Here in the East End of London we’re currently enduring the wettest drought I can remember! It doesn’t seem a month ago that we were basking in tropical temperatures, the tube was sweltering hot and London looked like London looks when the sun is out…brilliant.
But then Thames Water had to go and spoil it all by declaring a hose-pipe ban to combat the drought. And wouldn’t you know it.. it hasn’t stopped raining since!
We’re being subject to four seasons in an hour, or even four seasons in a minute.
The other day I was leading a Jack the Ripper Tour from Aldgate East Underground Station. As a began the introduction the sun came out and Whitechapel High Street positively sparkled. But in the distance we could see the dark menace of heavy cloud drifting ominously towards us. Sure enough, no sooner had we crossed Whitechapel High Street and stepped into Gunthorpe Street than there was a huge crash of thunder and the skies just opened. Hail, rain, it just lashed down.
But then I noticed something quite amazing. Or at least something quite amazing was demonstrated to me. A member of the group began snapping photographs of the cobblestones and of the brickwork of the buildings along Gunthorpe Street. She pointed out that the cobblestones and the red brick of the buildings took on a really atmospheric look in the rain.
This was one of those pause for though revelatory moments.All the other people on the Jack the Ripper Walk paused and began looking at the cobblestones and the brick work and they really did look spookily atmospheric.
For the whole of the rest of the tour we began really noticing the surroundings and its amazing just how different the East End streets are looking during this current rainy season that we here in London are enduring. The rain is adding to rather than detracting from the atmosphere of our Jack the Ripper Walks, and those who join us are getting a unique perspective of the streets of Spitalfields and Whitechapel.
And, if nothing else, the current inclement weather has – as this latest news update aptly demonstrates – given us a great conversational point. For, if there’s one thing the English love to talk about – other than the identity of Jack the Ripper – it’s the weather!