Monthly Archives: November 2019

The Pageant Everyone Takes For Granted

Referenced in Pepys’s diaries, the Lord Mayor’s Show, London’s grand annual parade, just passed its 804th year. The procession kicked off at 11am from Mansion House with cadets, carriages, floats and bands moving through the streets. Over in Paternoster Square and St Paul’s there were funfairs, art installations and street theatre. The parade ended with […]

The Buildings We Don’t Discuss

We tend to ignore the things we don’t like. Whenever London is depicted in a tourism brochure, there are photographs of churches and palaces, guards and statues with nary a modern building in sight. A city is defined by its uniqueness, not by another anonymous glass box from Richard Rogers. The Hilton Hotel at Heathrow’s Terminal […]

Wish I’d Dunnit

A review of a whodunnit by someone who writes them.   NO SPOILERS At first glance Rian Johnson’s film ‘Knives Out’ is a throwback to the Golden Age of the paperback whodunnit, complete with a baroque mansion, numerous dubious relatives awaiting the reading of a will and a freelancing detective who’s helping out the slower-witted […]

‘Evening All!’

Our image of the police is now informed by riot footage as much as anything else. The humble copper has been through a lot of changes in my life so far. The earliest one I can remember is the TV show ‘Dixon of Dock Green’, which began in 1955 and ran in the UK for […]

And Here’s What I Ate Last Night

This is the first photograph of a woman ever taken, certainly that has survived, and dates from 1840. Photography has now vanished due to its ubiquity, paradoxically  rendered obsolete by being unfettered. Like most people of my age I have a couple of shoeboxes with old photos that now belong to a different era, and […]

That Dictionary Exploded

Two entries ago I posted a photo of my 1783 dictionary (now sadly falling to bits through over-thumbage) and you asked me to expand the page-view for a better nose-around. At least I think you did before jumping off into a heated discussion about Arabic jinns, Hodnidods & Pegotty Wing-Wings on the same comments page (I […]

The Secret Life Of Books

It’s like having a sports car that no-one else is allowed to drive. I’m probably hurting my eyes, I thought, reading under the bedcovers with the worst torch my father, who had always been a cheap shopper, had ever bought. Having ploughed through every book in the house (not as hard as it sounds) I […]

Well Defined

I found this old book at the back of a cupboard. I’m pretty sure that I didn’t pick it up in 1787, which is the date inside the cover. It’s an English dictionary published by Northfleet, but like all books of the period it’s scant on publishing information inside. This is where I get all […]

The Hiding Of London

Buildings which were once open have now shuttered. Much of London has traditionally been hidden from view, but the city’s increasingly open-door policies have not made much more available for visitors see. There are a vast number of buildings to which no access is permitted, and sections remain under secure supervision thanks to the threat […]