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and the weary teddy boys, I cannot help regretting the fact that London markets are not
what they were. I miss the quacks, for example - particularly those who sported a plaster
cast of a foot crippled with bunions and the medicine men who displayed testimonials
from the crowned heads of Europe; it was surprising that so many people of royal blood
were so grateful for corn-cures and bottles of diarrhoea mixture. Such a man was Conrad
the Corn King, who had cured thousands of innocent sufferers (as proved by innumer-
able autographed letters). He had stood, so he said, in the London markets for fifty years,
and had cured the corns of unfortunates in all walks of life, even those declared by Har-
ley Street specialists to be without hope. In case such corroboration were not enough, he
offered to give away genuine Swiss watches (jewelled in every hole and guaranteed for
seven years) to those who could prove him wrong. Characters like this and the wheezy
fellow whose hacking cough ceased the moment he swallowed a spoonful of his 'Original
Cough Mixture' seem to have gone for good; perhaps they could not compete with the Na-
tional Health Service, or else they had cured all their customers and so spoiled their own
pitch? London quacks have not entirely disappeared, however; they have merely under-
gone a metamorphosis into more fashionable and expensive forms.
The Angel and The Peacock were the two great coaching inns of Islington. Nothing re-
mains of them now. Here at the Angel is Lyons Corner House, part of which can be seen
in my drawing here . I am sorry it is now closed, for it was a wonderful period piece (1899,
designed by Eedle and Meyers). It has a bulbous cupola, and belongs to the end-of-the-
century Baroque, carried out in terracotta, like those two fantasies, the Hotels Russell and
Imperial in Russell Square. Islington High Street is a narrow passage running from the lav-
atory in the middle of the street and continued into Camden Passage. It is worth a visit. At
the lower end of the street are a few eighteenth-century houses remaining, with canopied
doors. They are now cheap hotels, and one has a garden of the kind mentioned in Padding-
ton, only better. A little waterfall works in the summer time, and there is a rockery and pots
of lilies and various statuettes - a symposium of popular art. The High Street and Camden
Passage have become a minor Chelsea in the last few years. Only a few shops have their
original character, i.e. newsagents, wireless shops, and the like; the antique dealers have
moved in on a large scale and the last of the real junk men has disappeared. Although the
antique shops represent a purely artificial trend, their presence has resulted in the painting-
up of the other shops, giving a more cheerful atmosphere. I often wonder what goes on in
the minds of the Islington women, themselves antique, who pause for a moment in front
of the antique shops, putting down the bags they carry endlessly up and down. I wonder
what they make of the marble busts, greengrocers' tea caddies, and Regency clocks. There
is no evidence: the old girls pick up their burdens and move on.
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