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Coaches pass, slowing to manoeuvre the next gate, the Holbein Gate, which we also slide through, backs to the wall to let two horsemen pass. As we emerge behind them we find ourselves outside the Banqueting House; looking good in spite of being (rather like the Lloyds Building today) not quite the latest thing in architecture, but radical, even now in 1690.

The Horseguards building approaches on our left; to the right we see the little arch we emerged from into the street a few pages back; no need to go back there. Four hundred yards more take us to the equestrian statue of Charles 1st. A few men hanging around, the odd horse; a bit dull; but why should the past be any more interesting than the present? Ahead of us (where Trafalgar Square will stand in a hundred and fifty years) a random collection of buildings, one a positive lean-to, sidle up the Strand with the entrance to the Royal Mews to the left. We turn into the Strand and walk east. At this point the visual evidence gets thinner; there is a good view up the Strand but it is later; still, what the hell, let's paste it in. But from now on I have to resort to an aerial (and hence slightly fanciful) view circa 1710 which does indeed show the progress of the Strand up to St. Mary le Strand, but in a summary way; the trail becomes clearer again straight up the Strand as far as St. Clements, in effect as far as Temple Bar, and thence to the very foot of the scaffold-clad
giant of a building, temporarily unfinished, awaiting replenished supplies of Portland stone; the new St. Paul's.

My expeditions into pictures in the past has been rewarded by the past sometimes importuning me; there are moments when emerging from the tube or coming out of a shop in 2003 when I get sudden visitation of London past. As I walk the more generous articulations of the modern city I sense a spectral underlay of the tighter more complex network of streets, the dangerous intimacy of alleys and rookeries long demolished. I hear the rumble of wheels and dim cries from the past.

   
 

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