Thursday, May 25, 2017

Piccadilly, Soho, and dairy overload

On Tuesday morning we took a walking tour around the Piccadilly and Soho areas of London to trace the steps of John Snow. Contrary to Jon Snow, who knows nothing, John Snow is an important figure in medical history as one of the fathers of modern epidemiology by determining the source of a cholera outbreak in Soho in 1854, as well as one of the first doctors to use anesthesia, even administering chloroform to Queen Victoria for the birth of her last two children. In one of her diaries she wrote, "Dr. Snow administered 'that blessed chloroform,' and the effect was soothing, quieting and delightful beyond measure."

In September 1854, an outbreak of cholera began to ravage the Soho neighborhood, but at the time most people believed that the disease was caused by miasma, bad air. John Snow was skeptical of this theory and talked to local residents to find commonalities between people affected by the outbreak, determining that the likely source was a water pump on Broad Street. He convinced local officials to remove the handle on the pump, so no one could access the water from it, and the outbreak subsided. Although he observed that the outbreak was already in decline and could have possibly ended on its own, he continued to research the outbreak and this is considered the start of epidemiology.

On our tour we visited St. James' Church, where he first shared his theory to convince officials to remove the pump handle. This church was consecrated in 1684 and is alluded to frequently in literature. Poet William Blake was baptized here, and it is the final resting place of famed anatomist John Hunter (remember my post about the Hunterian Museum from last week?).

The church was devastated in 1940 by German bombings, but it has since been rebuilt. Here is some of the damage.
 From the church we walked around the neighborhoods, seeing where other famous residents lived, including Isaac Newton, Mozart (for a few years in childhood), and John Baird (who first demonstrated television). We walked by William Hunter's anatomy school (brother of John Hunter), next to the famed Windmill Theatre which shows off...a different kind of anatomy. This theatre prided itself on never closes even during the height of the Blitz, because it was good for the moral of the soldiers.

At one point, actor Bill Nighy walked past our group but I was too slow with the realization to get the camera out. But it was the talk of the group for the next several minutes. We ended the tour at the John Snow Pub, which is next to the site of the original Broad Street pump. Unfortunately, the replica that was across the street was removed recently when a new building was constructed.

Soho is an interesting area of London, known for its bars, clubs, restaurants, and some seediness in the 60s-80s for the sex industry. Although it has been very gentrified and is a desirable place to live nowadays, you can still see some remnants of that part of its past around.
"This is not a brothel. There are no prostitutes at this address."
One thing that I enjoyed on the walk was spotting a variety of pieces by famed street artist Invader.  Some of the students noticed me taking a photo of the first one and then got involved even spotting some before me.

After the walk, we had lunch then headed over to the Wellcome Collection where we saw medical equipment throughout the ages, more mummified bodies (this time from South America), big pieces of tattooed skin collected by a French doctor, and an exhibit about electricity.

"Palindrome" - exploring how the same structures have adapted differently for different purposes in different animals
 They had an amusing photobooth that will read your psychic transparencies.
S.P.I.R.I.T. booth - Supernatural Psychic Intervention Radical Imaging Tool

Incredible reading room

Old dental equipment
 After the museum I crossed over to Euston station to catch the Tube toward home. Many of the trees in front have knitted cozies around them. Unfortunately many of them are going to be cut and moved elsewhere soon.

 For dinner I stopped at Camden Town to go to The Cheese Bar in the Stables Market. I had heard they had great grilled cheese. I couldn't decide on just one thing because it all sounded so good. 

And as if that wasn't enough dairy for me, I went across the aisle to the Cereal Killer Cafe for dessert. Here you can order bowls of cereals from all over the world, but most of them us Americans would recognize. When I was a student living here, my friends would request Lucky Charms when I would return from visits home since it existed here when they were children but disappeared from supermarkets at some point. 
Retro themed with VHS tapes comprising the front sign
Pick your poison
 Apart from bowls of cereal, they make incredible hot chocolates and milk shakes. After downing this one, I forced myself to walk home instead of hopping on the Tube.
 More Camden street art from my walk home.

 When I arrived home I saw that I had a message from my friend Cat, who recently moved back to London with her partner Tom. Cat started and runs the craft tutorial website Cut Out + Keep, which you should check out if you love crafts, DIY, baking, homemade cosmetics, etc.

We both were in cat shirts! =^.^=
We met at the Hawley Arms, where you can also order cups of sweets so we snacked on some chocolate with our Pimm's cups. After a drink there they accompanied me to Kentish Town and I showed them Ladies & Gents. Cat is much better at photography than me, so check out her photos of our evening here and here.

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