East Enders

The sweat of generations envelops me as I roll through the city
Butcher, painter, cook, cleaner, sailor, tobacco worker
All working to eat
And eating to work.

Their voices echo in the streets
Come Georges and Josephs
Come Mary Ann, Eliza
Alice, Rebecca and Ann
Tell me your stories
As you struggled through Stepney and Spitalfields
Through wartime and peace
Enlightenment and revolution
Exploration and industrialisation.

Not fighters or leaders
Not writers or artists
Not scientists or politicians
Just hard, hard workers
Skilled at their labour
Working to eat
And eating to work
Their children and grandchildren joined by migrants
But continuing to serve others
And hard work still the standard that they lived by.

The wealth of generations surrounds me as I roll through the city
Banker, builder, merchant, lawyer, factory owner, slave trafficker
So near now
Y
et as distant as ever.

© Ju Gosling aka ju90


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