51°30’35”N 0°7’5”W

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Coming home

Adam Scott and Dave Waddell
3:12:39 6 May 2024
51°29′55″N 0°04′33″W 


In my grandfather’s time, the air either stank of the tanneries or of the sweetness of vanilla and today it is still rich with that sensory discord. I walk the same way I walked as a child, under the viaduct, past the arches, and along streets that once taught Dickens how to write about suffering and escape. I pass a scooter dealership and a bakery and a tap room and duck through a doorway by a bin store, skirt the estate, and head down Ropewalk. By the time I reach the pub, the sun has burnt away the morning fog. Except for an old man serving at the bar, it’s empty. He looks me up and down. You’re Tony’s boy, Ernest’s grandson, he says. And just like that, I’m home.


As is the way with all great strategic walls, the viaducts of Bermondsey in London have given rise to their own special world of paths, people, and places. You may leave, but it’s always home, and you can’t help but come back, especially on May Day, when London begins to shake the winter out of its bones.


Image credit: Maltby Street Market


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