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East London love story

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  1. Introduction
  2. The people who dreamed of a better life
  3. 1963: The coldest February in London
  4. Joe De Milo: Musician and pianist
    1. A gentle scholarly man
    2. His inscrutable God
    3. The accident that killed his parents
    4. His hunger and his pride
  5. Eric: The son of Joe De Milo
    1. His dislike for education
    2. The translucent innocence about the child
    3. School and home: Two separated entities
  6. Dusty Switcher
    1. Dusty and Aunty Cookie
    2. His mothers illness and her recovery
  7. Cookie's pride in Eric
  8. The life of Nellie Donovan
  9. The Queen's coronation anniversary
  10. The romance between Eric and Helena
  11. The New Year
  12. De Milo's trip to the London Pictorial Magazine
  13. Eric's declaration of his marriage to his mother
  14. The cold journey to Russell Street
  15. Helena's attempts to hide her marriage from the staff of T and H
  16. Joe's accident
  17. Eric's promotion to the main photographer for the magazine
  18. The war troubles
  19. Eric's enrolment in the armed forces
  20. His stay at the retreating camp
  21. Conclusion

They were both children of poverty, born into the dark slums of East London. Yet their worlds could hardly have been more different. Eric De Milo blessed with a loving Italian family and an artistic gift that gave him a chance for a better life. On the other hand, Helena Whitman who knew little of love or kindness, her gift was for survival. Then astonishingly, love blossoms between them, and for a while, it seems that nothing can tear them apart.

However, can their love endure when it separates Eric from the world he cherishes?

This is the story of a love that yearns to flower despite every obstacle, the kind of love that endures the hardships of the East London slums. The first time he saw her she was in a gallery, standing right in front of one of his pictures. To Eric De Milo, a young artist in London, she was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. Her name he learnt was Helena, and she came from a world that was very different from his. Then love blossomed between them, and where love is concerned, the differences never seem to matter. In the streets of East London, England, where the dark alleys and the narrow streets hold the secrets of the salty sweat of hard labor, the despair of families living in the tiny rooms of the little terrace houses, big enough to hold families with their children all under one roof.

These are the places, which barely sustain the life of immigrants through the ages. The people who dreamed of a better life, in a civilized European country, the Empire the storytellers spoke about in the corners of their muddy market places, where the streets of London are paved with gold. This is the infamous east end side of the notorious square mile of the City of London, where the rich get richer by the minute and the newcomers of the third world tighten their belts even more, in the hope that they will feel the hunger less.

This is the new generation of the new arrival of yet another race. It is like the gigantic rotating wheel in the local fun fair, where every one of its sitting buckets is holding a different group of nationals. It started with the Yiddish Jews, as they are remembered, rushing in to avoid the European persecution.

[...] ?I'd love it.' the cups,' Cookie commanded. keep ourselves busy, we don't notice pains, agree?' They stoked the fire and tidied the room while the kettle boiled, and Miriam did not moan once. When they were sipping their tea in front of the fire, they heard the first reedy cry of Helena's newborn baby. Cookie went puffing off down the stairs at once to see what it was. boy,' the midwife told his proud great-aunt. dolly!' Cookie said, weeping freely. [...]

[...] love you Helena.' The crowds on London Bridge bewildered him that evening. The home-going workers jostled around him, and gradually the tussle of their passage pushed him back against the parapet. He turned away from them, seeking some other natural sight to comfort him, and saw that over the river the sunset was just beginning. A spring sunset, a peaceful sunset. He knew he had stood on London Bridge before, leaning on the parapet just as he was doing now, feeling lost and unable to focus his thoughts, but he could not remember when it had been or what he had lost. [...]

[...] Love from Nellie.' Then she went home, where her mother was hard at work folding circulars and inserting them in envelopes. The room was full of boxes and papers. The kids were all over the place. Tessie had already taken Nellie's place as substitute mother and was carrying the baby about on her hip, poor kid. They all looked dreadfully dirty to her, but they were pleased to see her and thought she looked like real swell.' ?Where's pa?' she asked. [...]

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