London

The Grey City Gets Greener

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Despite the fact that our former mayor lost interest in tackling London’s frequently horrible arterial pollution, the capital remains the greenest city in what is already an astoundingly verdant country. It’s something you tend to forget until you come home from – well, almost anywhere else. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve chosen to […]

London’s A Liar

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Regular readers will be aware of the respect I have for The Londonist, one of the capital’s most quirky (and relentlessly perky) sites, and one which will direct you deeper into the world of obscure specialist London websites, a wormhole from which you may never escape. But  it’s been bothering me for a while that those […]

Rough On The Street

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I’ve written about street problems and rough sleeping a few times, most notably in ‘Disturbia’, in ‘Plastic’ and now in the next Bryant & May novel. The statistics are alarming and show just how close people in debt are to rough sleeping. A lost job, a missed payment and you can be out. Once you’re […]

‘I wish to protest most strongly about everything’

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So ran a letter in the Telegraph once. But London does love a good protest. Every weekend there’s a march, and there always has been as far back as I can remember. From Aldermaston to the Poll Tax, we’ve taken to the streets whenever we feeling strongly about something, and this week it happened three […]

What Makes British Parks So Different?

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British parks aren’t like ones in most other countries. They’re for reflection and thinking, not action and recreation. It’s a measure of Holland Park’s affluence that while other neighbourhood parks have bandstands, Holland Park has an opera company. The neighbourhood’s elegant centrepiece has landscaped gardens with statues and peacocks, an orangery and an ice house. […]

Invisible Ink: Alexander Baron

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It’s hard for frontline war writers to show an objective sensitivity to their subject matter while fighting for their country, but Alexander Baron certainly managed it. He’s one of the most consistently underrated British novelists of WWII. A left-wing author and soldier who read Jane Austen in the bomb-craters of Normandy, he was interested in […]

Final Thoughts On The EU Referendum

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It’s not a legally binding decision but a matter of public debate. MPs can choose not to act. I might consider the Leave option more seriously if it didn’t feel as if a row about EU tariffs got hijacked by a coterie of careerists. I’m more swayed by direct evidence of damage caused by the […]

A Tale Of Two Witches

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Once upon a time, North London’s Camden Town did not exist. There was Kentish Town (Kent-As-Town) above it and the city below, and the connecting coach corridor became a hamlet, then a village. While it was still a village it supposedly became the home of two witches, the Mother Red Cap and the Mother Black […]

The New Tate Has One Great Exhibit

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You realise just how many members the Tate has when most of them are standing in front of you in a queue. Last night I went along to the Southbank’s newest building, the Switch House, for a nose around. The Tate really has a thing for bricks; millions of them form the great twisted flat […]