LONDONINIUM –  TRANSCRIPTS

In order to make our work as accessible as possible, we have made the decision to make written transcripts of all our audio work available (and to ensure all our video work is captioned). Please CLICK HERE (DOC) and HERE (PDF) for the large print version.

 

 

PROLOGUE: WELCOME TO LONDONINIUM

 

The music that starts and ends each episode is a piano version of The Clash's 'London Calling.'

 

Hi, and welcome to Londoninium. I'm Naomi Westerman, writer and artistic director of Little but Fierce Theatre. Londoninium is an audio series exploring some of London's hidden places and secret stories and was created to accompany a walking tour of London, though of course you can listen to the episodes from anywhere. If you would like to do the walking tour, please head to http://www.lbftheatre.com/londoninium to download our PDF information sheet and map. There are two routes to choose from. The longer route is five miles long, takes in ten locations, and should take about two hours to walk. It starts in Wapping, meanders through the City of London, briefly ducks south of the Thames, goes along to Waterloo and ends in Pal Mall. The shorter route takes in six of the ten stops, all of which are located within the City of London. The shortened route should take in about thirty to forty five minutes.

 

This audio tour has been designed to be a scavenger hunt where you can follow a series of clues to discover each location. This is optional, the bottom of the PDF contains the names and addresses of all the locations as well as a map, but if you would like to play, please listen to the following clue and see if you can figure out the first location. Once you think you've found it, hit play on episode number one 'OARS'. At the end of each episode, the narrator will read out the clue for the next location.

 

“Wapping is old, and this staircase is the oldest. Head to the river. A beautiful memorial garden catches your eye, but keep going west. You'll find the first location hidden between two buildings. At low tide you can walk down onto the foreshore, and enjoy excellent views of Tower Bridge.”

 

Londoninium is presented by Little but Fierce Theatre, as part of Pop Up London. Pop Up London is brought to you by the Battersea Arts Centre and Found in Music, with support from the Mayor of London's Let's Do London Campaign.

 

 

 

 

EPISODE 1 – OARS

 

This episode is performed by a male actor with a London accent.

 

Sound of water: oars moving slowly through waves.

 

[Slow, stentorian. Like a greengrocer selling his wares.]

 

OARS. OARS.

 

Splashing continues.

 

How do you do, ma'am, where can I take you to on this foggy winter afternoon? The South Bank? What's a respectable young lady like yourself doing going to a hive of villainy and disease like that, or [chuckles filthily] shouldn't I ask?

 

Please, come aboard my humble vessel. The day is chill and there's rain in the air, would you care to sit on my frock coat? Yes, it is nice. Since Parliament created the Company of Watermen and Lightermen, humble oarsmen like myself must only ply our trade thus.

 

You heard my yell? Yes, "OARS!" is how we ply our trade. There's them that want to ban it; 'spectable folks sometimes think we're yelling quite a different word that sounds alike, though why gentlemen and women would come to have familiarity with that word is a question they'd rather not be asked.

 

Sound of oars and waves again.

 

What's that in the water? A seal? No, not a seal. Not a fish.

 

Sound of oar hitting flesh.

 

You look like an obliging young lady, d'ya mind if I stop a moment, and see what we can do to help this poor soul in trouble?

 

Sound of oars and water.

 

Nay, he's dead, poor lad. Move yourself, or risk your skirt being splashed as I heave him onboard... well I can hardly leave him afloat, fo the fish to eat him! Look, we're nearly at Southwark. I'll just guide the boat to the bottom of the steps, and you can spring alight. Nay, don't worry about me, I'll handle the boy. Fare thee well in your night's work.

 

Sound of footsteps receding.

 

And what night's work it'll be doesn't bear thinking of. Now to get this lad ashore. The medical men on the south side of the river pay a whole shilling for a corpse, while those cheapskates on the north shore only pay sixpence.

 

 

 

 

Narrator: Clue for the second location. Head west past the Tower of London (perhaps pausing to check out the oldest church in London) and keep going. Exploring the side streets, you notice a white steeple peeking out between the office blocks. Can you find the secret garden?

 

EPISODE TWO: BLITZ

 

This episode is performed by a young female actor with a London accent.

