London’s Curiosities Are Quietly Closing Down


  What makes London indefinably special? I’d argue that rather than shopping or nightlife, it’s London’s ability to satisfy the quirkiest of special interests. However, that ability may be in decline, judging by what happened this week to an American friend of mine, Michele, who loves London’s specialist venues and decided to visit a few places […]

Stepping Back In Time 2


If you’re of a certain age, you may associate certain roads in London with things that have long vanished from it. I can’t help thinking of printing presses whenever I’m in Tooley Street or photo libraries in Newman Street, and I still think of dropping trousers in Whitehall. The past is beguiling. We enjoy Sherlock […]

Mornington Crescent: Still Peculiar


To round off the end of the year, here’s a fresh update on one of the first posts I ever made on his blog, which is now – incredibly – seven years old. Mornington Crescent. I blew them up in it, then moved them out of it, but it’s still a great little building. Elderly […]

Scotland Yard’s Black Museum Gets The Public Go-Ahead


I’ve mentioned the possibility here in the past, but now the rumours have been confirmed; Scotland Yard’s so-called ‘Black Museum’, which houses the exhibits from Britain’s most notorious crimes, will go on display once it has found a sponsor and a venue. The renamed Crime Museum is to raise funds because of government cuts. Until […]

Is It Possible To Step Back In Time?


It’s all about opening a window to the past. As cities change they shed their pasts. This was never London’s problem because past and present have always existed together in an ever-changing collision of styles and tastes. One senses that this is now coming to an end as international corporate architecture flattens life from the […]

Eight Odd London Christmas Venues


I know what you’re thinking. It would be dead easy at this time of year to knock together a bunch of obvious choices for Christmas outings, but lately you can’t move without falling over ice rinks and pop-ups and Christmas markets, so here are some odder alternatives. 1. Most Secret Theatre ‘The Railway Children’ is […]

Another London Walk


It’s cold and sunny, so another morning of research takes me through the Square Mile, where several nasty shocks await. First, all around Bishopsgate are vast holes where entire city blocks have been razed, ready to have Tokyo-style skyscrapers dropped in. I hope they keep the alleyways and ginnels that ran between so many of […]

Where To Now, Guv?


It’s no idle boast to reiterate that the London black cab is still the best in the world; new editions have hands-free doors and are the size of your living room inside, like tardises. The drivers may not wear white gloves like they do in Japan, but they’re endlessly entertaining, curious-minded individuals, and talking to […]

The Night Princess Diana Dressed As A Man


It looks like a Victorian coliseum. The Royal Vauxhall Tavern is a very odd pub, and has proudly been so for a very long time – most of my lifetime at least. Bear in mind that you’re within spitting distance of the Houses of Parliament, and the thought of drag queens on ceiling swings singing Gilbert […]

The One Part Of London That Never Changes


Research is often the most enjoyable part of writing a new book, and I realised I needed to walk along the reaches of the Thames – not all of them as there are something like eighteen in the tideway. As it was sunny and mild, I headed across Tower Bridge and down to Dead Man’s Hole, […]