London

Is It Possible To Step Back In Time?

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It’s all about opening a window to the past. As cities change they shed their pasts. This was never London’s problem because past and present have always existed together in an ever-changing collision of styles and tastes. One senses that this is now coming to an end as international corporate architecture flattens life from the […]

Eight Odd London Christmas Venues

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I know what you’re thinking. It would be dead easy at this time of year to knock together a bunch of obvious choices for Christmas outings, but lately you can’t move without falling over ice rinks and pop-ups and Christmas markets, so here are some odder alternatives. 1. Most Secret Theatre ‘The Railway Children’ is […]

Another London Walk

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It’s cold and sunny, so another morning of research takes me through the Square Mile, where several nasty shocks await. First, all around Bishopsgate are vast holes where entire city blocks have been razed, ready to have Tokyo-style skyscrapers dropped in. I hope they keep the alleyways and ginnels that ran between so many of […]

Where To Now, Guv?

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It’s no idle boast to reiterate that the London black cab is still the best in the world; new editions have hands-free doors and are the size of your living room inside, like tardises. The drivers may not wear white gloves like they do in Japan, but they’re endlessly entertaining, curious-minded individuals, and talking to […]

The Night Princess Diana Dressed As A Man

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It looks like a Victorian coliseum. The Royal Vauxhall Tavern is a very odd pub, and has proudly been so for a very long time – most of my lifetime at least. Bear in mind that you’re within spitting distance of the Houses of Parliament, and the thought of drag queens on ceiling swings singing Gilbert […]

The One Part Of London That Never Changes

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Research is often the most enjoyable part of writing a new book, and I realised I needed to walk along the reaches of the Thames – not all of them as there are something like eighteen in the tideway. As it was sunny and mild, I headed across Tower Bridge and down to Dead Man’s Hole, […]

A Tale Of Two Sohos

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A crocodile of tiny tots heads past brothels and strip-clubs to their school playground. Nobody bats an eye. Welcome to Old Soho. London doesn’t have an old quarter, but it once did – Soho was named after a hunting call, and there are plenty of signs around that it was once the home of hunters […]

London Corners: Rahere’s Sandals

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Hospital wards often seem to have obscure names. St Bartholomew’s  is London’s oldest hospital, and still has a Rahere Ward – but who was Rahere? Behind Smithfield is the 12th century church of St Bart’s, and in the chapel is the tomb of Rahere, a tonsured monk who entertained King Henry I as a jester. […]

Saying ‘Non’ To Skyscrapers

Computer generated image of the Triangle tower in Paris

‘You live here?’ said the hot dog seller incredulously. ‘I thought it was only office workers and students.’ This was the response I got from the chap who was preparing my mid-morning coffee at a stall in King’s Cross. ‘Yes,’ I told him, ‘go one street back from the station and you’ll find a kind […]

More London Books

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  I said I wouldn’t cover any more London books because their publication was becoming too frequent, but these three really deserve a mention. First up, Richard Slater’s ‘London People’ is really lovely. He spent five years photographing different ceremonies, celebrations and rituals around London, from an Iranian festival to a druid equinox parade on […]