London’s Other Entertainments

While I was convalescing and unable to fly I spent a little time unearthing secret or lesser-known places tucked away across the city. Upstairs in London pubs, in basements and tunnels, odd societies are surviving, from a secret sketch club under a station to a flaneurs’ lecture class above a pub. I’ve spoken of the […]

Passing Through The Neighbourhood

The above shot of the old King’s Cross station in London is so neat and tidy that it looks like a model. Recently I found another photograph of King’s Cross, where I live. In the forecourt of the station there was once a big dipper – a full, permanent funfair. But the area was not […]

As I Was Saying…

The site is back up! This is entirely down to the uniquely talented creative director Simon Moore, who created the site in its first, most elegant incarnation (I’ve found the pictures we used for that one and I’ll post them next week). Next we’ll pick a new look for the site and get a few […]

What’s The Time, London?

For a city that’s psychologically dominated by a very big grandfather clock* it’s appropriate that clocks and time feature so heavily in the city’s past and present. After all, London is the home of time itself, with the Greenwich Observatory setting Greenwich Mean Time. But there are many other London clocks of note. Big Ben […]

A Week In Esoteric London

Behind the hollowing-out of London, the glass-and-steel boxes of the Square Mile and the architectural uproar of the new railway line Crossrail which has resulted in entire city blocks vanishing overnight, quirky London clings on by its fingertips, surviving in the halls and pubs that haven’t been turned into luxury loft living. This week I […]

Bits Of London That Moved: Temple Bar

  Quite a few bits of London aren’t how they once looked and are in the wrong place. We do it to confuse visitors. One that I’m glad is back is Temple Bar. It was one of the original ceremonial gateways to the City of London, used for grand parades into the city; there had […]

Aspects Of London: The Centre Of Magic

It wasn’t until I started researching magic (with or without the ‘k’) in London for ‘Bryant & May: The Lonely Hour’ (2019) that I realised how central to the world of magic is London. The main problem is that real tangible evidence about magic is highly elusive and often unconvincing – but there’s no denying […]

Aspects Of London: The Writers’ Retreat

‘Literary London’ has become a phrase in itself. Here is a city that has nurtured the world’s greatest writers for centuries, but while hopeful artists go to Paris to paint (the light is several degrees brighter than that of London’s) you never hear of writers going to London to write, because this occupation is associated […]

‘Murder Your Darlings’

From Franz Kafka and Robert Louis Stevenson to Nabokov and Gogol, writers have always wanted to destroy their work. Often their instructions to burn everything after their deaths is ignored. Franz Kafka was famously dismissive of his own writing and wrote a letter to his friend Max Brod saying that he was leaving all his work […]

London Buildings, Good & Bad (Part 2)

So yesterday, a very potted history of how the developers arrived. Ultimately, the greedy inherited the earth. Step forward Julie and Magnus Davey, property developers and, by various press accounts I read, Grade A scumbags who have exploited government schemes and asylum seekers even as they knock down listed buildings. It would be nice to […]