London's A Liar

Christopher Fowler
eyk Regular readers will be aware of the respect I have for The Londonist, one of the capital's most quirky (and relentlessly perky) sites, and one which will direct you deeper into the world of obscure specialist London websites, a wormhole from which you may never escape. But
it's been bothering me
for a while that those tour guides you see around talk...well, rubbish. In a moment that reminds me of the play 'Lettuce & Lovage', in which Maggie Smith plays a bored National Trust guide making shit up for tourists, I once heard a tour guide explaining that Sherlock Holmes was based on a real-life detective who lived in Baker Street, a doorway he proceeded to point out. It's down to the Londonist's editor, Matt Brown, to set the record straight in 'Everything You Know About London Is Wrong'. Now, we all know that Boudicca isn't buried in King's Cross Station (I have the Queen of the Iceni explain this herself in 'Bryant & May: Strange Tide') but, to quote the blurb on Matt's book; 'Think the tower that holds Big Ben is called St Stephen's Tower? Think again - it was called the Clock Tower until 2012 when it was renamed the Elizabeth Tower. Think that the Union Flag flying over Buckingham Palace means the Queen is home? It means that she's elsewhere, doing other Queenish things.' Brown has picked through the facts and separated them from fictions. I haven't read the book yet but it goes straight on my list of must-haves. It's a tenner, in hardcover, out now.


Wayne Mook (not verified) Fri, 22/07/2016 - 17:41

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Good grief is London not a big place down south?

Has he any other books out.


Jan (not verified) Fri, 22/07/2016 - 17:50

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

There's nothing like,spinning the tourists a tale though. I think it should become an Olympic sport. I once told a group of innocent American tourists that the Royal Yacht Britannia which was moored at Tower bridge was in. fact the Commissioners launch the flagship of Thames division. On the same day my mate had a different set of tourists,w8ing round for the moat at the Tower of London to be,flooded with water from the Thames happens at 2030 part of the ancient ceremony of the keys....
I know you won't approve Mr. F

Helen Martin (not verified) Sat, 23/07/2016 - 17:13

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

As a tourist myself, no I don't approve. There are so many truly weird - and weirdly true - things to learn in this world that to be handed false data just complicates an already complex gridwork. The temptation is truly great, though, when faced with a group of people who haven't done any homework and are prepared to believe anything uttered in an authoritative voice. You have to be prepared for that solitary, carrying voice emanating from the one person at the back who has done homework and really wants clarification.
(Why is gridwork not an acceptable word?)

Helen Martin (not verified) Sat, 23/07/2016 - 17:15

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

(Is that third sentence as faulty as it seems? )

Jan (not verified) Sat, 23/07/2016 - 20:36

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Oh yes there's always one

Jan (not verified) Mon, 01/08/2016 - 11:56

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Sometimes what you need to keep in mind as a traveller/ tourist is that being at a particular location for you may be a once in lifetime unique experience but for the person you are with this is groundhog day they relive the same queries over and over and over and sometimes ( particularly for the untrained tourist guides passing on info they have obtained third or fourth hand anyway ) temptation gets a bit too much....