Ornate wooden library filled with books and readers
Title

The Last Post

Christopher Fowler

A book is forever.

In August 2008, I set up a blog with Simon Moore, the London creative art director I hugely respect, to cover books, films, the arts and - it turns out - to spark impromptu discussions about Britain's collapsing social fabric. OK, that part hadn't been planned but you could hardly avoid it. It was a bit like setting out to interview Melvyn Bragg and finding yourself stuck with Hannibal Lecter.

But the unexpected articles often produced surprising and delightful results. I met one commenter whose mother brought her husband to London to see a model railway constructed in a King's Cross backstreet, and another who was revealed to be one of my favourite missing authors.

We put together experimental writers and unknown artists, republishing their work or getting them started in the first place. Pete Townsend became a fan and offered to give me his old vinyl. I had to admit to him that I didn't own anything to play them on. Many commenters started casually using the message boards, although it went a little far when members of the same household started using it as a bulletin board to look for missing household objects.

Some of us went exploring London's secrets (and pub-crawling along the way) or attended literary events together. We helped move a library via a human chain in Estonia, and I travelled the length of our own country seeking out the arcane and the under-appreciated. We drove to Dracula's castle in Transylvania to check out a book. As you can see, the background fabric to Vlad the Impaler's portrait was dralon, or possibly brushed nylon.

Our final event took place aboard Sir Francis Drake's Golden Hinde in London in August 2022:

Somehow everything always returned us to London...

Necrotic

It was when I realised I could not handle short staircases that my future became apparent. My muscles had wasted away. I suddenly looked like my grandfather. Physical deterioration, accompanied by mental fog. As the illness increased its invasive speed I could no longer keep my head clear enough to work. I needed the time I had left to try and finish a short story, but even that is now in danger of remaining unfinished. Arabic architects are supposed to leave a corner of their work unfinished for Allah.

I had a book I had taken from a hotel. Bookworms had left curlicues through its pages, adding to its beauty. Below, a bookworm cast earlier today.

There is something magical about an unopened novel. There are all those shelves filled with luscious unread books...and now I can't even reach them.

So this is my last post. The blog will remain but be dormant. In the meantime I'm planning to leave thousands of blog pieces and let the the books speak for themselves.

A Book Is A Living Object

Its life can be be infinitely extended or strangled at birth.

It may start lifelong love affairs or wars.

It may simply fail to to ignite with wealthy members of the public and penniless poets alike.

It is a weapon and a companion. Once the words are written down they become real.

The blog is ephemeral, like most newspaper articles. Books are not, because they are physical artefacts. That's my two-penneth, and now it's spenteth.

Hard To Write

It's very hard to write now without falling asleep or forgetting what I was going to say. If there's something I really need to get out I'll put it on Twitter. So you might want to check your old @peculiar feed once in a while. All fun things have to come to an end. I love you all. Except for that horrible old troll - are there any other kind?

There, now you have a smidgen of extra time on your hands, go have fun.

...and read a book.

Comments

diamond geezer (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 19:22

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thanks for 15 years of ephemeral blogposts and a shelfful of books. They will be treasured.

Adam (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 19:34

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thankyou for enriching my life with your stories for the last 30 odd years. You have a rare gift, and I’m so glad you shared it

Stuart (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 19:45

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

It has been a great joy to follow the blog and feel a part of this group albeit one who doesn't comment a great deal. It has been the only blog of this type that I always follow and the breadth and variety of interesting content has been astonishing along with the comments and contributors many of whom have becomes characters in my mind. The Golden Hinde event was great fun alongside the other events I have attended over the years (although little will top singing the Colfe's school song at Gower Street Waterstones with you many years ago on Halloween). You've given me a huge amount of entertainment and reading pleasure over all these years and for that I thank you sincerely. I'll keep an eye on twitter and wish you and your husband peace and love.

Ms. Dale (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 19:48

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I am so going to miss you and your wonderful stories.

Joel (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 19:55

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

wow...knowing this day would come...and casually opening your blog and seeing it is here...truly sucks...not very descriptive or wordy...but that's ok...cuz that's how it feels...sucky...monday to friday, every lunch hr, i would stop by to read what new madness is being discussed...and it was/is a bright spot in my workday...i am under the impression that blogs like this are few and far between...so feel fortunate to have gotten to be a small part of it...thank you...i wish you and your husband stuff...good stuff...good stuff to bolster the shitty stuff...again, thank you

side note: thank you to all of the commenters...it's been a hoot and a half (one must never forget the ever important half a hoot)

Bruce+Rockwood (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 19:55

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Will be thinking of you.

