Jolly Useful London Things

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I was fooling around with a new Bryant & May short story earlier today, and stumbled across some examples of Things London Used To Do Jolly Well But Stopped Doing. One of them, the Porter’s Rest on Piccadilly, was reinstated at a ceremony recently. Another was the Daily Telegraph information service. Started in 1948, it undertook […]

Can London Still Take It?

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‘London Can Take It’ was a short propaganda film from 1940 showing the effect of the Blitz on its buildings and people. But since then the metropolis faced three building booms that tested the theory. In the 1960s, the 1980s and the present it underwent its periodic growth spurts, driven by developers, and where we […]

Reviewed: The New Kindle Oasis

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All my life I’ve sprouted books like hostels have fleas. They appear about me, falling from pockets, trailing behind me, stuffed into pockets and bags, in my hands, on beer-sticky bar counters, in bathrooms and kitchens, left on trains, propped against lamps and bottles and pillows. One to read, one spare in case I finish […]

A Change Is Coming To This Site

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Over the years this website has evolved as changing formats have developed. I dumped Flash because too many people could not access the lustrous moving images of London, and iPhones have forced simplification upon most sites. Remember when the web was full of glamorous complex pulsing pictures? Sadly most of those have gone now as […]

What You Write Shows Who You Are

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It has been in the back of my head for a long time that there is a right and a wrong way to behave after becoming a writer. Because we don’t work in corporate environments we have to form a creed for ourselves, but what should it be? Before I was brave enough to try […]

Invisible Ink 8: Lady Cynthia Asquith

by Walter Benington, for  Elliott & Fry, chlorobromide print, mid 1930s

  I often think that female authors from the past excel at cruel stories with emotional and possibly supernatural tints, using apparitions, fears and forebodings to indicate heightened states of unspoken emotional distress. In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ (now a staple on every English student’s comparative literature list), a wife possibly suffering from […]

Another Film That Didn’t Make My Top Ten List

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It should have made the top ten. ‘The Producers’ is a touchstone film for me. I saw it when it came out at the cinema in a double bill with ‘Where’s Poppa?’ (or possibly ‘Kentucky Fried Movie’). The plot; terminally nervous accountant Gene Wilder attempts to do the books of sleazy theatrical agent Zero Mostel, […]

Taking The Lid Off LitFests

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One of the peculiarities of appearing at literary festivals is that people always ask you if you’re having a great time, to which my pal Joanne Harris replied with just the right amount of testiness; ‘We’re working at the weekend.’ Usually for nothing more than the love of books and (hopefully, if they’ve been ordered) […]

Does London Have A Hidden Map?

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My friend Jan sends me texts about sacred London, pointing out that London’s ceremonial sites, of which there are a great number, may have formed a vast geometric design covering over 400 square miles. It’s said that all Roman roads aligned to this pattern, but that they were already here anyway. The oldest example of a […]

Automatically London

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Tucked down a side-street off High Holborn is a strange little museum – more of a shop, really, and not an especially cheap one, but who could begrudge a place filled with such lunatic joy? Some of you may remember the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre, which had its arcade in Covent garden from 1984 to 1999, and […]