“. . . and broke my heart and left me so alone ! It was so beautiful and all is gone !”
And nothing is wrong with these words and still – no—it’s probably this voice of this blowsy woman, thin and haggard, yet bloated and blown up, swollen in the middle like a drowned cat floating down a muddy river toward a dark ditch. She stands in clothes too old and worn to be sold, on bony feet : high shoes, that are only holes and heels and torn laces. Here she stands in the street, on the cold pavement, and sings without ever stopping, accompanied by her husband with a piano on wheels, or whatever you may call this shamelessly naked , mauled contraption which gives out dead sounds without any vibration, though the man stamps on the pedals. He has only eight stumps of fingers, a fact explained by the death-sentence of a perfectly good existence chalked on the back of the instrument : “Ex-soldier, out of work. Wife and five children.”
“. . . and all is gone !” Why does nobody stop to give them a penny ? They would move on then and disappear down another dark, short street off the Square. There seem to be hundreds of little streets in this part of London : Soho. But, of course, everyone is busy, as it is Thursday, market day . . . . Push-carts and burning oil lamps and sizzling, whistling acetylene lights. A butcher’s shop : “J. Bellometti, Charcuterie.” Over there, in the background.
Dangling electric bulbs glaring over duck, pheasants – feathery goods ; and hunks of meat dripping blood from rusty iron hooks. Kidneys, tripe, liver. Split waxen bodies of sheep. Decapitated bulls. Frozen. And huge signs : “Scotch Beef. Buy British. New Zealand Mutton.”
In the foreground, right here, baskets of brussels sprouts and turnips and huge round cabbages, and small fingery parsnips, parsley and onions, not only in baskets, but squashed on the pavement. And shoes and ribbons and buttons sewn on cards and stockings in bundles and woolen socks . . . . And here again fishes : cold, slimy, dripping fish with dead, glazed eyes. Big, open-mouthed cod, and bundles of snaky eels, and glittering bodies of little herrings. Cut chunks of smoked salmon, four shillings and sixpence a pound. And all this is cooked, fried, boiled or stewed, and eaten, and liked.
In between walking, tramping, sneaking, waddling women and children. And stocky-looking men in shirt sleeves : muscles and sweat, and dangerously-fat bull necks. There are hundreds of people, and a thousand voices. Arguing, fighting, quarelling. Yet everything is subdued and almost ghostly, for cold, darkness, night, and thick November fog drowns the whole picture. A market in Soho . . . .
Chapter 1: G. S. Marlowe, I Am Your Brother. London, Collins, 1935.
Please see also Here.