Monthly Archives: September 2009

Thank You Nottingham!

I’m back from Fantasycon, the annual beano hosted by the British Fantasy Society, which was one of the best events for several years, and had a great turn-out. I had some wonderful moments and the great pleasure of hearing Brian Clemens, writer of The Avengers, talk about his work. Expertly hosted by Steve Jones, this […]

How long does it take to get from Chronic Grass to Written Mess?

An addendum to the piece below: In the spirit of Little-England officialdom that used to exist in the postwar years, the infamously litigious Transport for London has always proven hilariously adept at creating its own PR disasters by banning any other versions of its maps. One version was a charming anagram map of the London […]

The Vanishing Thames

Transport For London decided to wreck Harry Beck’s iconic and innovative London Underground map by removing the Thames from it – essentially destabilising the grid by taking out its psychological compass. But there was clearly a craftier reason behind the move, which took place without public consultation of any kind; they hid the zone charges […]

Horror Wants Women To Scream But Not Talk

Among other things, Maura McHugh writes horror and dark fantastic fiction. This is from her blog today: ‘This weekend the British Fantasy Society is hosting its annual convention, Fantasy Con. I noticed the cover of a new book the BFS is launching at the convention: a collection of interviews with writers (the first in a […]

London Trivia

If you’re joining the throngs who will be climbing through buildings in Open House Weekend, there are a few other sights you might want to catch in passing…speaking of which, do you know why there’s no apostrophe in Selfridges anymore? (answer below) Answer: A sad tale; the larger-than-life Gordon Selfridge was kicked out by his […]

Will Authors’ Notes Become A Thing Of The Past?

A volume called ‘Agatha Christie’s secret notebooks’ has just been published, containing clues to how Christie wrote her detective fiction. She kept bits of paper on which she had scrawled embryonic plots; ideas sketched out on the back of household bills. Most interesting of all were notebooks containing the partial ideas for many of her […]

Exquisite Bodies on Euston Road

The anatomists of the past hired wax model makers to create disconcerting displays of the human form giving birth or eaten away with disease. The lurid lifesized models were at once both anatomy lessons, freak shows and ways of instructing the uneducated about the dangers of poor hygiene, specifically the horrors of so-called venereal diseases […]

Summer’s End: The Thames Festival

The Thames has an illustrious history of hosting pageants, and it’s good to see that this is celebrated again with the Thames Festival, although being at another event that night (also on the Thames) somehow I contrived to both be there and miss it, thanks to the convoluted way in which the river folds back […]

Official: Great Britain Now Going Backwards

Over the last few weeks all we’ve heard about in London is The Beatles, as if they’d reformed or Oasis had finally turned into them (they wish). It was all part of a cross-media onslaught to foist remastered CDs, games and other tat on a new generation of purchasers. But in news that will horrify […]

Are Gilbert & Sullivan Finally Dead?

Last night I was at an open-air performance of ‘The Yeomen Of The Guard’ in the moat at the Tower Of London. I thought it might be fun to see a site-specific opera that’s rarely performed now. Opera snobs loathe G&S for its stodginess (and I’ve seen some really bad productions) but the muscular energy […]