London: Destruction & Reinvention

KX Chaos

I try to be upbeat about the Mayor’s transformation of London into an Oligarch Moneypit, but sometimes it’s hard. After more cyclists were maimed on London roads last week, the half-hearted new cycle lanes that peter out after a few metres, forcing riders into traffic, feel symptomatic of what happens when government planners step in […]

London After Dark


                        My friend Michele alerts me to some evocative photographs of London after (very dark) darkness falls back in the 1930s, when there were fewer health and safety concerns about lighting and neon was not used to outline buildings. The link takes you to […]

The Most English Films Ever Made


The rubbish line-up of the Oscars this year set me thinking, not that I set any store by these awards; any supposed system of excellence that could ignore ‘The Wizard of Oz’, ‘Singing In The Rain’ and ‘Vertigo’ isn’t worth bothering with – If you were to look down the list of most popular British […]

So Long, Soho


Londoners should never be nostalgic about their city. We know that if you go away on holiday for a fortnight you’re liable to come back and find your favourite pub gone. It’s just the way things work here. I can’t think of any city that has changed so much, so consistently, over the last sixty […]

Everyone Wants To Do Something Silly Sometimes

Waterloo station

Thanks to social media, it’s now possible to stop time. Although not for any useful reason. Or not so that everyone even notices (check out the guy behind the counter):

Art Goes Down The Tube


Back in the 1920s the London underground tube system was updated from its dark-wood Victorian designs and enjoyed a unified modernist look that lasted for the next 60 years – clean lines, matching tiles, elegant lighting and streamlined simplicity. By the time the 1980s arrived, the wheels were really starting to come off the system. […]

The London Of ‘Paddington’


I didn’t grow up with Michael Bond’s Paddington Bear stories, and being largely immune to the appeal of sugar-rush candy-coloured ADD-afflicted children’s films, I tend to give kids’ fare a swerve. I’d also struggled with director Paul King’s previous fantastical film, ‘Bunny and the Bull’, which presented London as a cut-and-paste Blue Peter model of cardboard and […]

Ton-Up London: The Ace Cafe

Ace Cafe

My father loved motorbikes; the idea of ‘doing a ton’ and then stopping at the Ace Cafe was ingrained in him. The art deco cafe had opened in the thirties, was bombed in the forties and reopened in the fifties. It became the destination for anyone who loved motorbikes, a ‘Back To The Future’-style hangout […]

London’s Curiosities Are Quietly Closing Down


  What makes London indefinably special? I’d argue that rather than shopping or nightlife, it’s London’s ability to satisfy the quirkiest of special interests. However, that ability may be in decline, judging by what happened this week to an American friend of mine, Michele, who loves London’s specialist venues and decided to visit a few places […]

Stepping Back In Time 2


If you’re of a certain age, you may associate certain roads in London with things that have long vanished from it. I can’t help thinking of printing presses whenever I’m in Tooley Street or photo libraries in Newman Street, and I still think of dropping trousers in Whitehall. The past is beguiling. We enjoy Sherlock […]