Blog / 2017

Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
Image
It is the writer's curse to lose topicality; we age, the world changes fast and London becomes unrecognisable. New York is, for good and bad, exactly the same old New York I visited on my twenties, even as New Yorkers complain about chain stores and rents. Finite and boundaried, it has barely changed in the time I've been going. I feel that's largely true of England, and especially at Christmas…
4 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
Image
In this series I'm not including any of the shops that usually go into glossy travel magazines, the ones which are meant to typify London, because they don't. Lobb's and Lock's and Berry & Rudd and Smith & Co are beautiful and evocative time warps, but I've never met anyone who has shopped in them - not quite true, a friend once bought me a very expensive Smith & Co umbrella. I lost it the very…
20 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
Image
After finishing 'Film Freak' I realised that the book was more or less a requiem for popular British film, and that the only future for a national cinema seemed to lay in arthouse independents or films selling 'Englishness' to overseas audiences. Since then, all that has come to pass, with even the delightful 'Paddington' films falling into the category of Selling Englishness abroad. But on film…
11 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
Image
I get quite hot under the collar when writers who set their books in the past make fundamental mistakes. Two that spring to mind are a terrible novel about Victorian London by an American mid-Western author who apparently hadn't noticed that the nation's currency once consisted of pounds, shillings and pence (she had her hero tipping a hansom cab driver with modern money) and someone who extended…
11 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
Image
London is filled with hidden studios, warehouses, schools and chapels that people with imagination colonised before the property boom. One set of light industrial buildings near me had been turned into homes by a group of old hippies and creatives who had remained through the decades in a kind of collective-living environment, so we moved in with them while embarking on nearly a year's worth of…
1 comment
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
Image
So we found we'd moved into what appeared to be the business class lounge of a space station. At the time of moving in there were no buildings to break the view right across London - you could see almost to the airport. A blank minimalist household proved stunning in summer but bleak in winter. Taking Le Corbusier's quote to heart, that 'a house is a machine for living', we found that this…
11 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
Image
I don't believe that writers have to live in lighthouses or stone cottages overlooking the sea in order to work. Being an inner-city lad I'm used to sirens, loud music, the man with Tourette's next door bellowing his head off, all sorts of interruptions, road drills, barge hooters and general random yelling. But it's important to feel comfortable and relaxed at home, knowing there's a space to…
11 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
Image
'Riceyman Steps' by Arnold Bennett (1923) is a tough read, being relentlessly downbeat until a faint ray of light at the close. It concerns the final year in the life of Henry, who keeps a second-hand bookshop in Clerkenwell area (the steps are still there although most of the houses have gone - they used to be known as the 'Plum Pudding Steps' - no-one seems to know why). Henry marries Violet, a…
6 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
Image
Considering Bloomsbury is an area of London long associated with writers, it has surprisingly few shops connected with the trade. Thankfully it has the excellent London Review Bookshop (with its rather hidden basement) but why, for example, is there no paper shop? It's hard to find washi, the japanese paper products you get all over Tokyo, or indeed find any letter-related materials around there…
14 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
Image
Back to more serious matters tomorrow, but the sun's out today and I think we've earned a song. Oh God, you think, he's on about lyrics again. It's a writers' thing. I'm not in love with flowery 19th cent. poetry but I love clever wordplay. Last night I saw Dominic Cooke's production of 'Follies' at the National Theatre. I'd seen a version of Sondheim's dark, flawed play about ageing, (fol) lies…
1 comment

Years