London

Re:View – ‘Penny Dreadful’

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The title is everything; it gives this series license to be trashy, and God knows all the ingredients are in place. Sky’s cod-Victorian potboiler has immense cheek, a filthy mouth, cauliflower-ear dialogue, endless bouts of de rigeur boring sex, lashings of gore and the odd sublime moment. But we’ll get to that. The idea of […]

London Corners: Underground Waters

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It sometimes seems like Londoners spend half their lives trying to keep water out of their houses. In Scott Wood’s ‘London Urban Legends’ there’s mention of the River Tyburn turning up in Gray’s Antique Market, near South Molton Lane in central London. The basement of the market was originally under six feet of water, the […]

London Corners: Simpson’s, Kettner’s & Rules

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There is only one Simpson’s and it’s not yellow. There used to be two – the other, Simpson’s of Piccadilly was a gents’ outfitters (as they used to be called). It’s the building with invisible glass that became the Waterstones flagship store. Simpson’s-In-The-Strand belongs to a different world, and is at the Aldwych end of […]

Goodbye Mario, And Thanks For All The Tea

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The Star Cafe, Soho, has always been in my life. I went there for a calming cuppa and fry-up before my first job interview, and have taken friends there over the years to do the same thing for them. Mario Forte, rarely found without a cigar in his mouth, worked there all his life too, […]

Where New York Goes, Will London Follow?

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  As uplifting blogs go, Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York doesn’t exactly tick all the boxes. But as a catalogue of what NYC is losing in terms of indie funk, quirkiness and originality it can’t be beaten. The site, here, posts images and stories about various original independent venues which are being forced out of the […]

London In The Dock

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Alan Patrick Herbert should have more readers. He served in two world wars, survived Gallipoli, was a longstanding member of parliament and a social reformer who worked to end outdated divorce and obscenity laws, and was knighted by Churchill. He wrote the lyrics to popular songs and shows, and once highlighted the complexity of the […]

The Second Coolest Address In London

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It’s the second-coolest address in London, although strictly speaking it’s not in London at all. Number 1, The Thames is up for sale. It’s a bombproof, 150-year-old gun emplacement situated half a mile off the Isle of Grain in Kent, and is accessible via a causeway at low tide. At high tide the tower is […]

Towering Infernal

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When architects want to hide the fact that they’re about to do something really awful, they hide their plans by showing you a rendering that makes all the buildings appear to be white. The nonsense above with its pretty little square and a handful of people strolling in the sun is the latest plan for […]

The London Jacks

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From the Victorian era until after WWII, the London Jacks were a popular sight in railway stations. They were charity collection dogs, and continued working even after they’d died. ‘Though dead, Jack is still on duty and solicits a continuance of your contributions in support of his good work for the Orphans’ reads the plaque […]

Will Boris Make The Mount Unpleasant?

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Mount Pleasant has always been the most misnamed place in London. From the 16th to the 19th century it was home to a massive rubbish dump which was finally cleared in 1794 for a grim brick prison, the notorious Coldbath Fields Prison, where inmates were forced to turn treadmills and pick oakum beside the Fleet sewers. It […]