Smoke In London

Sometimes on a Saturday, watching tourists lurking on a street like, say, Beauchamp Place, London seems to have the most pointless shopping in the world, unless you’re in the market for a ten-foot high silver propellor or a life-size carving of a horse with a lampshade on its head (I swear I’m not making this […]

Light Up London

We’re finally getting some decent light installations in London (see the one near London Bridge, below) but how much more could we do? Berlin’s Festival of Lights shows how an ordinary street terrace could look, just for an evening. Sure, we live with light pollution but this is a big city and winter’s low lighting […]

Those Pubs In Full

I’ve been asked to provide a list of the London pubs that appeared in ‘The Victoria Vanishes’, which seems like a good idea to me. I can’t guarantee they’re all still there, though. British boozers often occupy prime locations on street corners and have two front doors, which makes them ideal for redevelopment into flats […]

The London of ‘Paperboy’

Next month, my memoir ‘Paperboy’ comes out – it’s about a 10 year-old would-be writer growing up in a house without books in South London, and is set in the early sixties. To remind ourselves that the past is not always as rosy as we’d like to remember it, check out footage of these Lambeth […]

Discovering More London

So you’ve been down to the South Bank and walked through Regent’s Park, but when was the last time you truly went exploring in London, from Petticoat Lane to Portobello Road, from Cecil Court to Lincoln’s Inn Fields? It’s too easy to stay within familiar postcodes, and there’s so much fun to be had from […]

Things I Don’t Need In The Year Ahead (But Will Probably End Up Seeing Anyway)

In no particular order; White middle-class authors complaining that they feel as if they are in a minority and are being discriminated against. Try this; grow up and write better. Private members’ clubs filled with demented screaming media folk with ironically flattened hair. (They usually have faux-fifties wallpaper and offer comfort food at prices that […]

The End Of The Cafe Royal

From Whistler to Wilde, from Augustus John to Aubrey Beardsley, through sips of absinthe and clouds of cigar smoke, the Cafe Royal in Regent Street played host to London’s artistic elite. But after years of slow decline it’s going, to be turned into yet another upmarket hotel. Its furniture goes under the hammer on January […]

Why The Inland Lighthouse Will Remain A Mystery

Last night I walked past Dick Whittington’s stone in Archway – the milestone, irretrievably tied in with its panto image of boy and cat, is framed inside a wrought-iron fence – and thought about the icons we pass every day that have no historical significance. One of these is the King’s Cross lighthouse, now sadly […]

London’s Weirdest Shops

Well, it wouldn’t be so weird in another time or place (Cornwall, the 1920s?) but every time I pass it I ask myself; what the HELL is a really old-fashioned ship’s chandler’s doing just behind Tottenham Court Road? I mean, it’s bloody miles from the sea, and who in London’s West End needs to buy […]

Why Dark Mysteries Are Popular

I knew it all along. There had to be a reason why we’re attracted to tales of violence. It turns out that the oldest genetically identifiable nuclear family met a violent death, according to analysis of remains from 4,600-year-old burials in Germany. Researchers reckon that the broken bones of these stone age people (mum, dad, […]