London

The Marble Arch Mound

I normally have a certain admiration for pointless follies and architectural foolishness. However, this story features something far less loveable. Oxford Street has for a long time attracted a rougher clientele than Regent Street or Bond Street. As its fortunes declined into discount stores new ways were sought, most of them misguided, to bring back foot […]

A Garden Of One’s Own

It’s the only large Central London park I’ve never been inside, and it’s just two miles from our home.  To be sure, there are other spots missing off the Fowler Patented Scrutinizing Map of London but this is the largest unknown territory. Buckingham Palace Garden, 39 lush acres lying behind high spiked walls, magically screens […]

My Week In Media

Blast From The Past Back in a Soho studio today for the first time in ages – subterranean, chilly, scruffy and a bit wonderful – for a radio show about books and old Soho with producer/writer Des Burkinshaw, who also whipped up a terrific theme for an imagined Bryant & May series. I’d forgotten how […]

Will The Thrill Of Going Out Go Out?

A 1920s advertisement had a headline that began; ‘If you go out these days – and who doesn’t? you’ll want to enjoy…’ The idea of ‘going out’ is a peculiarly complex one for Londoners, attached to the idea of being entertained for the evening. It is inextricably woven with sex and drink, bad behaviour and […]

Press Clippings From Hell No.1

An odd article in the New York Times grabs my attention today. A man who runs an online spectacles company has been threatening to rape and murder customers who complain about the poor quality of his sunglasses. The 6′ 5″ Ukranian admits he may have a bad attitude. An older clipping is sent by a […]

A Letter From London

You see it everywhere; the sign that reads ‘Welcome Back’. The pubs, shops and restaurants are open for outdoor dining only, the vaccination scheme is working and the West End has gone through an unimaginable transformation. In just eighteen months central London has changed out of all recognition. It has become a semi-derelict inner city […]

Why Oxford Street Is Doomed

Before Covid, the UK had 30% more shops than it needed. London’s Oxford Street is, I suppose, still one of the world’s most famous shopping streets. It was once filled with luxurious department stores housed in grand buildings visited by all, but economic downturns, the end of emporia like Bourne & Hollingsworth and Marshall & […]

Abney Park Cemetery

Those with long memories may recognise the above photograph, as the angel featured is on the cover of ‘Darkest Day’. My last post mentioned this non-conformist cemetery in Stoke Newington’s main shopping area. At its centre is Europe’s long-standing non-denominational chapel, currently derelict. It sets the tone for the mossy, damp, gloomy yet distinctly urban […]

‘It’s A Sin’: Dying Of Loneliness

Russell Davies’ ‘It’s A Sin’, his five-part drama about AIDS in 80s Britain, will probably become the definitive look at the period. It’s a big hit and I can see why. Davies is brilliant at connecting with the young and keeping things warmly human. However, it’s not ‘Angels in America’. It’s issue-led soap opera rather […]

Where Not To Live In London

It’s happening everywhere, of course; the scent of money attracts rushed construction that destroys neighbourhoods. But trust London to make it more egregious than in, say, New York. A few weeks ago I went for a walk through an area I’ve not visited for a while. Nine Elms is not a neighbourhood. It lies between […]