 

Sound of a WWII air raid siren. Then bombs falling in the distance. Then a dead silence.

 

It was spring. I was used to the war by then. I knew why daddy had had to go away, and mummy had had to get a job as a waitress. There were no sweets any more, and some of my friends got sent to the country where it was safer. I told mummy I didn't want to be sent away, and she said if she and my aunts couldn't protect me, no one could. But that night. It was the 10th of May. Mum had gone to visit one of her sisters. The air raid siren went off. I tried to go home, to hide in the Anderson Shelter at the bottom of our garden, but a man grabbed me and told me to get inside now. Everyone was running into the nearest tube station.

 

It was dark down there, and crawling with bodies. Old people trying to nap, young lovers giggling quietly, happy for an excuse to lie in the dark together. Scared children, and crying babies. I know there are rats down here, thousands of them, but they're scared away by all the people. I hoped! After a while it got very quiet. Then the first bomb hit.

 

[Sound of WWII bomb exploding]

 

The walls shook and some dust came down, but we knew we were safe. Two bombs. Three bombs. Then more, but distant. The planes headed west. We stayed down there until morning. When dawn came we went up, slowly. St Paul's was still standing. I didn't know where to go, so I started to walk. I walked past the Monument, the tall golden pillar put up to commemorate the Great Fire of London. I stopped and stared at it, rising over the smoke. I walked past the old Billingsgate Market, where I still think you occasionally get a whiff of fish.

 

I thought I'd go inside the old church. I turned the corner, and oh! What devastation greeted my eyes. It was in ruins. The white walls covered in soot. Rubble everywhere. I don't know why it affected me so badly, but it did. Later I'd discover how many people had died that night; how many buildings destroyed. I walked around the ruins for a bit, numb. Then I saw something. A tiny bit of green among the blackened ruins. I don't know if it was a weed or a flower. Somehow it had survived the bombing. I hope it survived longer. I hope it's still there now. I hope it grew into an entire garden, and nature reclaimed what man's faith created, and what man's evil destroyed. And I hope you find as much comfort there as I did.

 

 

 

Narrator: Clue for the third location. From the garden, walk back down the hill to the main road and turn right. After all that walking, you might fancy a bath!

 

 

EPISODE 3: ROMAN WOMAN MAKES A SPLASH!

 

This episode is performed by a male actor with a London accent, and a female actor with an RP accent.

 

Sound of water splashing, and the low murmur of women chatting.

 

JULIA: Boy! Boy!

 

SLAVE: Yes mistress.

 

JULIA: This water is COLD!

 

SLAVE: Mistress, it's supposed to be cold. It's the frigidarium.

 

JULIA: WHAT!!

 

SLAVE: The frigidarium, mistress. The cold plunge pool. It's good for the blood.

 

JULIA: I don't like it.

 

SLAVE: Please, allow me to usher you into the Tepidarium.

 

JULIA: This is tepid!

 

SLAVE: Would you like to relax here a while, mistress? I can fetch you honeyed wine, or food?

 

JULIA: No no, not before dinner. Who else is here?

 

SLAVE: [in a low voice] No one of any significance, mistress.

 

JULIA: Hmm. Disappointing. I come here to mingle, pick up the latest gossip, and be seen! What's the point of visiting the baths otherwise?

 

SLAVE: I think I saw a senator's wife entering the steam room.

 

SLAVE: Very well. Ooh! This is TOO HOT!

 

SLAVE: It's supposed to be hot, mistress; it's to open the pores.

 

JULIA: Fine. Oil me down!

 

SLAVE: Yes mistress. [pause as he applies oil to her body]

 

JULIA: Is that a new blend? It smells different.

 

SLAVE: Olive oil, imported straight from Puglia, with sandalwood from Egypt, and lavender oil from the fields of France. Do you like it?

 

JULIA: It is tolerable. Oil me more! I am sweaty, and must be clean.

 

SLAVE: Yes mistress.

 

JULIA: That will do. You may scrape me down now.

 

SLAVE: Yes mistress.

 

JULIA: What time are we due at dinner?

 

SLAVE: Seven, mistress.

