I’m not the tourist type, I don’t like crowds
or sharing my adventures with a mob,
but this is different. Victoria, our guide,
leads us astray down alleyways,
her black umbrella bobbing up ahead.
Quickly we leave the sun and crowds
of London Bridge behind and slip
into a darker place beneath a railway arch,
black and uneven, dank and dripping.
There’s something here to see, a space,
a wall he might have written on,
but then, before we half expect, like Alice
falling headlong in another world,
we step into another century. Another city.
Poor and fetid, rancid and rat-ridden, urchins
and inn keepers on every side, street hawks
and prostitutes. There’s a woman in threadbare velvet
on my arm, a boy under my feet, a man
leading my boyfriend off into the dark.
And now a street brawl, yells and punches,
a girl getting pushed around, a man in grubby overalls
breathing gin down our necks.
Into the pub. A sing song. A bit rowdy
but what d’you expect. They’re petrified.
These murders, see. Them girls. Those bodies.
Enough to make you faint, or scream, or down your drink
and run away into the dark, dark night.
Another gin. A speech. A song. Where did she go?
She’s gone. Who was that man with hair and eyes so black
he could have stepped straight out of hell,
a grim Tim Burton fantasy if ever there was one.
At last, sated with murder and an age old story,
fingers black with dirt and coal dust,
ears full of old music hall songs
and eyes fresh with a glimpse of another age,
we stumble out, delighted
with our escape, our survival, our luck.
Jack the Ripper's London, by Crow Theatre,
performed in the tunnels underneath London Bridge Station
Various performance dates in 2012: