Fiction

Taking Up Picadilly

by Lord Dunsany

GOING DOWN Picadilly one day and nearing Grosvenor Place I saw, if my memory is not at fault, some workmen with their coats off — or so they seemed. They had pickaxes in their hands and wore corduroy trousers and that little leather band below the knee that goes by the astonishing name of “York-to-London.”

They seemed to be working with peculiar vehemence, so that I stopped and asked one what they were doing.

“We are taking up Picadilly,” he said to me.

“But at this time of year?” I said. “Is it usual in June?”

“We are not what we seem,” said he.

“Oh, I see,” I said, “you are doing it for a joke.”

“Well, not exactly that,” he answered me.

“For a bet?” I said.

“Not precisely,” said he.

And then I looked at the bit that they had already picked, and though it was broad daylight over my head it was darkness down there, all full of the southern stars.

“It was noisy and bad and we grew aweary of it,” said he that wore corduroy trousers. “We are not what we appear.”

They were taking up Picadilly altogether.

* * *

Source: Fifty-One Tales

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Anthony Collins
Anthony Collins

Speaking of Piccadilly, the Catholic author Hilaire Belloc once wrote: At the end of Piccadilly is a place Of habitation for the Jewish race. Awaiting their regained Jerusalem, These little huts, they say, suffice for them. Here Rothschild lives, chief of the tribe abhorred Who tried to put to death Our Blessed Lord. But, on the third day, as the Gospel shows, Cheating their machinations, He arose: In whose commemoration, now and then, We persecute these curly-headed men. As Belloc’s biographer A. N. Wilson remarked, you either find it funny or you don’t. I find it funny. Belloc was referring to the Rothschild mansion, the sight of which prompted Thomas Carlyle to remark: “I do not mean that I want King John back again, but if you ask me which… Read more »