 

JULIA: Call my personal slaves; I need hair, makeup, manicure. My nails are a frightful state!

 

SLAVE: Yes mistress.

 

JULIA: Ooh! That's Flavia Agrippina, daughter of the General of Britain.

 

SLAVE: The little girl who likes to run everywhere.

 

JULIA: They say she's met the Emperor himself!

 

SLAVE: Praise the Gods.

 

JULIA: My husband will never get a promotion, and be sent back to Rome, unless he befriends the right people.

 

SLAVE: Would you like your clothes, mistress?

 

JULIA: Are you implying there's something wrong with my unadorned body?

 

SLAVE: Of course not, mistress.

 

JULIA: Well, there is. My nails are in a frightful state. I can't possibly greet a girl who has met the Emperor like this.

 

SLAVE: I'll fetch the manicure kit, mistress.

 

JULIA: Not my hands, stupid boy!

 

SLAVE: I'm sorry?

 

JULIA: My feet.

 

SLAVE: [Sounding extremely resigned] Oh. Yes mistress.

 

[Sound of running, followed by a massive splash]

 

Both of them cry out; him a yelp of surprise, her an outraged scream.

 

SLAVE: Are you alright, mistress? The general's daughter seems to have knocked you into the frigidarium.

 

JULIA: GET ME OUT OF HERE!

 

SLAVE: Yes mistress. The water IS cold, isn't it?

 

 

Narrator: Clue for the fourth location. The next location is minutes away. You spot two familiar characters near the bath - a walrus and a carpenter?? You walk past them up a narrow lane until you come to a main road. Thirsty? You might want to look out for a juice bar. But not for a tall glass of OJ - what you seek is outside. Look very, very carefully. Two tiny mischievous creatures are hiding in plain sight.

EPISODE 4 – GOING HUNTING

 

This episode is performed by a male actor with a London accent.

 

 

Water drips. An echoey sound.

 

Heeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee my pretties. Come here. Daddy's got a treat for you. I know you're here.

 

A rustling sound.

 

There you are!

 

Noise as he goes to grab something and misses.

 

Too fast for me, are yeh?

 

I'll get you. Might take me a bit of time, but I'll get you.

 

I've bin doing this since I was a child. Started young. There's not many that's started as young as me, which is why I'm the best. Not to say that I've not had my fair share of... accidents. Injuries. Bites. Yeah some of them bite me. I've been bitten on every part of my body, including parts I can't mention in polite company. But I'm fearless. You have to show them no fear. I don't fear them no, but I do respect them. Like them, even, sometimes. That's why I don't kill all of them. The pretty ones, I keep.

 

Oh! [sound as he makes another grab. A squeal]

 

GOT YOU!

 

He chuckles.

 

I knew I'd catch you in the end. My, aren't you a pretty girl. I'm not going to kill you. You're going in THE CAGE.

 

Name's Jack Black. Queen's Official Ratcatcher. Ahem. Almost official. I started when I was a boy; I'd catch rats in Regent's Park, show off how well I could handle 'em for coin. The rich toffs there were impressed. I'd walk around with a dozen or more rats lined up along my shoulders. I tamed 'em, carried 'em around in my pocket. Soon I was getting work all over London, going into people's homes. I wasn't even ten. I've got the gentle touch and killer instincts. You have to have both. I once had a rat bite me with such tenacity its teeth broke off inside my hand, and I had to remove the fragments with tweezers. A single pair of rats, if left to their own devices, can produce three million offspring in a year. Any decent rat catcher can catch upwards of 8,000 rats a year. And I am much better than decent. I breed black terriers as ratters, my own special breed. I have trained rat-catching ferrets, and a badger named Polly. I even once had a monkey, who wasn't much good; didn't do anything 'cept give the rodents a good shaking. And the rats need dealing with. They eat the crops; spread disease; engage in cannibalism and rampant promiscuity; and steal. I once found one behind the wainscotting of a fine wealthy gentleman's house, in a nest full of silver forks and spoons the little furry gentleman had stole and carried back to his lair. One of my terriers brought his reign of terror to an end.

