London Did It First

Competition between cities is a funny thing. I remembered a terrible, pointless staged TV debate between two young men extolling the virtues of New York and London respectively. The New Yorker went into long intelligently reasoned argument, honed from years of being in debating societies, as to why New York was the ‘better’ city. The […]

Going Home Is Just…Different: Part 2

A sort of posh bingo arcade Our Greenwich day out was not quite aimed at returning to my roots. Most of the houses I and my relatives knew have all been knocked down. Instead we head for the Old Royal Naval College, London’s former centre of maritime activity, because I have never seen its painted […]

Going Home Is Just…Different: Part 1

No longerĀ a place of dirt and danger Today I returned to my birthplace, Greenwich in South-East London. For most off its life is was a cut-off corner of London, awkward to reach at a point where the river broadens and switchbacks to create two traditionally isolated peninsulars, one containing the leafy elegance of maritime Greenwich, […]

I Never Knew That About London Either

There’s a hole at the centre of London’s artistic history, and it’s most noticeable when you walk around the National Gallery. Because just where you think art would be at its richest, at the dawn of the Age of Enlightenment, there’s bugger all. Of course it all comes down to Henry VIII. The Dissolution of […]

Sidelong Glances At The PCU Characters: The Two Daves

When I’m coming up with characters, some turn up simply because they’re needed at that point. I pull elements from the history of pop culture, a few classical allusions and the traits of friends, but the image of the workmen has always been there in my head. I wanted a Greek chorus to react against […]

I Never knew that about London

The London Underground is the oldest in the world, but once it was also bigger in terms of distance than it is now. The district line used to run from Ealing Broadway all the way out to Windsor, but the line was discontinued in 1885 due to lack of passengers. And if the thought of […]

London One Decade Later

A decade ago, in 2010, I was asked by the Daily Telegraph to answer a few questions about London. Here’s what I told them. I’ve annotated those answers for the present day. I thought it would be interesting to compare! Why London? A city is made by its people. My friends and family are all […]

London Is People: When Will They Return?

‘I’ve got my eye on you,’ says landlady Irene Handl suspiciously. ‘You’re always going out.’ ‘I was out and came in again, I don’t call that always going in and out,’ replies Hancock indignantly. There has always been a Traditional British suspicion that people who go out a lot are a bit ‘fast’ and not […]

London Life

I have quite a few London books, a couple going back to the middle of the 19th century. Via these volumes you can see the coverage of our fair city reduce from lengthy chapters to key points – the more obscure legends and stories disappear just as the streets themselves vanish, and we are left […]

Hidden In Plain Sight: The Albany

There are places in London that fail to be noticed because they’re protected not just by wealth but by class. You might find yourself in an elegant street filled with architecturally fascinating houses, but the urge to hurry on is encouraged by private security guards or a look about the place that says ‘You have […]