Getting Up London’s Nose


Me, I like a good nose-around in London, and like others I have been puzzled by the detached pair of nostrils stuck two metres up Admiralty Arch which are supposed to represent good luck. There was a story knocking around that they belonged to Napoleon (why?) but the truth turned out to be more mundane – an artist stuck the nose up there in the nineties and it was allowed to stay.

But there are also the Seven Noses of Soho to consider – these are dotted around the area and have now spawned their own myth; that if you touch them all you will attain wealth. Currently a walking tour of Soho is offering to whip you around all seven, plus a grand eighth nose, a ghost nose and a false nose. The idea is to investigate the creation of the noses and the myths surrounding them. The tour – sadly not led by Mr Bryant – offers other hidden gems including an unusual Victorian fund-raising device, some comic mosaics in an unlikely location, secret art and a bonus ear.

Or, if you want a less salubrious, not to mention rude and funny, look at Soho’s finest (that’ll be its rent boys and ladies of the night) head for the Soho Theatre to see ‘Soho Cinders’, about politics, spin and sex (my favourite line; one hooker asks the other how she looks and is hit with the reply; ‘Like you’ve been covered in Pritstick and rolled through Accessorize.’)

Soho may only be a shadow of its former saucy self – it’s never been pretty but having half of Dean Street dug up by Crossrail doesn’t exactly help – but it can still chuck you the odd surprise. Last night I was sitting outside a wine bar and a clown went down the length of Dean Street offering everyone chocolates.

2 comments on “Getting Up London’s Nose”

  1. Dan Terrell says:

    This is why London has Wahington, DC beat. Noses.
    I’m just glad people can’t vote for what other body part they’d rather have displayed.

  2. Matt says:

    By peculiar coincidence, I’m doing the tour this evening. The guide, Peter Berthoud, also runs the excellent Discovering London blog, which regularly unearths forgotten London maps, photos and plans. I commend it to all London lovers.

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