 

 

Fluffy was the first one I kept. I found her under a statue of Charles II. She was pure white, so I kept her. Trained her up, then sold her to some rich man's daughter. Any of the pretty ones, the sweet natured ones, or the ones with unusual coloured fur, I keep them. And breed 'em. Make nice tame pets. Rats are extremely intelligent, clean, and love being cuddled, believe it or not. Popular pets for young ladies of good breeding. Beatrix Potter bought one from me. Even wrote a book about him. Even Queen Victoria herself bought a couple, that's why I'm the Queen's Official Ratcatcher. Ahem. Nearly. Hmm. Come to think of it, was a couple of years since I last paid her Madge a visit, and these little beasties don't all that long. Maybe it's time I paid her another visit. Get you [squeak] all cleaned up. What d'ya say? How'd you fancy being Princess Fluffy?

 

 

Narrator: The clue for the fifth location. Keep walking west, until you come to the main entrance of a train station named after a medieval weapon. Tucked away between a Starbucks and a monument to finance is something very very old.

 

 

EPISODE 5: SECRETS OF THE ANCIENT CULT

 

This episode is performed by a female actor with an RP accent.

 

Ambient noise. Hissing of incense. Men walking. A heavy oak door SLAMS shut. A brief silence, before Latin chanting is heard.

 

(Quietly, reverently, in an academic tone)

 

The twelve priests gather around the altar, preparing to conduct the first of the seven sacred rituals of initiation. The temple is in almost complete darkness, broken only by the flickering lights from a heaped platter of burning pine cones, releasing their intoxicating incense and sending clouds of scented choking smoke into the claustrophobic space. The assembled men begin to howl, girding their loins for the battle ahead. The giant black bull leers down at them. He is not afraid. What must the nervous initiate be thinking? What drove him to join this strange and secretive cult, and what challenges lie in front of him. And what fate will befall him if he fails.

 

He gulps, as the Head Priest feeds him another glass of red wine, before lowering the blindfold gently over his eyes. It blocks out the smoke. The incense is now overwhelming. The chanting resumes; louder!

 

[More Latin]

 

Evidence suggests the the Ritual of the Raven, or Corax in Ancient Latin, was likely the first initiation ritual. This may have involved consuming the flesh of a just-killed raven. The initiation rituals increase in severity, forcing the desperate young initiate to prove his strength, bravery and courage to receive the highest accolade: Courier of the Sun and Pater... of the Cult of Mithras.

 

Um... [she falters] the second ritual. Hmm. The second ritual. The second ritual was named Nymp..

 

The Cult of Mithras is fascinating from a historical perspective. For an archaeologist like me, who's been studying Ancient Rome all my life, anything unknown is like catnip. And none of the worshippers of Mithras ever wrote anything down! Everything about Mithraism is a mystery: who they were, how the cult started, how it grew till there were Temples of Mithras all over the Roman Empire, from Roman North Africa to Great Britain.

 

But... It was basically a boy's club. No women were allowed. Their sacred rituals involved sitting in a room getting drunk and having feasts. Their initiation rituals involved being blindfolded and made to do humiliating and physically painful things. It's a wonder they didn't have to bend over for a paddling. Maybe they did. [beat] It all sounds like one big frat house to me. The second level within the cult, which may have represented the second initiation level? Was called the Nymphus. That means Male Bride! Maybe the whole cult was just a way for guys all over the world finding an excuse to get out of the house, get drunk, make themselves feel like big men, and... be men together.

 

The whole point of Mithraism is that they worshipped the Bull. The Mithraic creation myth is that the world cracked open and a giant black bull, the living embodiment of evil and darkness, galloped out of the cracks. The great hero Mithras slayed the bull, defeating evil and bringing light into the world, and the bull's body gave birth to all the matter in the universe. The men symbolically re-enact the slaying of the bull to gain the masculine qualities of strength and courage.

 

 

Doesn't sound all that different from the all-boys drinking societies at Cambridge!

 

 

Narrator: The clue for the sixth location. Our tour now takes a brief detour over the river and back (the trail doubles back on itself so this stop can be skipped if you prefer less walking). Cross to the south side of the river and find the oldest theatre you can think of. No, not the famous one. There's another even older theatre hiding in the Globe's shadows. Can you find it?

