Thursday, January 29, 2009

Poor Old Wapping

So, I've been reading Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart mysteries (and loving them, especially The Shadow in the North.) However, this passage in The Ruby in the Smoke startled me:

Beyond the Tower of London, between St. Katharine’s Docks and Shadwell New Basin, lies the area known as Wapping: a district of docks and warehouses, of crumbling tenements and rat-haunted alleys, of narrow streets where the only doors are at second-floor level, surmounted by crude projecting beams and ropes and pulleys. The blind brick walls at pavement level and the brutal-looking apparatus above give the place the air of some hideous dungeon from a nightmare, while the light, filtered and dulled by the grime in the air, seems to come from a long way off – as if through a high window set with bars.

Oh, dearie me! I lived in Wapping for four months, and apparently I should be glad that the year was 2004 rather than Sally Lockhart's 1872! When I was there, it was the cutest place ever! I could, and did on almost a daily basis, walk to the Tower Bridge. I discovered a few favorite peaceful spots. And I made a point of exploring a new part of London every Wednesday -- packing up my notebook and some food and finding a pretty place to write. I rode double decker buses as often as possible (not only are they big and red and scary if you're sitting in the top front [all excellent qualities], but they're cheaper than the Tube). London, in general, and Wapping, in particular, was (were?), in fact, one (two?) of my favorite places of all the places I've ever lived. (Are six commas too many for one sentence? Was that even a sentence?) Of course, I was dead broke by the time I left (London is expensive), but I don't regret a minute of it.

Anyway. Philip Pullman: you have good brains. And Wapping: sorry to hear about your sordid past. You turned out pretty well, in my humble opinion.

(Speaking of such matters, Graceling has now been released in the U.K. I don't know what this means about immediate availability in libraries and bookstores, but at the very least, it should be showing up soon!)

So -- where have you lived? What was it like? And where do you dream of living?

20 comments:

Sibylle said...
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Sibylle said...

Sorry, deleted my previous comment due to typos, here's the comment :

My favourite of the Lockhart series if The Tiger in the Well - best social commentary and great feminism, I love Sally ! Pullman's a genius.
I've just bought a copy of Graceling (the UK edition) : I ordered it via The Book Depository where it's been available since yesterday but as I don't live in the UK I don't know if it's displayed in bookshops (I hope so!)
To answer your question, I've always lived in Paris but then I'm quite young too :) And I only visited parts of Europe so far (Spain, Portugal and the UK, that's not much !)

alex milway said...

Hello! I saw Graceling in Cardiff at the weekend, but I didn't want to have to carry it home to London, so I shall get it next time I see it here.

It looked excellent - and big (format wise) - which is always nice.

Laura said...

I absolutely ADORE Phillip Pullman and his Sally Lockhart series. Unfortunately, I've never been to Wapping, but did have a friend who was from there and definitely dispelled my notion of it! ;)

beth said...

I lived in England, too, in Russell Square, within walking distance of the Brit Museum. Loved it. It was simply brilliant.

As for Pullman...ugh. Used to like him, till he killed off one of my favorite characters in the Lockhart series...I don't forgive easily...

tinkandalissa said...

I would love to live in Europe. Really badly. (sigh)
I've only lived in Charleston, SC and now Asheville, NC. Not a big move. Asheville's great, don't get me wrong. There is so much to do, especially if you are an outdoorsy person. There's a really disappointing music scene here, though. Winter is a little depressing, but Spring, Summer and Fall certaily make up for that. Charleston is hot and HUMID and miserable during late Spring to early Fall. Winter is dull. I got so sick of the mostly crappy beaches living there (I said, mostly crappy, for those that oppose), that I am not much of a beach person now because of that.
I dream of living somewhere on the West coast. I have a brother in Seattle. It is so nice out there. Tons to do and see. Victoria, Canada is lovely also. But both are much too expensive!

pamcjordan said...

Maryland, Texas, Canada, Brazil and France. And I've worked in many, many cities across the country - fly out Monday morning, fly back Friday night for months on end. An interesting way to experience different places. France is my favorite, but Brazil has by far the best yogurt I've ever tasted.

I've never read Philip Pullman. Have it on the bookshelf though. Maybe after The Graveyard Book, which I love. Reminds me a little of The Hunger Games . Matter-of-fact description of an extraordinary situation.

Victoria said...

Pullman, one of my all time favorites, and the Sally Lockhart series is next on my list for him.

To answer you question I have lived in Florida, always this stupid humid retirment community. I did have a stint as a child in Ohio, and I adored it to pieces. I desperatly miss the snow and cold.

London calls to me like no other place in the world. I have been unexplicably obsessed with it since I was a child becuase of this. So hopefully I will be there one day. I was supposed to be during school, but I decided to forgo my semesters there, so that I could save up money to follow my dream.

I shall be trying Vancouver, BC next. I am extremely excited, and thrilled to get away from the Sunshine state.

Anonymous said...

I lived in Mecklenberg Square, just like Harriet Vane (I didn't find out till after I'd lived there that she did, too, and it certainly made me happy). It was weird, though, having to get the key in order to enter the garden, just to sit on a bench and read a book. Once you did, though, especially if it was an 18th or 19th century novel, you could totally lose yourself in that world, especially when a pair of bobbies went by on their horses so you heard the clip-clopping of hooves in the background, instead of car sounds. I walked EVERYWHERE in London, which saved tube fare and opened up worlds. Wish I'd taken more double-decker buses, though, for the view from on high.

