London

What’s On In London?

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As a writer you have to keep your mind alive and fresh, but living in London creates a unique problem; like museums that only display 5% of their treasures, I find I have little time to experience what’s going on in an average London week. Yesterday I decided to have a virtual flick-through and see […]

Chang-Siu And The Blade Of Grass

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Following on from yesterday, here’s a story that was grouped under the banner of ‘horror stories’ when the collection should really have been labelled ‘Stories of the Fantastic’. I wrote it because I like Marguerite Yourcenar’s style of writing, and wanted to catch something of the same tone. See what you think.   Long, long […]

The Slow Death Of A Library

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It should have had a poster in its window: Kids! Read Books Here Without Paying For Them! Instead were just warnings and notices of shorter opening times. A disfiguring red plastic sign had been affixed above the door, information without grace. Libraries always held a sacred place in my heart. They are utilities as necessary as […]

&!*$! Words

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A librarian once took me to one side and said,’ One of the reasons we like you is because you never make the characters use swearwords.’ It was a conscious decision on my part; most swearing is unimaginative (except when spectacularly released by my pal Simon ‘Pottymouth’ Rennie) and too easy. I’ve always taken a […]

Christmas In London: A Permanent Assurance

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It is the writer’s curse to lose topicality; we age, the world changes fast and London becomes unrecognisable. New York is, for good and bad, exactly the same old New York I visited on my twenties, even as New Yorkers complain about chain stores and rents. Finite and boundaried, it has barely changed in the […]

London’s Best Shops: Fopp

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In this series I’m not including any of the shops that usually go into glossy travel magazines, the ones which are meant to typify London, because they don’t. Lobb’s and Lock’s and Berry & Rudd and Smith & Co are beautiful and evocative time warps, but I’ve never met anyone who has shopped in them […]

Outsiders & Eccentrics: London On Film

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After finishing ‘Film Freak’ I realised that the book was more or less a requiem for popular British film, and that the only future for a national cinema seemed to lay in arthouse independents or films selling ‘Englishness’ to overseas audiences. Since then, all that has come to pass, with even the delightful ‘Paddington’ films […]

Victorian London As You’ve Never Seen It

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I get quite hot under the collar when writers who set their books in the past make fundamental mistakes. Two that spring to mind are a terrible novel about Victorian London by an American mid-Western author who apparently hadn’t noticed that the nation’s currency once consisted of pounds, shillings and pence (she had her hero […]

A Home Of Your Own Part 3

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London is filled with hidden studios, warehouses, schools and chapels that people with imagination colonised before the property boom. One set of light industrial  buildings near me had been turned into homes by a group of old hippies and creatives who had remained through the decades in a kind of collective-living environment, so we moved […]

A Home Of Your Own Part 2

Penthouse apartment in Albert Dock, King's Cross, London

So we found we’d moved into what appeared to be the business class lounge of a space station. At the time of moving in there were no buildings to break the view right across London – you could see almost to the airport. A blank minimalist household proved stunning in summer but bleak in winter. […]