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Dazed and confused

Sometimes London can leave me feeling slightly bemused, it is a city of contradictions, double meanings and inconsistency, but I always think that I’m in a much better position to understand these than those who don’t know the capital just as well.

A long time ago I posted a piece called name theory on mispronunciation and how certain London place names can catch the unwary out. The reason I reflect back on this is due to a recent conversation I had with acquaintances who live and works in the city although they have only recently moved to the south East.


Bow Church, St Mary’s

We were discussing the dwindling number of Pie & Mash emporia, only a few proper shops are left in London. They were enthusing about one outlet in Roman Road, Bow in east London that they had visited earlier in the week when they said, “We heard the bells of the church ringing just like in the nursery rhyme, Oranges and Lemons“. If you’re not aware of it the line is, “I do not know, said the great bell of Bow“. They went on to jokingly ask if hearing it made them Cockneys? I smiled and said that technically you had to be born within the sound of Bow Bells, but unfortunately you’ve got the wrong Bells. They looked a little confused, “no, it’s Bow bells, the bells of the church in Bow, isn’t it, is there more than one church then?

This is where those contradictions come into play, on the face of it they must be correct. Bow is in the East End of London, you associate Cockneys with the East End, it has a church called Bow Church and it has bells. “Ahhh no“, says the City, you need the church of St Mary le Bow located in Cheapside some four miles away.

St Mary le Bow, Cheapside

It can be an infuriating city at times.

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