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;          

After Lost Rivers, Vanished Neighbourhoods


In 2011 I wrote the foreword for a book called ‘London’s Lost Rivers’ by Tom Bolton. Unlike other books on the subjects it was the first comprehensive walker’s guide, and showed you how to trace the path of the rivers overground. Along the way there were tidbits about the rivers themselves – but as a […]

How London Design Goes Wrong


Why is it that good design ideas in London so often get screwed up? I think of the astoundingly ugly Orbit Tower in the Olympic Park, which they’re now thinking of sticking a slide inside to encourage someone to like it, or the grotesquely disproportionate, naff statue of the kissing couple in St Pancras Station, […]

London’s Second-Biggest House Faces A Dilemma


Buckingham Palace is the biggest house in London. What’s the second biggest? That would be the Grade II listed house Witanhurst in Highgate, once owned by Sir Arthur Crosfield, the English soap and candle magnate, who had the place designed in Queen Anne style. He chose Witanhurst, a combination of the old Anglo-Saxon words “witan” […]

London Gets A Creepy New Street


The SF novel The Day of the Triffids has links to Hampstead in North London, and is set to be celebrated with a new road name, for an alley that will be opened after being shut for years. Author John Wyndham’s 1951 book tells the story of how the ambulatory poison-spewing plants take advantage of a […]

Bonkers London Ceremonies

Beating the Bounds 2

January 6th The Royal Epiphany The Queen and the Yeomen of the Guard hand out three purses symbolising frankincense, gold and myrrh to the poor of the parish. The three wise men’s gifts symbolise birth, life and death. It’s also the day that Baddeley cake is handed out. The failed actor Robert Baddeley bequeathed money […]