A New Take On Capital Crime


After the revelation that gangsta rap videos were helping to reduce gun crime in London by teaching morons to hold guns the wrong way comes this latest twist in fighting crime. It’s been talked about for a long time but has now reached us locally. Officers from Islington, North London, recovered two drones carrying mobile […]

When London Went To The Dogs


It looks like London’s last greyhound stadium will be going soon. Dog racing, which proved hugely popular from the late 1920s to the 1940s, is in terminal decline, especial after a scandal in 2006 revealing that old greyhounds were being put down after becoming too old to race. Tracks in Catford, Wembley, West Ham, Clapton and […]

How To Be A Student Again


We’ve all embarked on renovations that take a tad longer than we expected, right? This year we embarked on our flat’s first refurb in 15 years. The only snag – although we moved out at the end of April, it will take until Christmas, or very nearly, to complete, and I’d packed what I thought I […]

12 Things British People Call Each Other


  Tosh 19th cent in the sense of ‘nonsense’, but its derivation as a nickname is less certain, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a diminutive of ‘kosher’, someone who scavenges in the sewers, especially in London during the Victorian era. The word ‘tosher’ was also used to describe the thieves who stripped copper from […]

The Grey City Gets Greener


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


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


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’


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?


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


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 […]