London Tough


It’s said that if a girl can look good in London, she can look good anywhere. Everything conspires against her. We have the hardest water I’ve found anywhere in the world. It silts pipes and cracks skin. We have key hotspots of overcrowding (tip: avoid the Piccadilly Line between Russell Square and Piccadilly during rush […]

The Mystery Of Sherlock’s Home


The Independent is becoming a great uncoverer of odd stories. Today they reveal that the address of Sherlock Holmes, 221b Baker Street, together with two valuable properties near Hyde Park and a mansion in Hampstead worth a total of £147m, are linked to notorious Kazakh businessman Rakhat Aliyev, the son-in-law of Kazakhstan’s President. He was accused of […]

Where Would You Rather Live?

Public or private 2

      Two new apartment buildings perfectly illustrate London’s housing dilemma, and help explain what’s going so wrong. Look at these two photographs and decide which building you would prefer to live in. Without thinking, I automatically chose the brick building. I was surprised to discover it’s social housing. The one on the left is […]

London’s Home Movies


In his head, Arthur Bryant still sees London as it was; his memories were based on my mother’s, as she was living in town working as a secretary, and had vivid recall of life around her. Now the British Film Institute is rolling out a huge project called Britain on Film which includes home movies, […]

At Home In The Old Pubs Of London


I love kids, but feel their parents shouldn’t think they can go anywhere. Which brings us to pubs. Research today points out that less than 1 in 10 pub visits are for the beer, and that most landlords now make their money by running family-friendly restaurants. Is the day of the ‘quick pint’ over? In […]

The Story Behind The Sand Men


If you care to cast your orbs to the far right of this page, to the bit no-one ever looks at (I assume) you’ll find the first chapter of my next novel posted (hopefully) for your delectation. Those who care for the futurologist Mr JG Ballard may especially enjoy the book, but actually but it’s […]

The New World Cities Are For Workers Only

Commuters on London Bridge

It’s like playing Sim City for real – how do mayors attract companies to their working hubs? In Europe the question is taking on new resonance as workforces gets used to handling dual-city living, not always through choice; I have colleagues split-shifting between London and Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels, Madrid and Cologne, even London to […]

Poems About The Thames


I’m researching the history of the Thames, and along the way looking at poems about it. There’s a long and illustrious history of poetry written for the river that is ‘too dark to lack a god’. Oscar Wilde, always good with colours, had a couple of Thames poems, this one repeating the colour yellow;   […]

A London Miscellany

Acid Bath Murderer 1949

The upside to living in what has now become the world’s most popular city is that new things are opening all the time. In October, Scotland Yard’s so-called ‘Black Museum’ – a phrase they are keen to distance themselves from, except that here at Fowler Towers there are long memories – opens to the public […]

T & Biscuits


You know how awful most souvenir T-shirts are? Well, the lovely folk at The Londonist are bidding to change all that. They’re currently selling very London Ts that are actually sweet and funny. Try these for size, from their stockist, More T Vicar, here;