 

 

EPISODE 6 – CHRISTOPER MARLOWE NEVER DIED

 

 

This episode is performed by a young female actor with a London accent.

 

Sounds of an empty theatre at night.

 

MEG: “But here begins your pity." [Quietly, to herself] Shows the children strangled. "Alas, how have these offended?" [beat] "Other sins only speak; murder shrieks out. The element of water moistens the earth, but blood flies upwards and bedews the heavens." Cover her face; mine eyes dazzle. She died young.

 

GHOST: She died young.

 

MEG: What was that? Huh. "I think not so!"

 

Sound of heavy footsteps.

 

MEG: [Scared] Who's there?

 

Silence.

 

MEG: Guess I imagined it. "Mine eyes dazzle. She died young. She died..." what's my next line?

 

Ghost: I think not so.

 

MEG: Who's there?

 

Deep footsteps, then they stop.

 

MEG: Bob, if this is some crazy director trick, hiding while I rehearse, it's not working!

 

Silence. Then the sound of ghostly laughter.

 

MEG: [Defiantly] “I think not so; her infelicity seem'd to have years too many.”

 

A loud creak, as of someone sitting in a chair.

 

MEG: [Determined to focus on her work] "Other sins only speak; murder shrieks out. The element of water moistens the earth, but blood flies upwards and bedews the heavens."

 

GHOST: Mine eyes dazzle. She died young.

 

Sound effect as Meg runs around the theatre, looking for the mysterious figure. Meg stops, panting.

 

MEG: I'm alone. I've searched everywhere. There's no one in this entire theatre, and the doors are locked.

 

[Creaking noise]

 

MEG: Who are you? Probably the ghost of Christopher Marlowe. He was resident playwright at this theatre, and he was murdered in a bar brawl. Unless he was assassinated for being a spy! Or faked his own death. It makes sense Marlowe would haunt this theatre. [beat] Oh stop being silly, why would Kit Marlowe mess with rehearsals for a play he didn't even write!

 

[Creaking]

 

Oh God maybe this theatre is haunted by Marlow's ghost, and he's angry they're staging someone else's play!

 

[Creaking]

 

Oh go away! I'm not scared of you. I have work to do, so constructive feedback only please. [beat] Shall we try it again? [a longer pause as she gets her bearings] " Alas, how have these offended? Other sins only speak; murder shrieks out."

 

A brief silence, then Meg SCREAMS in terror and pain.

 

 

Narrator: The clue for the seventh location. Return to the north side of the Thames. The most magnificent cathedral in London towers above the City. You might want to enjoy it before exploring some of the hidden gems nestled behind it. A alliterative park with many stories within. Do you want to hear some of them?

 

 

 

 

 

 

EPISODE 7 – NOBLE SACRIFICES

 

This episode is narrated by various readers, both male and female.

 

My name is Solomon. I died when I was 11 years old, in 1901. I lived on Cable Street with my father, a tailor, my mother, and my little brother Samuel. He was only four. One September morning we went to visit my grandmother, and Samuel slipped and fell while crossing the road. I leapt across the road like Spring Heeled Jack and pushed him out of the way of the oncoming carts. But one of them hit me.

 

I'm Mary Rogers. I was a stewardess on the SS Stella, which sank near the Channel Islands on 30th of March 1899. There weren't enough lifeboats. I gave up my place in the lifeboat to a passenger, and my lifebelt to another passenger, and went down with my ship.

 

My name is Herbert Cazaly, and I died in 1889, at the age of 30. I was boating with my brother at Kew when I noticed another boat had capsized, and two young men were struggling in the water. Being a keen swimmer I dived in to assist them, but became trapped, and perished myself.

 

My name is John Clinton. When I was 10 I jumped into the Thames to save a boy who'd fallen from near London Bridge, but I slipped trying to climb out and fell back into the water, and the tide carried me under.

