Soho Today

Hard to find a good cuppa but urinals prevail


An thistle discovered on our walk through Hampstead Heath

Visiting London today–a place where I spent my teenage years listening to pop music and rummaging through old clothes at Pettycoat Lane–brings back memories that pack an English punch: the zebra street crossings where cars are required to stop; the neighborhood news agents where you can buy a paper or ice cream; and Marks and Spencer’s department stores, where my mum would load up on socks, underwear and sweaters for five daughters and one son.

The delightful, crumbling, gingham-curtained tea shops have been replaced by espresso bars: a pity and a joy.

Pity because you have to search the city for a pot of sweet black tea and a home-made scone, and joyful because–finally–you can get a good cup of coffee in London.

Public places seem more clean today: the underground nearly glistens and the pubs seem brighter and more cheery.

Perhaps it’s because you can no longer smoke in the subways or pubs.


British pissoir

Walking through Soho today lots of people smoke: they pack the sidewalks, standing, drinking beer and blowing puffs into the air (because you can’t smoke in the bars).

In the evenings, the Soho sidewalks get clogged with drinkers and smokers.

And then there’s the pissoirs.

One evening, seemingly out of nowhere, we nearly walked into a bloke taking a leak in an outdoor urinal (that wasn’t there in the daylight hours).

We were told the urinals come out at night for the overflow crowds.

The contraptions are shaped like a giant, plastic four-leaf clover, with four individual wedges.

A gent walks up to the wedge and relieves himself, striking a public pose.

Better, I suppose, than pissing on the side of a building.

In the mornings–before the coffee bars open at 8 a.m.–store owners hose down their shops and street cleaners brush the streets.

And Soho is clean once more. ###

2 July 2017

Photo from








About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in american indian, London and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s