Monthly Archives: March 2019

Our Forgotten Friends In The North

A mate of mine regularly bombards me with examples of bleak local humour, from the Manchester Evening News headline ‘Man’s legs stolen – wedding dream shattered’ to the York Evening Press competition to ‘Win a trip out with the city’s road gritting team!’ Northern journalists soon started writing novels with such a dark sense of […]

An Argument For High Speed Creativity

Last night I had the evening off so I thought I’d catch up with some movies. What would make a good double bill, I wondered. How about the latest releases from Lars Von Trier and Gaspar Noe? Never do an edgy art-house double bill when you’re feeling a bit fed up. I made it to […]

The Foofication Of London

Jacob’s Island was the roughest part of London. It’s where Dickens chose to send Bill Sykes to his death, a rookery of mud and sewage that was virtually in the river Thames itself. The filthy waters in the creeks that bisected it rose and fell, leaving silt and animal corpses, so the surrounding hovels were […]

The Writer Who Fell Happily Out Of Favour

Some authors are chameleons; they’ll write for decades and never produce a piece of work that defines them to a readership. Others create something so much from the heart that the work takes on a larger life and defines an era. Martino Crowley is from Vicksburg, Mississippi. Born in 1935, he grew up to love […]

Where Next For Bryant & May?

  In their new novel ‘The Lonely Hour’ Bryant & May spend some time in Hampstead, specifically at this house, which has unusual historical significance, here splendidly rendered by artist Keith Page. ‘All your detectives’ adventures occur in North London,’ said a lady at my launch. ‘When are they going to come south of the […]

Is London History All Fake News?

Listening to the nonsense that our city tour guides come out with. one starts to wonder just how much London history is made up. The Victorians certainly didn’t help, forever embroidering facts with simpering tales of medieval romance. Is it true that Trafalgar Square’s empty fourth plinth was once due to hold an equestrian statue […]

Let’s All Go Down The Strand

The Twinings Tea Museum is actually a shop built on Tom’s Coffee House in the Strand, and has been around since 1706. It is the world’s oldest tea shop, a narrow canister-lined hall with a tiny ‘tea museum’ (actually a few cupboards) at the end. The exhibits include a wooden box with the gold-painted initials ‘T.I.P’ […]

Uncovering London

Reading Robert Elms’ new book, ‘London Made Us’, about the radio presenter’s London childhood, I laughed at a memory he revived. Heading down through Farringdon toward Blackfriars you used – until very recently – to pass a big shop sign that said ‘The Fancy Cheese People’. I always imagined their switchboard answering the phones with […]

It’s Publication Day (Again!)

  To commemorate the launch of my latest novel, I had Maggie Armitage over for tea to tell me all about why there are people living in her TV set, the drug dealers on the Blackstock Road, mysteriously moving dustbins, the resurrection and what makes her turn off the fridge at night. The threshing machine […]

London, All Change

Everything has moved around or changed out of recognition Built on the site of the old Bermondsey Abbey, the Bermondsey Market was a thing of wonder, sprawling into the backstreets and surrounding warehouses. You have to get up very early on a Friday morning to go there, and even many Londoners have no idea it’s […]