Janet (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 20:01

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

This is my first comment, but I have enjoyed reading your posts since I first came across your books. Thank you for both.

Gary Hart (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 20:05

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for many years of entertainment. And many thought-provoking blogs.
It really has been a great pleasure. Now You and Pete enjoy yourselves.

Chris+Lancaster (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 20:09

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

We love you too, It’s been a gas, and I wish you all the very best.

Paul C (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 20:10

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Terrible news. I really don't know what to say. I think you're a wonderful writer and more importantly a truly fine man whose books will certainly live on.

I must also thank all of the other commentators here for a wealth of book recommendations and scintillating company.
It's really meant a great deal to me over the years esp during the long and lonely days of lockdown.

A very sad day. I wish you peace. Bless you.

Ace (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 20:11

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

A deep sadness Christopher, but tempered with hope. Hope that the remaining journey is peaceful. Understand this --- you leave us with more than words and bits of paper; you leave us with joy. The greatest gift.

"We are such things that dreams are made on..."

Paul (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 20:16

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Since my stroke, the Bryant and May books I can borrow in large-font in my local library have been a delight. Thank you.

Lorraine (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 20:18

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you, for everything. Meeting you on the Golden Hinde was a joy & a long held dream. I hope you realise the sheer joy you have given millions all over the world. May whatever time is left to you be peaceful, pain free & full of the joy of love. You & yours are in my thoughts xx

Helen+Martin (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 20:19

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Other than this I am not active on the interthingy and that trip to the model railway club was a high point of my husband's London trip. As Joel said it's been a hoot and a half. Peace and love forever Chris and Pete.

Mira (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 20:23

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I'm so sorry to lose your new blog entries, your new books, and most of all you. What a delight your books have been in my life. I've recommended them to many friends over the years. This is awful news and I have tears in my eyes. All my best to you, your husband, and your myriad friends. We'll get by without you but it won't be as fun or challenging. You've been a wonderful teacher. Thank you again.

Anna-Maria Covich (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 20:24

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you.
For the effort it took to write this.
For the archive of book and film recommendations (my husband wants to watch as many of your film suggestions as possible. It turns out you have very similar taste).
For writing so many of my favourite books and short stories.
For just being you.
<3

ReetPetite (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 20:27

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Your books have enriched my life and are the only ones I ever reread. Thank you for all the fun and education.

David Aylett (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 20:29

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for everything. From Roofworld on a rainy Sunday in old Foyles, to London Bridge... in hardback too heavy for my arthritic fingers. I absolutely adored Disturbia as I do all London history and trivia. As someone who spends a lot of times around Kings Cross (sounds better to confess these days), I always had a passing hope of bumping into you in a pub, probably a pub in which you asked your husband why the 6ft 4in guy with gnarly fingers was staring at you. I'm sorry I let my Radiotherapy keep me away from your signing at David's bookshop, Letchworth at which you mulled the absence of male readers. I could witter on, but won't hog your bandwidth. Thank you, Chris...

Jo W (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 20:30

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you Chris, for all the words and books and pleasure I’ve had in reading them. When we don’t have you, those volumes will still be on the bookshelf, ready to delve into your wonderful worlds again - Calabash is calling to me.
I’ll never forget the Golden Hind and that last hug. Love and peace to you and Pete. XX

Justine O Donovan (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 20:31

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Love to you and the ones you love. I have read and re read your books, because they are wonderful and bring joy to my life.
Thank you.
You are in my thoughts.

Roger (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 20:32

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I hope I'm not the horrible old troll. There are probably no other kind. Trolls start off neither old nor horrible, but then life happens and they become horrible old trolls without wanting or meaning to.
I'm a late-comer on the blog - I look through your back pages now and then to see what I missed - and am grateful for coming across you as a writer as well as a blogger.
Thank you for the pleasure you have given me and many others.

Elise Mac Adam (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 20:35

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I'm so sorry to read this. I have been a long time reader, but have never posted and I just want to let you know with one more voice how much you and your work means to me... All the way here at the bottom of Manhattan island.

Dean Drinkel (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 20:37

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you Chris - it was a pleasure to work with you a couple of years back when you kindly gave me a short story for my WW1 anthology "Kneeling In The Silver Light" (via Alchemy) - it was also a pleasure way back when we we spent some time chatting in Cannes and subsequently at Fcons or at other BFS events. Thank you for everything !

