No Post Today…

…because I just discovered I urgently need another eye operation. It will take place first thing tomorrow, so no blog from me. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible, depending on what happens. I guess I won’t be seeing Star Wars at the weekend.

London’s Best Shops: Fopp


In this series I’m not including any of the shops that usually go into glossy travel magazines, the ones which are meant to typify London, because they don’t. Lobb’s and Lock’s and Berry & Rudd and Smith & Co are beautiful and evocative time warps, but I’ve never met anyone who has shopped in them […]

Outsiders & Eccentrics: London On Film


After finishing ‘Film Freak’ I realised that the book was more or less a requiem for popular British film, and that the only future for a national cinema seemed to lay in arthouse independents or films selling ‘Englishness’ to overseas audiences. Since then, all that has come to pass, with even the delightful ‘Paddington’ films […]

Victorian London As You’ve Never Seen It


I get quite hot under the collar when writers who set their books in the past make fundamental mistakes. Two that spring to mind are a terrible novel about Victorian London by an American mid-Western author who apparently hadn’t noticed that the nation’s currency once consisted of pounds, shillings and pence (she had her hero […]

A Home Of Your Own Part 3


London is filled with hidden studios, warehouses, schools and chapels that people with imagination colonised before the property boom. One set of light industrial  buildings near me had been turned into homes by a group of old hippies and creatives who had remained through the decades in a kind of collective-living environment, so we moved […]

A Home Of Your Own Part 2

Penthouse apartment in Albert Dock, King's Cross, London

So we found we’d moved into what appeared to be the business class lounge of a space station. At the time of moving in there were no buildings to break the view right across London – you could see almost to the airport. A blank minimalist household proved stunning in summer but bleak in winter. […]

A Home Of Your Own Part 1


I don’t believe that writers have to live in lighthouses or stone cottages overlooking the sea in order to work. Being an inner-city lad I’m used to sirens, loud music, the man with Tourette’s next door bellowing his head off, all sorts of interruptions, road drills, barge hooters  and general random yelling. But it’s important […]

London’s Forgotten Streets


‘Riceyman Steps’ by Arnold Bennett (1923) is a tough read, being relentlessly downbeat until a faint ray of light at the close. It concerns the final year in the life of Henry, who keeps a second-hand bookshop in Clerkenwell area (the steps are still there although most of the houses have gone – they used to […]

London’s Best Shops: Blade


Considering Bloomsbury is an area of London long associated with writers, it has surprisingly few shops connected with the trade. Thankfully it has the excellent London Review Bookshop (with its rather hidden basement) but why, for example, is there no paper shop? It’s hard to find washi, the japanese paper products you get all over […]

Big Day Out


Yesterday, Saturday 22nd October, unseasonably warm, a quiet Saturday in London. Well, not quite. We started the day in a craft fair just a short walk away. The usual unimaginative selection of scarves, jewellery and knick-knacks managed to be decorative but not useful or original. Unfortunately the stands were overshadowed by the venue, a graceful church […]