 

My name is Alice Ayres. I was 25 and working as a nursemaid when I died. I was the seventh of ten children. I lived with my sister and brother-in-law in their flat above a paint shop, and took care of their children; six-year-old Henry, five-year-old Edith, four-year-old Ellen, and three-year-old Elizabeth. In April 1885 some of the oil cannisters in the shop exploded, trapping us upstairs. I opened the window and with difficulty squeezed one of the children's feather mattresses out. One by one I fetched the girls, and dropped them safely onto the mattress below. By the last child the smoke was so bad I could barely stand for coughing, and when I tried to jump myself, my body gave out. I saved my nieces but I could not save my sister. I became a national hero, and poems, statues, and later motion pictures were created to honour me.

 

My name is John Cranmer Cambridge. I was 23 when I died, jumping into the to rescue a a woman who was drowning. I kept her alive until the bathing boat came to rescue her, but they had no room for me, and refused to launch the boat a second time.

 

My name was Thomas Simpson and I died at the age of 50. It was the middle of winter 1885 and the ice on Highgate Pond cracked, sending skaters into the freezing water. I jumped through the hole in the ice. Nobody knows how many people I saved, before life gave up on me.

 

My name was Mary Jarman, with a J. I died rescuing my elderly mother from a fire, in 1900. Her bedroom was on fire. Even her bed was on fire. I went back three times to try to save her, before police carried me out. But I failed, and we both died. I am memorialised only as Mrs Yarman, with a Y.

 

I'm William Goodrum. I had a good innings; I was 60 when death came for me. I was working as a signalman on Kingsland Road Bridge in 1880. A gang of men had been ordered to clear the guttering. I was my job to watch for approaching trains and give the warning. The Kew train approached, and warn I did, but one of the men didn't hear me. I shouted, I waved my arms, and finally in desperation jumped down and pushed him out of the way. I was killed instantly. My death went unnoticed and unreported.

 

My name is Ellen Donovan. I died in 1873. I rushed into a burning building because bystanders told me there were children trapped inside. When I got inside, I discovered the house was empty. All the children had already been rescued. So I didn't save anyone, and I received no statues.

 

 

 

Narrator: The clue for the eighth location. Return to St Paul's and keep heading West. Keep your eye out for... cheese?? And what eats cheese? Mice. And what chases mice...? A very old cheese marks the passage. You turn right, and are transported to the alleys of 18th century London. Can you find an animal that eats mice hidden somewhere in these little alleys and squares?

 

 

 

EPISODE 8: AN OYSTER-EATING CAT

 

This episode is performed by a female actor with a London accent.

 

 

[Reading a text out loud] “I never shall forget the indulgence with which he treated Hodge, his cat: for whom he himself used to go out and buy oysters, lest the servants having that trouble should take a dislike to the poor creature. I am, unluckily, one of those who have an antipathy to a cat, so that I am uneasy when in the room with one; and I own, I frequently suffered a good deal from the presence of this same Hodge. I recollect him one day scrambling up Dr. Johnson's breast, apparently with much satisfaction, while my friend smiling and half-whistling, rubbed down his back, and pulled him by the tail; and when I observed he was a fine cat, saying, "Why yes, Sir, he is a very fine cat, a very fine cat indeed."”

 

 

So sayeth Boswell in his famous Life of Johnson, the definitive - according to him - biography of the famed Doctor Samuel Johnson [she clears her throat, and is clearly reading out loud from something]: "poet, essayist, playwright - well anyone can be a playwright - moralist whatever that is, critic HA!, biographer, editor, and lexicographer, meaning person who writes dictionaries. (Christ, life before telly was invented was grim.) And, two hundred and fifty years ago, my boss. Of course Boswell makes no mention of me, the poor beleaguered housemaid who had to shuck all the stinky oysters for the mangy feline! Day after day, emptying his litter tray, clearing up the decapitated rats, hiding the oyster shells at the bottom of the rubbish so Johnson wouldn't be embarrassed being seen with poor people's food. No statue to me. Mind, it is pretty funny. "Arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history," according to the Oxford Dictionary of Biography, and who gets a statue outside his house? His cat! Ha!

 

 

Sound of cat meowing.

 

 

 

Narrator: The clue for the ninth location. The next location is a bridge. But you're not walking over it. The bridge isn't secret, but its history used to be.

 

 

 

 

 

EPISODE 9 - LADIES BRIDGE

 

This episode is performed by a female actor with a London accent.

 

Sound of construction work. Then the sound of a woman whistling.

