The Tyburn walk is to my mind ‘a British Establishment-upon-sewer walk’ as so many of its landmarks connect with ruling-class sites, most notoriously the site of six centuries of public hangings in what is now called Marble Arch.

Asquith, Winfield House (the U.S. Ambassador’s residence where the only above-ground view of the Tyburn is cordoned off by armed guards), the death-squads of the S.O.E., William Pitt the Younger, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, MI5, Houses of Parliament etc. etc. The Tyburn swirls its detritus under all their pillars, including royal piss and shit from the Palace itself to the Tyburn’s outflow by Vauxhaull Bridge, opposite the green and cream fortress of M.I.6.

The Tavistock Centre is on the course of the river and boasts the excellent statue of Freud above, though there is no monument to the other maverick shrink  R.D. Laing who worked there subsequently.

Sigmund Freud was assuredly not a member of the British Establishment – though he was lionised in the short time he lived and died in London – but his descendants very much feature in the family trees of the British ruling class and upper class of today.

That’s not a football scarf about his neck, it’s a Palestine scarf. I do not think Freud would object too much to sporting it. He was an anti-Zionist, as the following letter of rebuff shows:

Vienna: 26 February 1930

Dear Sir:

“I cannot do as you wish [i.e., become a Zionist] … Whoever wants to influence the masses must give them something rousing and inflammatory and my sober judgment of Zionism does not permit this. I certainly sympathize with its goals, am proud of our University in Jerusalem and am delighted with our settlement’s prosperity. But, on the other hand, I do not think that Palestine could ever become a Jewish state, nor that the Christian and Islamic worlds would ever be prepared to have their holy places under Jewish care. It would have seemed more sensible to me to establish a Jewish homeland on a less historically-burdened land. But I know that such a rational viewpoint would never have gained the enthusiasm of the masses and the financial support of the wealthy. I concede with sorrow that the baseless fanaticism of our people is in part to be blamed for the awakening of Arab distrust. I can raise no sympathy at all for the misdirected piety which transforms a piece of a Herodian wall [i.e., the Wailing Wall] into a national relic, thereby offending the feelings of the natives. Now judge for yourself whether I, with such a critical point of view, am the right person to come forward as the solace of a people deluded by unjustified hope.”

Sigmund and I? Who’d have thought?

And the scarf is actually made by his great-granddaughter Bella Freud.(Proceeds to Palestine etc…)


Photo: Max Reeves



About Niall McDevitt

Niall McDevitt > poet > author of b/w (Waterloo Press, 2010) and Porterloo (International Times, 2012) > urban explorer > radical pedestrian who leads Shakespeare/Blake/Rimbaud /Yeats walks, among others.
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