Pea Soup & Coats

1906 – John Betjeman (who became Poet Laureate in 1972) was born, an earthquake of 7.8 hit San Francisco, Paul Cezanne (French Post-Impressionist painter) died and the liberals won a landslide victory in the governmental elections in Britain.

Edward VII summons the new cabinet ministers to meet with him at Buckingham Palace, but the London Fog had settled over the city. The fog, it was believed was due to the poor drainage in the city and on the surrounding farms, stagnant pools of water, open ditches and the marshes along the Thames.

The fog was so thick shops in Bond Street had to have their lights on at midday and Thomas Miller referred to it as ‘dilution of yellow peas-pudding’.

After being summons to see the king the cabinet ministers could not find their way to the Palace in the fog and had to feel their way past rows of horses and carriages.

The thick fog became common place in London and Henry Luttrel described it as:

“First at the dawn of lingering day,
It rises of an ashy grey;

Then deepening with a sordid stain
Of yellow, like a lion’s mane.”

Mixed in with industrial air pollution and the thousands of chimneys in the city, the fog became known as the ‘pea soup fog’ , the ‘pea souper’, the ‘black fog’ and the ‘killer fog’.

Today the London Fog is a gin based cocktail, as well as an Earl Grey Tea Latte and a coat and clothing company that made waterproof clothing for the United States Navy during World War II.

Dawn Denton©

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