The Most Filthy Of The Squalid

In an 1845 issue of The Mysteries Of London, G W M Reynolds provided a useful list of the sorts of items available from unregulated street-stalls in the districts of Spitalfields and Bethnal Green, “entire streets that are nought but sinks of misery and vice – dark courts, foetid with puddles of black slimy water – alleys, blocked up with heaps of filth, and nauseating with unwholesome odours… abodes of sorrow, vice, and destitution… vile streets, inhabited by the very lowest of the low, the most filthy of the squalid, and the most profligate of the immoral”.

Had you been among the most filthy of the squalid, you could have taken your pick from stalls selling “fish, fresh and fried, oysters, sweet-stuff, vegetables, fruit, cheap publications, sop-in-the-pan, shrimps and periwinkles, hair-combs, baked potatoes, liver and lights, curds and whey, sheep’s heads, haddocks and red-herrings”.

I for one would be only too pleased to see sop-in-the-pan on sale in our major supermarkets, even if it were pre-packaged under their own brand.

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