26 Shining Light: Jo Lilford – Pigeon Post, 1987

A light response to Alec Forshaw’s wonderful book, ‘1980s London, Making the Best of It’

Waheeeeeey, I’ve caught meself on a little thermal and it feels laaaahvely. Breeze up here’s a bit stiff but the sun’s out and it’s giving the old wings a nice warm tickle. Today I’m on pleasure – not business – just checking my patch. Mind you, from up here, it’s been a bit of a pickle, lately. 

Ah, we’re coming up to a nice bit. My favourite windowsill’s down here, Great Ormond St, number 49. I’m here most days. Right opposite the hospital entrance, lots of comings and goings. I’m heading there for a perch, you fancy it? Three storeys up, smashing views. Once, I was sat here and a bloody great giraffe came out of the back yard. No, don’t be daft, of course not by himself, that’d be silly. But some bloke led him off to Kings Cross, circus train, see. 

Anyhow, chap in here plays lovely music on a big brown pipe thing. Or sometimes has the telly on. Not much going on today, mind. No music. Ah, it’s the news. Lovely veneer on that tellybox, amazing what they can do with plastic these days, looks just like real wood. Some woman on. Seen her before, she’s in charge of something. Blonde, head-mistressy type with a voice you don’t forget: deepish, vibrato, sends a shiver down my spine. Tell you what, I wouldn’t cross her. Off she goes…

Now, they could not have done it unless they had worked hard for a higher salary and, yes, for money. There is nothing wrong with doing that. That is the great driving engine, the driving force of life. There is nothing wrong with having a lot more money…’

Now in my opinion, there’s your problem, right there. 

People fixated on the dosh instead of helping one another out. I don’t know what the world’s coming to, quite honestly. You’ve only got to look around to see that there’s quite a bit to sort out. The rage at her and her type. 

From up here I’ve seen people so mad they’ve lobbed bricks through shop windows and at the police; mad about bigotry, protecting their jobs, their private lives, their homes. Turfed out of their places in perfectly nice streets, homes razed to the ground to build these glassy new palaces with lots of offices, like little roosting boxes inside. And crikey, you should see them, going into those places. Shoulder pads flanking their faces like giant, flightless birds. Soft, whipped-up golden hair I’d love to nest in. Shiny trouser suits. Buttons gleaming like suns and massive black bricks they walk about talking into. I don’t know what’s come over people. Those Socialist Worker types call it the ‘detritus of greed’ in them leaflets they hand out. All about the money. False gods, innit?

Still. There’s a geezer down there with a bacon roll that’s very interesting. I’m off. Catch you later.

Jo Lilford

> Find out more about Alec Forshaw’s talk on his book 1980’s London

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