Sex & Scandal Beside The Thames

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How much of a gap existed between British cinema and Hollywood? Try this simple test. Ask yourself what comes to mind when you think of the word ‘pilot’. In the context of American film, you may get Star Wars movies or Tom Cruise fetishistically suited and booted in Top Gun. In the British equivalent, you […]

We’re Going Where The Sun Shines Brightly…

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No, not central London, where it’s currently hotter than Istanbul, but on our bi-annual week-long sailing trip around the Turkish coast. If previous trips are anything to go by, wi-fi will be spotty but I’ll post whenever I can. To set the mood, here’s there opening of ‘Bryant & May Ahoy!’ from ‘London’s Glory’, the […]

London’s Best Joke

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That joke, in the words of the immortal Ian Nairn, chronicler of London buildings good and bad, is architectural, and is in the East End. Once there were large department stores built all over the capital in imitation of Selfridges, Debenham & Freebody, Bourne & Hollingsworth and the like in Oxford Street. Unfortunately, few of […]

Rediscovering Super-Cannes

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After watching ‘High Rise’ again recently and enjoying it much more than I did the first time, I was drawn back to the Ballard bookshelf, and from his later writing picked ‘Super-Cannes’ for a reappraisal. Here’s what I found. There is a peculiar Englishness that manifests itself in exploration of the exotic, and JG Ballard […]

Into The Unknown: A Fun But Frustrating Look At SF

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I like the quirkiness of exhibitions at the Barbican; the toothpaste-tube space at the Curve gallery is awkward, being too high and too narrow, and simply not big enough, with the result that shows are often divided into three parts on different floors – yet part of the fun can be trying to find where […]

London, Underground Part 2

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  Collecting books on London is a lethal habit; you start with a couple of photographic albums and end up building extra-strong shelves for large-format esoteric handbooks on vanished railway stations. So many volumes have been written that one would think every possible area and subject had been covered – some while back I made […]

London, Underground, Part 1

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  The touchstone volume for collectors of books about what’s under our capital city is the lavishly illustrated and somewhat mechanically obsessed ‘London Under London’ (1984), but Stephen Smith’s book ‘Underground London’ has become a classic on the subject. It goes several stages deeper by broadening the brief, taking in rivers, conduits, sepulchres, subways, arches, […]

Favourite Bryant & May Book: The Verdict

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  Thank you everyone who responded to my call, which asked you for a favourite Bryant & May novel to help me determine where I’m taking the series next. I’m very grateful for the help, and although the results were very varied they did point in a certain direction – and were not at all […]

Atomic!

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Something a little less London-centric today. So much has been written about the Manhattan Project, Los Alamos and the creation of ‘Fat Man’ and ‘Little Boy’ that you’d be forgiven for imagining there was little more to explore, but some extraordinary information was declassified by NASA telling the story of Project Orion. America in the […]

Vote For Your Favourite Bryant & May Book

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Believe me, this is not an exercise in self-aggrandisement, but an attempt to discover where I should take the characters next. I will shortly be presenting ideas to my publisher that will bring the old boys’ adventures up to a neat and full twenty volumes. Although you currently have ‘Strange Tide’ in paperback and ‘Wild […]