 

This bridge was built by women. Don't let the politicians and the history books lie to you. The Ladies' Bridge they called it. Work started in 1939. I was 21 and my husband Frank had gone off to fight in France. As the oldest of six daughters, I had to earn a living even before Bevin decided all women under the age of 40 had to register for work. Of course they called it 'Green Labour.' They didn't like to call it female labour.

 

I'd always liked tinkering with engines - my dad was a mechanic in the Great War. So I signed up to learn how to be an engineer. Thousands of women did. 25,000 of us by 1944. I used to get up every morning, dress in my overalls, tuck my hair under my dad's old flat cap, and pick up my tools. The stonemasons were women. The welders were women. The laborours were women. One woman, Beryl, she even had a degree in aeronautical engineering from Cambridge University, and she told me once she was only the tenth woman in Britain to have studied it! And Lady Britannia smiling down on us. There were hundreds of us girls working on the thing, and [in a gleeful laughing tone of voice] only 50 men! A man might have designed it, but Waterloo Bridge was built by the hands of women like myself. Three of my sisters followed my lead; Daisy worked on the bridge too, as a stonemason; Edie went to work in a munitions factory; and Lou built navigation systems for ships. Cecily had a young daughter so she got a job as a waitress in a Lyons Corner House, and we'd all meet there for tea and scones. The looks we used to get! But of course, there were hardly any men around, so we could do what we liked.

 

Waterloo Bridge was considered to be of military strategic importance, so information about its rebuilding was officially a secret, not that it stopped the Germans. Sometimes we'd hear the air raid siren and have to run for cover. In 1941 it was bombed, the only bridge in London to be bombed in the war. It was early May, the height of the Blitz. We'd been so worried about Cecily's daughter, we didn't think about ourselves. But none of us were killed. We picked up our tools and started to repair the damage.

 

Frank came home after he was invalidated out, and he didn't mind me working - lots of the girls, their husbands didn't like it. Daisy's husband ordered her to stop, so she divorced him! Then Len came home. I didn't know his name until then. He was the man whose job I'd "stolen", the man who'd done my job before me. And he wanted it back. They managed to find a new job for me, painting. I left at the end of the war, and started up my own construction company. In 1944, the were three times more women working in construction than there are now, isn't that shocking?

 

Of course, maybe if our accomplishments had been better known, we'd have been able to inspire more girls. Officially a secret, see. Of strategic importance. That's how they justified the censorship. For decades there was no record of women's involvement in building Waterloo Bridge, and our story was only kept alive by the Watermen, who'd watched us, cheered us on, sometimes jeered us, then told our stories to their passengers, and passed them. People thought it was an urban legend, that Waterloo Bridge had been built by women. Then two years ago my granddaughter phoned me. Said something had happened. A lady historian had found some records. Found proof the legend was true. Well, I could have told her that! She found other women, the girls who'd worked alongside me all those years ago, and she interviewed us. Made a documentary about us. Now everyone knows the truth. And Waterloo Bridge has become known as Ladies Bridge once again.

 

 

Narrator: The clue for the tenth location. Our final location is in Pall Mall, some distance away. The 15-20 minute walk takes you down Embankment and through Trafalgar Square. Pall Mall is crowded with fine buildings, but this might be one of the finest. The gold statue above the pillars certainly think so!

 

 

EPISODE 10 – HIPPO MAN

 

 

This episode is performed by a male actor and a female actor, both with upper class London accents. The characters are Frank Buckland and his wife Hannah Papps.

 

 

Sound of noisy eating

 

FRANK: I say Hannah my darling, this is frightfully good. What is it?

HANNAH: Roast rhinoceros with a dormice sauce, sweetheart.

FRANK: Splendid.

[A thumping noise]

HANNAH: I asked Cook to test some new recipes for the annual Society dinner.

FRANK: We'll need something special to top last year's entire barbecued elephant head.

HANNAH: Do you think, Frank? The parrots they served as a starter were awfully disappointing, and as for the grilled sea slugs!

FRANK: Ha! That reminds me of the time I was travelling around Germany/

HANNAH: When the other passengers made you get off the train, because the tree frogs in your pocket were making such a terrible racket?

