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Tuesday, 16 February 2010

William Abling

Isn't name that you should recognise. He was a watchmaker in the early 19th century in Wynyatt Road in Islington. The area was apparently well known for horologists. I guess a remnant of the old guild system from the middle ages. We'd wandered south from Angel tube after a bit of a wander round central London - Covent Garden to be specific. We were in town for Valentine's Day after flying in to Heathrow the previous evening after our week in Malta. The holiday was a bit of a disappointment actually. You'd think that an island that rich in history would treasure it's heritage but the government seem much more intent on milking the lucrative tourist trade. Don't get me wrong the history is there but it's pretty far down the list on the typical sunseeker's priority list - after sun, cheap booze, english-speaking natives, familiar food and the list goes on...We'd surveyed the Grand Master's Palace in Valletta now the home of the Maltese government and a rather impressive armoury of mediaeval pointyness and spent our few remaining Euros before surveying the mounting insanity of Carnival before rattling out to Sliema to collect our bags and return to the charabang thronged bus station and heading out to the airport. We took the tube into town from Heathrow which is always rather special to me although more so if you do it in the light of for preference as the sun goes down. We made it across town to Stratford where we collapsed for the night. The hotel was maybe not somewhere to spend vast amounts of time but for a night and a night when we were both exhausted it wasnt a problem. It was nice to sit in bed and watch the city come to life - not something that I usually get in my little backwater of a backwater. We tubed it into town clutching our Starbucks, our bank balances checked and headed first for Foyles and then the Radley and Tintin shops in Covent Garden before wandering round the market after discovering the late start for the shops. We spotted a couple of plaques before heading up to Angel for our target the aforementioned William Abling. Theres very little known about the man - a quick websearch brings up the fact that he was known to have lived at the house in Wynyatt Street according to the Clock Museum but they didn't know of the plaque. All very mysterious...actually I rather like that idea - a plaque devoted to someone that noone knows anything about. But thats the thing about a city isnt it - the interactions of millions of individuals and whos to say that William Abling didnt in his own way affect history because isnt that what chaos theory teaches us? That every action affects the world? Maybe at some point we'll return to the subject of John Harrison, chronometers and their affect on the history of the world....

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