Oddments Of 2015

Observatory

What happened this year? London got a Triffid street, Apple brought out a watch nobody seems to want and a number of the capital’s less-known attractions closed down, like the Type Museum and the De Morgan Foundation Collection of antiquities – but are they actually gone? Attractions seem reluctant to announce their closure and the Type Museum certainly has a good online presence. The Cinema Museum is once more under threat and others are at risk – hopefully one of them is the new Jack the Ripper Museum, a rubbishy con-trick that dodged council guidelines by initially promising it would be a museum dedicated to the lives of East End women.

Great swathes of London got redeveloped – some well, many badly. There was a nice surprise in my neighbourhood, where the old lighthouse (once used to advertise a Victorian oyster bar) was sympathetically restored from this;

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To this. It was a trick, of course; while everyone was looking at the lighthouse, the part behind grew massively to incorporate new office space, but the design was so attractive that nobody minded.

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Other projects like the massive rebuilding of Battersea Power Station and the Mount Pleasant Sorting Office are being ruined by greedy developers. This was the year that Soho, London’s disreputable playground, was finally obliterated. Several hundred huge new rebuilding projects kicked off across the city while more fundamental problems, like cyclists being killed on badly planned cycle lanes, hiked rents and overcrowded pavements choked with unnecessary signage and furniture, continued.

It was a good year for Heath Robinson (deceased). Hundreds of pictures by the illustrator who became a byword for eccentric, ingenious devices were saved for the nation.

Heath Robinson illustration of 'A simple method of cracking nuts'

On a personal note, ‘Bryant & May and the Burning Man’ came out, its opening page a doffed cap to Mr Dickens, its plot involving the riots that followed news of bankers’ misdeeds in the City. ‘The Sand Men’ ended my fears by getting good reviews, even from the notoriously hard-to-please SF community.

Meanwhile, a handful of NIMBYs in Burton-On-Trent protested against a mosque from being built and got this very English response from locals.

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The USA gets a rough ride about its isolationism in the rest of the world, but this year the US Supreme Court made good on its narrow but total victory for same-sex marriage. And we all celebrated with them.

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I posted a record number of blog entries, from explaining the Greek debt to the history of bad writing to festivals and gender balance, despite working on three novels and doing a fair bit of travelling. I was able to do this thanks to readers’ continuing comments firing my enthusiasm and determination to keep running a properly interactive website.

And so we head for 2016, and I’ll be running another competition wherein you can win signed first editions of Bryant & May books.

 

6 comments on “Oddments Of 2015”

  1. Roger says:

    I don’t know if you ever went, but the De Morgan Foundation Collection was well worth a visit. It was closed because Wandsworth Council – which is so philistine even other London councils notice – refused to renew their lease in a former library. It’s based in the Watts Museum near Guildford now.
    William de Morgan was also notable for a successful late career move. Having had to abandon pottery he became a novelist and his novels – the first was published when he was 67 – were best-sellers.

  2. Brooke Lynne says:

    Just finished B&M & the Secret Santa…. a great escape from christmas carols and other holiday nonsense.
    Oddments– what is happening to Bryant & May in the US market? Unlike the 2014 release of the Bleeding Heart, I cannot find hard cover edition the Burning Man in stores. Is your publisher abandoning us? Are you now a slave to Amazon? What should we do?

  3. Vivienne says:

    Did see the De Morgan museum before it went. Happened on it by chance which adds to the experience. His colours were just spectacular. Would like to know if the Type Museum is ever resurrected. There is another Lighthouse building somewhere in north east London, but it’s location escapes me at the moment ( actually Markhouse Road, Walthamstow – just checked). Originally a church, shining a light to the ungodly I think.
    Definitely a prolific year, Admin, don’t know how you expect readers to keep up with you!

  4. admin says:

    Hi Brooke – absolutely not. The hardback Burning Man is out right now and should be in your local store – if not you can do me a huge favour by asking someone about it.
    If you still have trouble finding it, let me know and I’ll raised the matter with the publisher.

  5. Brooke Lynne says:

    Not a problem,Christopher. Will demand order from big box bookstore and our last independent store. It’s doing us a favor–we’re desperate for reading material that does not mention Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and the lot. Please let Arthur come to the States and rescue us; with his knowledge of the past, Arthur can reveal some deep repugnant secret about Trump’s father who was British. What fun.

  6. Helen Martin says:

    I would almost not have recognized the lighthouse, having only seen the run down version. That is really attractive and no, the office addition is nicely muted behind it. Good to know some work is friendly.
    I have a feeling about construction. There is a large number of construction companies, usually attached to “developers”, which are always searching for properties on which to work. These properties usually have some sort of structure already on them so the developers should be called redevelopers to start with. Someone has determined that any building older than 30 years is past its usable age and so should be torn down. I would like someone to admit that all of the construction going on is make-work to keep crews busy and revolve the money around. We had a house down the block torn down the day before Christmas Eve so that will be a construction site for the next few months.

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