Monthly Archives: November 2013

Off To See Gog and Magog

Romulus and Remus may have founded Rome but we have those two rather sinister giants, Gog and Magog, to thank for London. This morning there’s a chance to see the wicker men themselves in the annual Lord Mayor’s show, which in two years’ time celebrates its 800th anniversary. But of course a big attraction is […]

Revelations for Bryant & May

With the next Bryant & May novel, ‘The Bleeding Heart’, coming out in March, and the twelfth volume, ‘The Burning Man’, due after that, readers can expect some revelations in the expanding saga of the Peculiar Crimes Unit. This year was a bumper year for the duo, from being nominated for three national awards and […]

The Secret Life Of Nursery Rhymes

I’ve been searching for a new title for my upcoming standalone abduction thriller, so I conducted some research on nursery rhymes.  These seem to be surprisingly finite in number and variety, and are defaulted to by parents even though their topicality and meaning has long been lost. I learned, for example, that ‘Humpty-Dumpty’ was supposedly […]

How Guy Fawkes Night Was Reborn

When I was a little boy, my brother and I would spend about a week building our Guy. He was made of old clothes cadged from parents and neighbours, stuffed with old newspaper and a hat, and the standard mask, made of pressed grey cardboard and sold everywhere. We would then trundle him down to […]

Changing London 3

The former prime minister of Qatar, whose family owns a chunk of the grotesque bullet-proof ‘One Hyde Park’ apartment complex, and Harrods (which they’re welcome to) said he would retire to London rather than his homeland. For some, his decision is symbolic. London has become a playground for foreign fortunes – a land where you […]

Changing London 2

Think of a city. Now hold the image and smash it into a thousand shards, so that each reflects a slightly different angle. That’s London, pretty much. Here, you see what look for. I think it was the Minister of Tourism who, when asked why so many people come here, notoriously replied; ‘For the sex.’ London […]

Changing London 1

‘Gentle Author’, whose wonderful site Spittalfields Life has spawned a new London book (see earlier post) had his photographer Colin O’Brien cover the Panto Dame Race, which signifies the start of the pantomime season, with Hackney Empire naturally leading where others follow. (I don’t know if this is by him, so I’m attributing it to […]

5 Unusual London Objects No.6

1. The Drunkard’s Dream Once nearly every London and seaside penny arcade had them, automata made by the Bolland company around 1935. When you put a penny in them they came to life, and were incredibly creepy. The most common surviving model today is ‘The Night Watchman’, but the creepiest were one set in a […]

More New London Books Than Ever!

Yikes, a great slew of London books is out in time for Christmas, including lots of bonkers old maps, including ‘Max’ Gill’s delicious ‘Wonderground’, a 1914 charmer showing all the tube stations as cottages and castles, with this written around its bright yellow edges: THE HEART OF BRITAIN’S EMPIRE HERE IS SPREAD OUT FOR YOUR […]

Maddest Book Of The Year

I admit it, the credentials drew me in. Who could resist a book written by a couple of historians and Brian May from Queen? ‘Diableries: Stereoscopic Adventures In Hell’ is a massive hardback collection of demonic scenes in 3D, and is an utterly bonkers labour of love that’s worth every penny of £40. It turns […]