Scenes from City life

Near the Bank of England yesterday. Flickr version here.

I love the City of London. My first job was in a company which was based between the Bank of England and the Stock Exchange, and once — for a bet — I managed to wangle my way onto the Exchange’s trading floor. My office window looked out on the side-entrance to the Bank and ever so often there would be a line of black limousines outside indicating that the Bank’s Court was in session. Later, when the Observer was based in Queen Victoria Street I used to get the train to Liverpool Street and walk down Old Broad Street, Threadneedle Street and Cheapside to St Paul’s, where I often popped in for a quiet moment before plunging into the maelstrom of the newspaper.

Yesterday I found myself at Liverpool Street and decided to walk my old route. Last time I was here was 14 months ago. The atmosphere is very different now. Much more subdued. Many of those expensive boutique shops which cater to the whims of investment bankers have ‘Sale’ and ‘3 for 2’ signs, though the cigar shop opposite the Bank is still in business, still displaying “the biggest cigar in the world” in its window.

Last time I was here it was Christmas and it was impossible, literally impossible, to get a taxi. But yesterday the vast majority of cabs had their ‘For Hire’ signs illuminated.