London falling

David Bullard writes on how Covid-19 and the UK govt's inept response has gutted ‘the square mile’


The City of London, as many tourists discover to their surprise, is a completely different entity from London as a city. It refers to what is known as ‘the square mile’ which stretches from Fleet Street in the west to Spitalfields in the east and includes St Paul’s Cathedral, the Bank of England, the Mansion House, the London Stock Exchange, Lloyds of London and the head offices of most of the country’s financial institutions.

On a normal working day around half a million people commute into the city to keep the wheels of capitalism well oiled. The City of London even has a separate police force distinct from the more usual Metropolitan Police and with slight variations in uniform.

While London has a dowdy, boring, shirt-sleeved mayor the City of London has a Lord Mayor, resplendent in ancient robes who hosts a banquet every year at the Mansion House and holds a procession on the second Saturday of November in a horse drawn state coach escorted by members of the various livery companies in traditional dress.

The office of Lord Mayor of London dates back to 1189AD with Dick Whittington perhaps being the most famous incumbent in 1377. The term of office is for one year only although it is possible to serve several terms but not consecutively. Whittington served four terms. The remuneration is nil so the job clearly wouldn’t appeal to our friends in the ANC.

In the 830 odd years of the office of Lord Mayor only two women have ever served and no members of the BAME ‘community’ so there is fertile ground for the ‘wokists’ to start up a new movement to decolonise and empower the office of the Lord Mayor.

One of the many attractions of working in the city were the quaint traditions and the fact that you were surrounded by historic buildings. All sorts of little alleys criss-cross the main streets and generally lead to a tavern which was frequented by someone like Samuel Pepys or was originally a famous coffee house that eventually became a stock exchange.

As late as the 1980’s you would see men in top hats walking around the City of London. This wasn’t some fancy dress parade, it was members of the London Discount Market Association on their traditional morning money walk. The role of the Discount Houses was to act as an intermediary between the central bank and the entire banking sector and to make sure that the books were squared at the end of the business day.

Despite having high tech (for the time) dealing rooms the money walk involved the directors and senior management of the discount houses donning a topper at around 10am and setting off to physically visit the treasurers of the local and foreign banks at a very senior level.

It was felt that more information of a sensitive nature could be gleaned with a one on one conversation. For example, if a particular bank was seeing an unusually high demand for credit from XYZ Ltd it may be that this was a sign of trouble brewing (as indeed it was in the secondary banking crisis of the 1970’s) and it might be wise to limit the amount of exposure to said client.

The top hatted money walkers carried a two way radio to communicate with their dealing rooms and legend has it that one day one of them had just left Midland Bank’s head office where he had taken a deposit for £20 million on overnight call. He radioed this news back to the dealing room saying “I’ve just done Midland, Princes Street for 20 million” but unfortunately the London taxis shared the same wavelength and within minutes there were police cars with sirens blaring on their way to the ‘robbed’ bank.

The top hatted money walk came to an end with Maggie Thatcher’s deregulation of London’s financial markets in 1986 and the London Discount houses ceased to exist as a banking entity not long after. So no more top hatted gents strolling around the city streets.

With COVID now in it’s sixth month and the UK government still behaving like headless chickens it now looks unlikely that the City of London will regain its historic charm in the near future if at all. Many of the old bars and eateries are already boarded up and have no real hope of re-opening.

Places like the George and Vulture and The Jamaica Wine House just off Cornhill would be pumping all through lunch but today they are deserted. Even if half the staff who used to commute into the City came back to the office there still wouldn’t be enough business to sustain all the restaurants, bars and sandwich bars that existed back in February 2020.

On the bright side though, the City of London has re-invented itself many times over its long and often painful history so hopefully it will do so again. And if it doesn’t then there’s a hell of a lot of empty office space to house all those refugees so keen to leave their own countries and settle in the UK.


The ANC must be terribly grateful to Clicks for taking some of the pressure off them last week. There we all were fussing about rampant corruption, load-shedding and ministerial dishonesty when along came the really important issue of dry and dull hair. It was like a gift from the gods for the ANC and the hair issue even eclipsed the DA’s party conference.

It probably wasn’t too smart of Clicks to run an advert which suggested that one race’s hair was superior to another’s, particular as the losing team in this contest represents about 85% of the population. But Clicks removed the offending ad and gave the groveling apology that woke activists so love to hear. So we can all move on then?

Well, apparently not because our government in waiting, the EFF, have decided that it’s not a sincere apology and have declared their intention to close all Clicks stores as punishment for this dreadful insult. At the time of writing Julius Malema had posted this threat on Twitter which they seemed reluctant to remove despite countless complaints.

@Clicks_SA see you tomorrow. Fellow fighters and ground forces; ATTACK

During a time of already rising unemployment one might think that the loss of another 30 000 jobs plus all the knock on effects may be of some concern to the EFF, particularly as most of the victims will not be ‘white privilege land thieves’, but if you’re pulling an annual salary of over R1mln without having to get your hands dirty then why would you care about Clicks’ employees?

Hopefully this storm in a teacup will blow over but we all know how much the thugs in the red berets like to dress up and destroy things so expect a welcoming party when next you go to get your prescription filled. Fortunately Clicks have over 500 pharmacies spread around the country so with any luck the EFF might run out of destructive thugs.