This day in London’s History
1703: Daniel Defoe is ordered to stand for three days in the pillory (a kind of hardcore version of the ‘stocks’) for taking the piss out of the government and the church. Good man.
His satirical pamphlet ‘The Shortest Way With Dissenters’ was judged a little close to the bone. (Unless you’re a fan of ironical observations on non-conformity under the reign of Queen Anne, you probably don't want to know why, but here's an account just in case.) Defoe went on the run, but was soon captured and imprisoned for a short time in Newgate. But you can’t keep a good writer down, and London’s first proto-blogger wrote a ‘Hymn to the Pillory’ while in gaol. It turned out to be a good move. When Defoe later found himself in the pillory at Charing Cross (some sources say Cornhill), the crowd cheered and threw flowers rather than the usual stones and rotting vegetables. Defoe later used his Newgate experiences in the novel Moll Flanders.
London fact of the week
Defoe is best known as the author of Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders, two of the earliest examples of the literary format we now call the novel. But in his day, Defoe was more famous as a pamphleteer and journalist. Crusoe, his first novel, did not appear till he was almost 60.
London person of the week
For the second week running, our accolade is awarded to a simian. Betty the monkey makes a mockery of London Zoo by coming and going as she pleases. Good stuff, though we’ll be much more impressed if the hippos try and emulate.
One thing you must do in London this week
Almost Fruitstock time again. Normally a huge marketing event to raise the profile of a drinks manufacturer would be the last thing we’d plug. But Fruitstock, next Saturday and Sunday, is different. It’s organised by Innocent, the good people behind the popular smoothies. With a music stage, farmers market, ‘flirting area’ and infinite free smoothies to drink, it’s the most chilled event of the summer. Plus, as it’s in Regents Park, you might see an escapee monkey or two.