Blog / 2020

Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
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So, after trawling through comments on this site going back some twelve years and stumbled across Snowy's description of a statue of a man in a lead tricorn hat who functioned as a rain gutter on the roof of a London house. He thought it was boring and apologised for mentioning it. If Snowy thinks he's boring, God help the rest of us.) It inspired me to head out into the bitter cold and look for…
28 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
The Arts
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Rowland Emett was an inventor who found fame in the 1950s. He said, ' The first principle in science is to invent something nice to look at and then decide what it can do.' His fussy, whimsical automata were exhibited at the Festival of Britain and became hugely popular. He designed clocks and trams, trains and boats, was a fine cartoonist and creator of kinetic sculpture. Somehow his spindly…
21 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Observatory
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The Old Warehouse 231 Caledonian Road London N1 9RB A Message from Raymond Land: Hullo there. As the Chief of the Peculiar Crimes Unit, London's oldest specialist police division, I've been asked to bring you a message at this very special, magical time of year, when we celebrate the tradition of Christmas. My message is this; Don't touch anything. Usually at this time of the year I would go and…
42 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Film
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We may well look back on 2020 as the year cinema died. The battle between exhibitors and studios reached a head in the pandemic, especially in America where the cinemas remained closed, and ended with Warners shutting theatrical windows and leading the charge to its loss-leader streaming platform. The major studios decided to bottle up their wares and leave them on the shelf rather than accept…
10 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Observatory
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A still from a later edition of 'Crackerjack' and yes, it has blackface cannibals, a standard comic trope based on cartoon clichés divorced from anything real, but still awkward now. I have an ambivalent attitude to nostalgia. Is it fun to look back? Yes. Would I want to live there? No. The Answers 1. George Cole was Sim's ward. He'd had a terrible upbringing and Sim and his wife raised him and…
30 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Observatory
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I'm fed up with popular quizzes about Taylor Swift, Little Mix and Tik Tok. I for one gave up chasing the Yoof vote long ago. I love the young because the remnants of our world are in their hands and I have a feeling they won't screw up this time, but they get enough coverage, so let's go a bit further back for our questions this year. The Questions 1. Alistair Sim is back as Scrooge again this…
55 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
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[I've rewritten one of my favourite pieces on London, of which you'll notice there are a great many on this little site. I thought it was worth revisiting. Coming later this week, a Christmas quiz. I love to watch old London-set films as much for what's going on in the background as the story, from 'The Ladykillers' (1955), which features my neighbourhood back when it was a sooty industrial…
29 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Books
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This selection pretty much sums up my appallingly narrow range of guilty pleasures, although there's not a good film book here as they seem to have fallen out of vogue, and there are no books exploring the back-alleys of British history this time. Scoff First up in Pen Vogler's ' Scoff', a delightful look at foods so ubiquitous that we haven't really bothered studying them much in British cuisine…
7 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Books
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This was the year in which hardbacks really came into their own. Suddenly £18 seemed a reasonable spend on a brand new novel when going out to dinner (remember that?) set us all back an awful lot more. But in these wretched times of political ineptitude, disease, loss and economic betrayals our tastes grow tame. A glance through the window of any large bookstore window reveals the extent of the…
31 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Great Britain
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How The Trent Became England's Border London is not Britain and Central London is not London; it has always been obvious to me that I lead a rarified life in the middle of what has now become the doughnut hole - London is empty at the centre, dense at the edges. The population is moving out from urban centres to coastal towns, and a good thing too. British resorts are in shocking disrepair after…
30 comments

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