London belonged to them

I found Norman Collins' London Belongs to Me thanks to the wonderful Big Green Bookshop and bought it for its opening sentence: 'There may be other cities that are older. But not many. And there may be one across the Atlantic that is larger.' But not much.'  Collins wrote the book towards the end of the second world war and put a magnificent, partisan love into that line.

I also hoped that in its 700 pages there'd be a mention of the Hornsey Road. I spent four years looking for references to the Mongols with lower odds than that. Did you know that Ghenghis Khan turns up in the Canterbury tales?

Anyway, on page 415 Mr Squales goes 'off to a professional engagement. Right over to Finsbury Park [...] where the North London Spiritualist Club held their meetings'.

Mizhenka photograph

Mr Squales is a conman, who has taken up spiritualism having failed at phrenology, palmistry and astrology. At Finsbury Park he takes on the persona of the Red Indian [sic] 'Mocking Bear', 'gruff, throaty and pregnant with vision' and declares that Hitler will die in 1940.

'Twenty minutes later Mr Squales with a two guinea cheque in his pocket was stepping out in the direction of the Seven Sisters Road.'
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