London Endures

Westminster rain

The London Mayor Sadiq Khan is right; terror attacks are part and parcel of living in a big city and you have to be vigilant to combat the dangers. Donald Trump Jr  just launched an attack of his own on Kahn (on Twitter, this presidency’s preferred mode of communication for the conducting of ill-informed dialogue). Kahn […]

The Bad Boys Are Back


There’s a running gag in the Bryant & May books about Bryant and Gilbert & Sullivan that reaches its head in the the new novel out next week, ‘Wild Chamber’. I’m drawn to partnerships, the push and pull of people who can’t live with or without each other, and whatever one thinks of their music, […]

‘London. It Begins With Me And Ends With Me.’


That’s a quote I used from an anonymous teenager who was quite rightly pointing out that we each only get to see our own slice of a place in a particular time. The buildings remain in one form or another and become fascinating to us because we know they have seen other eras. As I […]

Splashing Out In London


It’s easy to forget that England is a temperate zone, and so London, at its centre, gets no real extremes of weather. You can get sunburnt in Devon and see snow in Scotland but most of us are within a steady range of temperature. None of which explains our passion for open-air swimming. London has […]

Seeing London Through Someone Else’s Eyes


I have European guests staying with me at the moment, and each day they set off across the city to experience it before returning and describing what they saw. Of course it’s spring so they’re getting four seasons in one day, which is driving them mad, but it’s interesting to note what else they love […]

Living In ‘The London Bubble’ Means…

A giant soap bubble floats past the Houses of Parliament in central London October 29, 2012.  REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (BRITAIN - Tags: SOCIETY POLITICS CITYSPACE)

*uses West Country accent* ‘So what’s this ‘London Bubble’ we’ve been reading so much about then?’ It’s a state of mind that clouds us in the capital and stops us from thinking properly. It’s the thing we enter when we open the Evening Standard property pages, look at an article praising a stack of minuscule […]

Losing London’s Old Adverts


The old advertisements of London reveal a ghost map of a city long vanished. There’s already a website called ghostsigns that’s dedicated to painted wall advertisements on London buildings. Host Sam Roberts conducts walking tours and has a huge knowledge base of where all these signs are or were. He also projects light signs onto buildings […]

Mr Gay’s London Is Back In ‘The Fatal Tree’


Jake Arnott’s ‘The Fatal Tree’ is a ripping new 18th century yarn of London lowlife on the make and take, trying to stay one step ahead of the Fatal Tree itself (the gallows of Tyburn). It uses the story of  Jack Sheppard and more importantly the lesser-known Edgworth Bess, his woman, who led a ‘wicked […]

The Many Lives of Sweeney Todd

Sweeney Todd's Barber's Chair

An odd little play that was reborn in Tooting, South London, has now become a hit in New York, set in a perfect reproduction of Harrington’s Pie and Eel Shop, where the audience gets splashed with shaving foam and Kensington Gore. Tooting Arts Club produced ‘Sweeney Todd’ late last year, staging it in a genuine […]

London Otherworld


Certain cities are dreamworlds. For me, Tokyo, Bangkok and New Delhi fit the bill, although I haven’t been to Shanghai, which I imagine would really do it. London has a special sense of otherness, because it is still a collection of boroughs, villages and wards, despite what developers try to do to it. There’s no […]