Weird & Wonderful London 8

Wey-hey, music, laughter, booze and a glitter-covered boy in a big frock – it must be another party in London! Yes, except this one was in 1936, at the Chelsea Arts Club Ball. It could have been taken last weekend. There used to be four pillars on Chelsea Bridge prior to its rebuilding in 1934, […]

Lit Up

Following on from the ‘Spitfire’ post, here’s another odd radio memory kicked off by Ian Luck, who knows far too much about this sort of thing. As the comments point out, it’s performed by chaps called Public Service Broadcasting. The above photo appears to have been taken in 1970 but I’m assured is recent. Got […]

Every Era Gets The Icons It Deserves

I read a quote somewhere that summed up the journey difference between the UK and the US; ‘When I went from my house to my old job across Texas I realised that the same journey in Europe would have taken me to two or three different countries.’ I love the fact that most of Europe […]

The Joke’s On Us: Where Does Comedy Go Now?

I wrote this a decade ago: ‘The English sense of humour really takes a lot of explaining. It’s a mixture of coarseness, camp, surreality, amateurishness, cruelty, subtlety, wordplay and dark dry wit. We don’t do puns – they’re loved by the French. We do like the strangeness of language (why else would we find the […]


After reading yesterday’s comments, I quickly researched the PSB films recut from COI and GPO shorts. They seem to have started out with many musicians, who eventually boiled down to two, who became the band Public Service Broadcasting. They’re appear to be British, thoughtful, low-key backroom boys who have discovered a niche and give live […]

Weird & Wonderful London 7

I reshoot these images from bound collections, not from online versions, and in a great many of the old photography books I search there are unimaginably crowded scenes of protest or celebration. Of course we still do that now, but what impresses is the size of the gatherings then. Similar events today garner a fraction […]

A June Miscellany

No single subject today, just a quick round-up of the week. A lot of exhibitions, concerts and plays now roam the world in touring productions, so if you missed the Pink Floyd exhibition in London you can catch it in Madrid. The Kubrick exhibition, Tate Modern’s Franz West show (the Austrian artist destroyed artworks that anyone […]

War And Pax

Jan Morris’s prose changed my life, probably because I read her at just the right moment. This retired author’s most powerful work is still not easily available, although it exists in a magnificent Folio Society set and is now online. Let’s dispense with the most sensational aspect of her life first. A gender change, from […]

Weird & Wonderful London 6

  This grim-looking shot is not a corpse but something that used to be such a common sight around Hyde Park that a friend and I once made a short film about them – the escape artists of London would be put in sacks, hung from poles in chains and set fire to, then wriggle […]

The Rise Of Folk Horror

Lately a wealth of film footage has been restored and returned to cinemas, especially by the BFI, and in the light of British film’s ever-increasing financial instability it seems a good option for young filmmakers to mix existing footage into new forms. Terence Davies did it with ‘Of Time and the City’, about Liverpool, and […]