The clip above has no audio, it's of a live animal market in the east end of London during the 1930s. There were puppies, kittens, birds, monkeys, mice and apparently lion cubs up for sale. In researching the opening of a possible new story, I discovered this was not surprising for the time. In fact you could buy anything from tigers and panthers to camels and anteaters on the other side of town, in the luxurious department store, Harrods. How would anyone look after a leopard in a London flat? Why? What happened when owners realised they couldn't possibly take care of them? What happened to all these animals during the war? Was London Zoo ever bombed?
The time before a new story begins to take shape is both daunting and exciting and full of questioning. I never know where the voice of a character might come from, what the world looked like through their eyes, what they smelled, needed, dreamed about, fought for. I never know where the story might lead. This period of loose research feels like the scattering of seeds into wild, untamed spaces. Perhaps something will come of it, perhaps not. But I'm in the habit of hoping, the habit of sowing.
For the full collection of photos by Anthony Linch, taken in 1946 for Life magazine, click here.