Monthly Archives: May 2015

Cool Stuff: Fireworks From The Rocket’s POV

An occasional spot for fun virals doing the rounds. This was achieved by flying a DJI Phantom 2 through a firework display and filming it with a GoPro Hero 3 silverdrone. It would be even better in 3D. Not sure about the choice of music but at least it’s not Katy Perry for a change!

After Lost Rivers, Vanished Neighbourhoods

In 2011 I wrote the foreword for a book called ‘London’s Lost Rivers’ by Tom Bolton. Unlike other books on the subjects it was the first comprehensive walker’s guide, and showed you how to trace the path of the rivers overground. Along the way there were tidbits about the rivers themselves – but as a […]

US Scribes Thrash UK Hacks Shock!

When I was a teenager I decided I wanted to be a journalist. As luck would have it, I knew a couple who worked on the Mirror and the Mail (when it was a broadsheet), but they warned that the face of British journalism was about to change. The era of hot-type was coming to […]

‘Gilded Needles’ Is Back

Michael McDowell frequently returned to the idea of matriarchal, dynastic revenge in his books, and his wonderfully chatty style made it feel as if he was imparting a terrible piece of gossip while describing all manner of disturbing events. ‘Gilded Needles’ is a vivid historical tintype of old New York that forms the backdrop to a nightmarish […]

How London Design Goes Wrong

Why is it that good design ideas in London so often get screwed up? I think of the astoundingly ugly Orbit Tower in the Olympic Park, which they’re now thinking of sticking a slide inside to encourage someone to like it, or the grotesquely disproportionate, naff statue of the kissing couple in St Pancras Station, […]

London’s Second-Biggest House Faces A Dilemma

Buckingham Palace is the biggest house in London. What’s the second biggest? That would be the Grade II listed house Witanhurst in Highgate, once owned by Sir Arthur Crosfield, the English soap and candle magnate, who had the place designed in Queen Anne style. He chose Witanhurst, a combination of the old Anglo-Saxon words “witan” […]

The Home Store From Hell

As you know I enjoy the peculiar shops of the Eastern bloc, but they aren’t the only strange sellers of tat to be found in the world, as this North African store testifies. First of all, it’s vast, and there’s nothing at all in it that any sane westerner would want in their home. Floor […]

The Full Story Of ‘Maryann’ & The Missing Book

  Earlier this week a reader pointed out that a copy of Maryann Forrest’s extraordinary and prescient ‘HERE: Away From It All’ is currently selling on eBay for 450 squids. That’s an astonishing thing to have happened to a forgotten novel, but for those of you who missed the full story of Maryann Forrest and […]

England & The Tropics

For an author who is continually associated with London, I’m desirous of leaving it a lot. The city is perfectly pitched at a central point for travelling, and as it’s possible to reach anywhere in Europe by simply catching a train at a station just a 10 minute walk from my front door, the temptation […]

Missing Marvels

As many of you know, for several years now I’ve been running a column called ‘Invisible Ink’ in the Independent on Sunday about authors who wrote the popular books which have vanished from bookshelves. Every once in a while I update my favourite ‘missings’, so here’s the current revised list, and you can find more […]