Let’s All Go Down The Strand

The Twinings Tea Museum is actually a shop built on Tom’s Coffee House in the Strand, and has been around since 1706. It is the world’s oldest tea shop, a narrow canister-lined hall with a tiny ‘tea museum’ (actually a few cupboards) at the end.┬áThe exhibits include a wooden box with the gold-painted initials ‘T.I.P’ […]

Uncovering London

Reading Robert Elms’ new book, ‘London Made Us’, about the radio presenter’s London childhood, I laughed at a memory he revived. Heading down through Farringdon toward Blackfriars you used – until very recently – to pass a big shop sign that said ‘The Fancy Cheese People’. I always imagined their switchboard answering the phones with […]

It’s Publication Day (Again!)

  To commemorate the launch of my latest novel, I had Maggie Armitage over for tea to tell me all about why there are people living in her TV set, the drug dealers on the Blackstock Road, mysteriously moving dustbins, the resurrection and what makes her turn off the fridge at night. The threshing machine […]

London, All Change

Everything has moved around or changed out of recognition Built on the site of the old Bermondsey Abbey, the Bermondsey Market was a thing of wonder, sprawling into the backstreets and surrounding warehouses. You have to get up very early on a Friday morning to go there, and even many Londoners have no idea it’s […]

Inconvenient Foods

As child obesity figures rise again McDonalds is once more in trouble. The junk food giant is accused of cheating its way to children with a McDonalds Monopoly game, while management tries to weasel its way out by saying it’s great for salads when everyone knows that lettuce is not what they’re selling. Do they […]

Forking Out In Britain

  There was a time within recent memory when you couldn’t get a meal or a drink in central London after 2pm. The walk from Westminster Bridge to Tower Bridge yielded not so much as a cup of tea. In Michael Palin’s delightful filmed childhood memoir ‘East of Ipswich’ a seaside lady points out, ‘Breakfast […]

Great Novels Set In WWII

It took a very clear-eyed and unsentimental author like Rex Warner to create such a perversely beautiful, horrific novel as ‘The aerodrome’. Taking a contrary position to the prevailing attitude of the time (1941), that the British Air Force pilot represented a pinnacle of pure order in a time of dark chaos, he tells the […]

London Stories: A London View

The spot where Farringdon Road (one of those routes to which we often attach a definite article) becomes New Bridge Street is not as interesting to look at these days, but it hides a formidable history. And for me, in an odd way, it is one of London’s hearts – one of its key crossing […]

London Stories: The Big Frieze

I set stories in London because when it comes to fables, legends and historical tidbits the city offers up an infinite and continuous supply. London has always been a working city, its streets, wards, neighbourhoods and boroughs defined by the trades of the people who lived in them – but no more. When everyone seems […]

Go Mad Or Go Home

Every time I sit down to write a novel I come up against the same question; how realistic should I make it? How fantastical? How believable should it be? How mad? How down to earth? I’ve written here before about how so-called ‘gritty’ thrillers and crime procedurals are usually nothing of a kind. We see […]