London

Today’s Nature Walk: Through Leicester Square

If you’re going to spend a lot of time at home, you’d better learn to love being there. A friend lives in a flat so small that she puts her laptop on her draining board. Can we do this for over a year without going crazy? Not many of us live in the centre of […]

London Without Its Londoners (Updated)

  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 […]

What’s Your Background?

  [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, […]

Fowler’s Miscellany III

Now, Where Did I Put That Masterpiece? Cambridge University Library has announced that two notebooks filled by Charles Darwin have been missing for 20 years. One of them contains the 19th Century scientist’s famous Tree of Life sketch, exploring the evolutionary relationship between species. They were ‘miscatalogued’ but academics reckoned they sort of knew where they were. […]

The Battle For London’s Character

The Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London’s East End has been in existence in some form or other since the 1570s and has been going like the clappers ever since. Here were forged the bells of St Pauls’, Bow Bells, the great Big Ben bell itself, America’s Liberty Bell and many grand bells supplied throughout European […]

Book Mooching In London

It’s my all-time favourite pastime, ingrained in me since I was about 5 years old. Book mooching involves wandering the London streets looking for secondhand bookshops, chatting to the people who sell books and spending too much money on them. My childhood bedroom was filled with books salvaged from dustbins and borrowed from friends, books […]

London Is Not What It Was (And That’s A Good Thing)

‘If you ‘go out’ – and who doesn’t these days? – you’ll need this.’ So begins one popular 1940s travel guide. The concept of ‘going out’ seems relatively recent in the UK, which explains a hell of a lot. In 1952 a gentleman named John Metcalf decided to produce a book about London with a […]

Another London Walk Part 2

In the face of so much change, it’s pleasing to the senses to wander into a church and find it still intact after over a thousand years. At least some places were built to last. Lurking behind the dust-mote beams in St Bartholomew the Great, in the south transept of the Square Mile’s extraordinary priory […]

Another London Walk Part 1

The last few days of fine late summer weather have lured me out to look around at the streets. One walk sends me through half a dozen surprising London churches, another gets me along the Thames and a third passes through the alleyways of Clerkenwell and the Square Mile. I started wondering: How can a […]

London Bridge Isn’t The Only One Falling Down

Google ‘London Bridge’ and see what comes up. When I was researching the 19th Bryant & May book ‘Oranges & Lemons’, I started branching off on my hunt for unusual corners of the city’s history, and realised that I was storing ideas for another book which would become the next novel, ‘London Bridge Is Falling […]