Karen B. (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 20:43

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for all of the words, and for putting so many of them into books. <3

Jim D (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 20:47

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Go in peace. Thanks and love to you.

Stephen Groves (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 21:09

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you Chris.
STALKY

Karen (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 21:18

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for entertaining and educating me.
Love to you and yours.

Karen

Susan Hekhuis (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 21:27

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for everything. The books, the short stories, the Twitter feed, the hilarity and intelligence hat permeated every thing you’ve written-and I’m grateful for all of it.
Thank you.

Linda M. Young (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 21:28

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for your blog.

Thank you for your books.

Most of all thank you for Arthur Bryant.

Peace.

AndrewS (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 21:37

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I have loved and admired your work from the day I first read roof world (a freedie from the long gone magazine FEAR) have avidly followed you through the years and still fondly have the letter you wrote to me as a young fan boy. Good luck keep going and thank you

Caris Davis (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 21:40

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Hi Chris, first time visitor, used to work with you at MWW way back when … we went to see Phantom of the Paradise w/Jim. You introduced me to National Lampoon, remember bumping into you years later in Soho years later (you were on roller skates). Will surely get to reading more of your stuff in due course (I’m now an antiquarian book dealer) — but for now just wanted to wish you well

Mike Hagon (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 21:41

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Dear Chris

I’ve read every book and short story since Roofworld was published in ‘88. I’ve had the immense pleasure of joining you on your literary adventure. Every time I thought I’d “got you” you made a left turn and pushed your writing into new areas. I love London and you’ve made this grand city breathe and come alive in all of it’s dirty old glory. Suffice to say no other writer has moved me how you have. I treasure each one of your novels in so many different ways. Soho Black, Spanky & Calabash are a part of me. So, thank you from the bottom of my heart for every word you’ve shared with me. You are simply the soul of my London. Thank you.

Joan (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 21:42

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Wishing you all the best Chris, and the strength to get through this. Thank you, thank you!

Mark Pack (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 21:52

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

For many years, one of my birthday treats was to get another Bryant and May novel as an audio book and walk through a new piece of countryside listening. Thank you for so many happy moments - and my thoughts are with you and your husband.

Gary Locke (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 21:59

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you. You've touched us with your wit, curiosity, and insight.

Cheers.

Greg Delaney (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 22:00

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for your books which inspired me to explore parts of London I would not have otherwise visited.

All the best to you and your husband. It's being a wonderful journey you've taken me on.

Bob Green (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 22:14

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Your books have given me so much pleasure and they will continue to do so. Thank you so much.

Corina (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 22:15

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for your wonderful books, blog and twitter messages! You have enriched my life and increased my love of London and England! I don’t know if you are religious but I am and I will be praying for you and your loved ones!

David (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 22:30

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you Christopher for giving we bloggers, years of writing which shows us just how to write informative and entertaining posts. We'll miss them.

Ian Mason (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 22:30

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I'll leave you with the same words that I left you with on the Golden Hind: "Thanks Christopher. Good luck!"

Ayo Onatade (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 22:32

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thanks for all the great books and making me part of the wonderful world of Bryant and May. xxx

James Cameron (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 22:44

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you Chris. Your wonderful books will always take pride of place on our bookshelf. I am forever grateful for your kind advice to a fledgling writer. Praying for your strength. Love, James

Martin Parker (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 22:51

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for your characters, books, blogs, your eternally optimistic humour, your encyclopaedic knowledge and your enthusiasm for life in all its glorious forms. Try not to forget that you are loved by a hugely diverse group of people who wish you well on your next journey. You will not be forgotten.

Melanie White (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 22:51

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for staying with us as long as you could. My heart is a little broken, but I guess everybody's gotta go sometime. I discovered your books only a few years ago and instantly knew I'd found a kindred spirit, one of my tribe. I have been reading Bryant & May on infinite repeat for several years now. I get to the end and start over again. Every time I pass through that landscape, I learn something new, often sending me off to read and research. And I find them strangely comforting, in spite of Raymond Land's best efforts. I can't thank you enough for having the courage and the heart to tell your stories. I will miss your voice, and I'll be grateful to you for as long as I can keep reading and rereading. We'll keep muddling on here as best we can. Care for a sherbet lemon?

Simon Moore (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 23:18

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

It was an honour to have helped you start this and I am proud to cal you a friend