�

Some one

has

gone

from this

strange world of

ours,

On East End streets never encountered before, with a feeling of uncertainty for a story about to be told...


Cold to the bone,

No

more

to

ga _ ther

Its

thorns with

its

flowers,


walking in silence to the start of the barbaric, unsolved truth.

No more

to

lin - ger,

where

sun - beams must

fade,


Cobbled alleyways lit by lantern lights, once gas-lit in the Victorian era,


giving you and me the sense of the shadowy lives of that historic time

Where, on

all

beau _ ty,

death’s

fin - gers

are

laid,


Wea _ ry

with

min _ gling

life’s

bit

ter

and

sweet,

Street names and structures may now have altered, but the grim facts of what went on in the streets we walk today circles around in your mind; people sheltering away from the streets at night,


but only if they were lucky enough to find a shilling or two. Those who didn’t, even before Jack, faced death in the cold or by other cruel means.


Wea _ ry with

part _ ing and

ne _ ver

to

meet,

For me a sense of history’s truth was felt in those unknown streets and alleyways that night.


How much society has developed since that era.


How shocking the social situation.

Some

one

has

gone

to

the

bright

gol _ den

shore!


Things today appear better and more civilized,

Ring the

bell

soft _ ly,

there’s

crape

on

the

door.


Ring the

at least on the surface.

bell

soft _ ly,

there’s

crape

on

the

door.


Saloons and dining rooms


Around vast London,


on busy and quiet streets, down alleyways, are the pubs that speak of the Victorian era.

“She Was Poor But She Was Honest”

She was

poor, but she was

ho - nest,


Vic

-

tim

of

Their elaborate interiors are still there, if you look carefully.

the

squi

-

re’s

game.


relishing the possibility of the untouched, but many have been modernised.

First

he

loved

her,

then

he

left

her,


Dimly-lit saloons and dining rooms transport you back in time,


a shadow of feeling of the people who once drank within these walls and their society.

And

she

lost

her

ho

-

nest

name.


Intricate, lavish detail can be seen on the etched mirrors, walls and pillars and floors and staircases, a craftsmanship and style which hosted customers of all classes.


It’s

the

same

the

whole world

o - ver,


A society divided by wealth; poverty and education.

its’

the

poor

what gets

the

blame.


Women and men divided and unequal.

It’s

the

rich

what

gets

the

plea - sure


Ain’t

it

all

a

bleed - in

Women who sold themselves out of necessity, to the loud men who otherwise

shame?


stood apart from them, or sang from stages of their troubled lives.

Shame.

Ain’t

it

all

a

bleed - in

shame?


Wiltons Music Hall


An 18th century faรงade,


“Champagne Charlie”

I’ve seen

a

deal

of

gai _ e _ ty through _ out my

noi _ sy

life

decaying amongst modern buildings.


Now a heritage site, a survivor.


Not yet taking the last curtain call.

With all my

grand ac _ _ com _ plish_ments I

ne’er could get a

wife


Peering through windows – where Victorian society would once have stood,


The thing I

most

ex _ _ cel

in

wining and dining and womanising and singing.

is

the

P.

R.

F.

G,

game,


Stripped-back walls, damp mustiness.

A noise all night in

bed

all day, and

swim _ ming in Cham _ pagne.


The stale smell of History.

For

Champagne Charlie

is

my

name......


Champagne Charlie

is

my

name......

Good for a _ ny

Looking up to the peeling ceiling.


game at night, my boys,

Imagining the sound of music hall songs, laughter and tears bouncing off the old walls.

good for a _ ny

game at

night,

my

boys,


Lost inhibition, inside a faded shell


cast-iron spiralling columns, banisters and walls once bright with colour.

Champagne Charlie

is

my

name......


Champagne Charlie

is

my

Stories lost, stories remembered, stories to tell.

name......

Good for a _ ny


game at

night, boys, who’ll come and

join

me

in

a

spree.


I would like to thank Mike Nicholson and fellow peers who have helped shape this book into its final form. London pubs: The The The The

Salisbury, St Martins Lane Tottenham, Oxford Street Argyll Arms, Argyll Street Princess Louise, High Holborn.


Walking Forward into the Past  

Handmade book, personal experience

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