Why Does London Have Amusement Arcades?

In King’s Cross, opposite the railway station, there once stood a big dipper, and this wooden roller coaster was surrounded with funfair booths. Today there is still an amusement arcade on the opposite corner at the end of Euston Road. In Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus there are still amusement arcades filled with fruit machines […]

No Post Today…

…and no 1st Monday Crime night for me either. On Saturday night I contracted a virulent form of food poisoning and am laid low with fever, shakes and throwy-uppy thing…sorry for no-show – beyond my control unforch.

London Gets A Design Evolution

The London Underground kept its original look for so many years because of Frank Pick, the unassuming CEO who put together a small team to modernise its design. Frank had no training in art and design, but he knew some people who did; typographer Edward Johnston, whose graceful typeface is still used today, Harry Beck, […]

London’s Darkest Spot

Whenever a TV shows wants us to see the full horror of Victorian poverty, they shoot a sequence at the back of Somerset House, which they dress to look filthy and dangerous. We tend to think of the London poor in terms of Henry Mayhew, whose columns brought us ‘London Labour and the London Poor’, […]

Reasons To Love The British Library

It’s not the grandest of buildings. It’s designed to be low-profile, to keep open views to the gothic St Pancras, a building that was almost torn down. The BL is friendly and usable, a bit municipal but oddly cosy. And it is home to…deep breath…60,000,000 patents, 13,950,000 books, 8,000,000 stamps, 6,000,000 audio recordings, 4,347,505 maps, 1,607,885 music scores, 824,101 serial titles, 351,116 manuscripts […]

You Think This Year Was Turbulent?

    Watching the parliamentary fallout of the Brexit vote, which can be read as a disaster of its own making or accidental proof of democracy reasserting itself in London, I wondered what was happening in our fair city during the same year in other centuries. We can take it as read that there were […]

Ideas On A Conveyor Belt

Having one good idea is not enough For me one of the most powerful films this year was a documentary. ‘McQueen’ did much more than look at the life of Lee Alexander McQueen CBE, the bad boy of fashion who hailed from Stratford East and tore down the class/taste barrier with his iconic shows. He […]

Meanwhile, At The Peculiar Crimes Unit…

I use real locations for most of my stories. It helps to get some sense of size and space when you have a lot of people moving around, so that the reader can visualise events more easily. Early Bryant & May readers will know that I used to have the PCU occupying the upper part […]

London Buildings: The Talk Of The Town

On the corner of Charing Cross Road and Leicester Square (actually Cranbourn St) an overbearing and rather ugly venue was built at the turn of the 19th century to be used for circus performers and variety acts. In the very first variety show Little Tich and Charlie Chaplin appeared – it was always to feature […]

Tricky New Year London Quiz Answers

Here are the answers to eleven odd questions about London/ 1. On which London monument do pearls turn to diamonds, and why is it turning blue? Big Ben. On the background design of its faces, working outwards. When it’s finished being renovated its hands will be blue, as they once were. 2. There’s a man-eating […]