Hey, what's with all the venom towards Florida in the comments? Show it some love, people! Hasn't Kristin enchanted you with her descriptions of water and birds and weather?

a Katsa fan

Prince Balthazar said...

Haven't been to Wapping.

I did read The Ruby in the Smoke which I liked a lot. Also saw a PBS film of it starring Billie Piper from Dr. Who. She's a little old for the part but it was still done well.

I had the good fortune to meet Philip Pullman at a reading here in Chicago. He was great...and he wrote this in my writing notebook when I asked him if he had any words of advice for those days when the Muse is absent.

He wrote: When those moments come remember that it is our job to write just as well and just as regularly when we're not inspired as when we are.

Advice I took to heart.

Anguilla in the British West Indies. Been there a few times. Love it.

Padfootnprongs22 said...

I studied abroad in Auckland, New Zealand for a semester, and I miss how gorgeous nature and city life could be side by side without one dominating the other. There I could for runs that start out in the heart of the city, but then 20, 30 mins later I could be running by a bay.

Sorry, your question quite took me back there for a second!

:)
Frances

NoGrandmother said...

I've lived in Virginia (3 cities), North Carolina (2 cities), New Orleans, Chicago, and Texas (2 cities).

My parents still live in Charlotte, NC, and it's weird to think that I go "up" to there from Houston, and that Charlotte, from here is north.

I dream of living somewhere chilly, damp, and green. Vermont would do, or Seattle, or Scotland.

itdependsontheday said...

I used to live in cali, and i miss it sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much. i visited in nov. and i was so sad that i had to leave. can a person be in love with a place? it seems that when im there, i can't stop smiling (until i leave).
pullman is a genius with a weird sense of humor. also, the last of the golden compass series was much too long for my liking. also, to all people who think he wants to get rid of religion, he wrote the book to express his opinion, not to offend anyone.

"do you believe in god?"-cassie by flyleaf

Hillary! said...

I lived in Eugene, Oregon. I miss is it so much. I miss the rain, I miss autumn, I miss pine cones, I miss mud, I miss not having to lock my doors, I miss a lot of random things. Hopefully I can move back as soon as I am done with school.

kristin cashore said...

You guys have lived in cool places! And Alex -- woo hoo, a Graceling spotting in Cardiff -- whee!

I would LOVE to live where Harriet Vane lived! :o) That it so cool. And I love Asheville, Tink -- have even considered moving there, but it's just too far from my northern roots. (Says the girl who lives in FL)

Seems like we have a lot of cloudy-green-place lovers out there! And Frances, I blogged once about my ideal home, and my friend, YA writer Tui Sutherland, told me that it sounded to her as if New Zealand might be the place for me. (Okay, other than the giraffes, etc....) I hope to visit there someday. Now I just visit in Margaret Mahy books :)

Shaun said...

I lived in Austin TX until I moved to Houston at age 26. It was good for me because I hadn't realized how much my "where" defined me until I left. The odd part is that I'm still homesick,Only Austin's changed so much in the ten years since that I'm now homesick for a time and a place, Just moving back wouldn't help... Dream place to live is Paris. Sorry for typos,new iPhone...

Dianna said...

o.o Everyone has lived in such amazing places. Delaware is so boring. -_- Id love to live in Ireland. Or at least visit. Since Ive heard its chilly. I like warm places.

Congrats on Graceling making it across seas. =] Thats exciting.

JasmineRochelle said...

hey, i said that i'd write a song so here it is.*spoilers!!!*
the songs a bit rusty, but i like it! in honor of gracelings!!!!!

Born to survive-

born with a curse
or was it born with a strength
was she born to survive in this murderous game
graced with the skill
graced to kill
what more is there to life
when this isnt her will
randa is in far over his head
he'd better let her go or else he is dead
oh~ katsa and po
~~~chorus~~~~~
something is wrong here
somethings not right
a king with one eye
no one suspects...
she didnt want this
its not how it should be
now her name is written in history~~~~~
how did she not notice
the love that began
between the two gracelings, this wasnt the plain
bitterblue is hiding
herfather is riding
po's out to stop him
please be ok
po says to leave him
says that he'll only slow down
oh~katsa let go
~~REpeat chorus~~~~
killing the king
she lost her control
to keep po's secret
she let the daggar go
po's lost his vision
but he sees more than before
now for the happy ending
together for more
-jasmine rochelle(if anyone wants to hear it i'll put it on youtube...)

Gwen said...
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Gwen said...

Again, tapping into the ancient posts, but hey, I liked this question. So, first of all, I love Phillip Pullman, but I've only read the His Dark Materials series. Sounds like I'll have to add his Sally Lockhart series to the list.

Places I've lived... Hehehehe... This is quite long, but you did ask for it: Maryland, Arizona, Germany, Northern Virginia, Colorado, Ohio, Spain, Washington DC, Massachusetts, Canada, and now Japan (with repeats on Arizona, Canada and Colorado).

*PS: Sorry for the deleted comment earlier. There were typos that needed fixing.