London

New Tickets For ‘First Monday’ Crime In London

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There are crime writing events all around the country, but curiously London hasn’t had many. This is something the lovely people at Goldsboro Books have put right with their First Monday events, which are on their way to becoming London’s key crime writing nights. The event back again on May 9th. The May line up features […]

How London’s Architecture Found A Future

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After WWII, London took a strange turn. Sick of the past, of rubble and dirt and old, it launched an offensive on the future. Unlike other cities such that had sustained massive bomb damage, such as Gdansk, which restored itself down to the last brick, London opted for as-yet untried modernism. The NHS began, modern […]

Young VS Old: An Argument For Urban Life

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I once came out of a Sunday morning screening with a friend who pointed to some little people dressed in hipster clothes next to us and asked; ‘Are they dwarves?’ I replied; ‘No, Sarah, they’re children.’ It was such a rarity to see tots in central London that the mistake was understandable. But in the […]

Nell Gwynn’s Back

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It’s hard to emphasise how important Nell Gwynn once was in English history, as a folk figure, as a rags-to-riches  Cinderella story, as an everywoman and as the first female actor star, she was called ‘pretty, witty Nell’ by Samuel Pepys and was always regarded as a living embodiment of the spirit of Restoration England. […]

Another Hidden London Oddity Is Exposed To The Light

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It seems for each part of hidden London we lose a new one is exposed. First New Scotland Yard’s Crime Museum was finally unveiled (I attended a terrific police lecture there this week) and now the mysterious Mount Pleasant train will be seen by Londoners. The Mail Line opened in 1927 and was the first […]

Another London Landmark Becomes A Chain

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Kettner’s restaurant in Soho was opened by Auguste Kettner, the chef to Napoleon III, and became one of the first French restaurants in London. It boasted among its regulars Lillie Langtry, Oscar Wilde, Agatha Christie and Bing Crosby. Everyone in Soho has a favourite memory of the place. For my business partner’s 40th birthday I […]

Is London Losing Its Views?

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For me, one of the most unspoilt old views of London is one of its least visited – the churchyard of St Pancras Old Church, a site associated with the sons of Bach and Benjamin Franklin, John Polidori, Mary Wollstonecraft, Dickens, Hardy, Byron, Shelley and Gilbert Scott. It may well be the oldest site of Christian […]

London Gets An Old Pub Back

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While the trend of emptying out fine old pubs and turning them into flats isn’t slowing, there’s been a lot of talk lately about saving some London pubs by having them listed as assets to the community. Sadly, this hasn’t helped boozers at the city’s heart much because they don’t serve ‘communities’ anymore. But every […]

The ‘Wobbly Grid’: Why London Streets Are So Tricky

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When you see London from the air the first thing you notice is the Thames. The slate roof houses and backstreets echo the swerving shape of the river. The film ‘This Happy Breed’ is set in Battersea between the wars, and shows off London’s road layouts well. But why do they look like so distinctive? The […]

Star Wars & Me

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This is about ‘Star Wars’ from the London end. One evening in 1977 we gathered in the Blue Posts, a strange rockabilly pub at the bottom of Tottenham Court Road that looked like a one-storey plank shack (eventually torn down and replaced with a concrete box housing the Muji store) and grabbed a few beers before […]