FRANK: No! I stood firm when they complained about the tree frogs. I told the conductor I was willing to buy a ticket for each and every one of them - he said it wasn't necessary, only the monkey needed one - so the passengers had no grounds to object. T'was only when I awoke from a nap to discover that Nigel/

HANNAH: /Your Limax Maximus slug?/

FRANK: /had escaped from my briefcase and was making his way across the shiny bald pate of a fellow snoozing passenger that I began to consider that discretion is the better part of valour and hoofed it off the train, bag and baggage and tree frogs.

[thumping noise again]

FRANK: What's that noise?

HANNAH: The mongoose is trapped inside your boot again, dear.

FRANK: Oh, help him loose, will you? Talking of hooves, have you seen the latest annual reports?

HANNAH: Yes, they're under the eagle.

FRANK: Move Polly, I need those.

[eagle squawk]

HANNAH: Good job they weren't under the hippo.

FRANK: Where is the hippo? I haven't seen her today.

HANNAH: The new parlourmaid was perturbed, so I sent her out into the garden.

FRANK: The parlourmaid, or the hippo?

HANNAH: Both! [she laughs]

[He rustles some papers.]

FRANK: Ahem, the annual report of the Founded the Society for the Acclimatisation of Animals in the United Kingdom, 1861. Triple goal, to introduce new species into the UK; to fight for greater animal welfare; and to broaden the palates of the meat-eating Britisher. Our actions to lobby Parliament to introduce guidelines for the welfare of animals in abattoirs has met with some success; our attempts to lobby for a ban on hunting sadly have not.

HANNAH: What kind of monster kills an innocent animal just for sport.

FRANK: One day we'll outlaw this barbaric practice.

HANNAH: Yes.

FRANK: My decision to introduce the America Grey Squirrel into the UK has been an untrammelled success, and so far the grey squirrels seem to be coexisting with their native reds perfectly well. [beat] Our attempt to encourage British housewives to start serving healthy free range beef-alternatives such as kangaroo and giraffe has so far not met with any success, though lovely Florence was very enthusiastic at our last dinner party.

HANNAH: Do you remember how excited Miss Nightingale was to meet Tig?

FRANK: Why wouldn't she, Tiglath-Pileser is the very finest brown bear in London.

HANNAH: The only brown bear in London, dear.

FRANK: And thus the finest.

HANNAH: And certainly the best dressed. It's amazing he and the hippo never fight.

FRANK: I think the rats keep them in order.

HANNAH: How many are we up to, now?

FRANK: Around two thousand? It's hard to keep count.

HANNAH: I think we made the right decision to just give them the basement.

FRANK: I could never bear to see a rat killed.

HANNAH: Such intelligent animals, and so clean.

FRANK: And so handy for cleaning up the corpses! Oh that reminds me, I bumped into Wordsworth at the Athenian Club.

HANNAH: How's he?

FRANK: Very well. Still drilling generation after generation on their Latin datives and vocatives.

HANNAH: I think he gave up on you, you were never interested in anything except natural history.

FRANK: Quite right. When I stripped naked and jumped into a run of spawning salmon, the best to understand their swimming patterns, people thought I was crazy!

HANNAH: And look at you now: Frank Buckland, Her Majesty's Inspector of Fisheries.

FRANK: Mm, I'm off to visit the new fish ladder I installed in the Thames later, now no salmon will have to fear becoming trapped in the weir!

HANNAH: No salmon left behind!

FRANK: Anyway old Wordsworth said some of the new boarders are adopting and training Teddy's descendants.

HANNAH: The white rat you had at school?

FRANK: Yes; who I decided would be far happier living as a free rat, than continuing to live in my pocket. Apparently he bred, and his descendants still live in Bramston's to this day, thirty years later.

HANNAH: Your old school house, how lovely.

FRANK: Yes, so nice to leave a lasting impact on impressionable young minds.

A sound of rustling and squeaking.

HANNAH: Oh dear, something must have lost a fight.

FRANK: Still, the downstairs rats are having a nice feast.

[long pause]

HANNAH: Another serving, dear?

[Sound of people eating resumes, followed by the sound of something extremely LARGE eating]