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

Andre (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 23:39

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

The blog, the books, and yourself. Simply amazing. Thank you.

Joyce Bowler (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 23:41

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you very very much for all your writing. xx

Lisa (not verified) Wed, 18/01/2023 - 23:49

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for books that make me consult maps, atlases and dictionaries. Books that make me want to travel or spend days in the library. The stories continue, each time I read. Currently enjoying Peculiar London. Thanks for all the words and ideas.

Jackie (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 00:31

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for being so wonderful

Julia Thorley (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 00:57

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you. That is all. x

Sarah (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 01:02

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you so much for all the joy you have given us all over the years. And thank you especially for the gift of Mr Bryant and Mr May. Lots of love A Reader x

Tricia Katz-Moran (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 01:28

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for all the history you have shared. Thank you for being a kind person (especially to my husband Craig). Thank you for the enjoyable hours of reading you provided. And I will always read a book.
Love and light,
Tricia

Mike Mayak (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 01:29

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Christopher, thanks you for all the wonderful words!

Peggy Allen (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 01:41

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for all the fun.

Andrea Yang (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 01:48

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you Mr. Fowler You have given me much joy with your books, blog and tweets. I will reread your books and keep recommending them to others. Wishing you peace.

Roberta (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 02:02

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

It was an honor to accompany you on part of your journey as a writer and a human being. Thank you.

Jee Jay (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 02:03

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Am halfway through 'Strange Tide' and have read six of your other books as well.
I've enjoyed them all enormously.
Thank you.

E Bush (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 03:18

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you, Chris, for all your wonderful books and blogs, your ideas, your insights, for everything.

Peace to you and Pete as you complete your journey. My love to you as well. I will remember you as I continue to reread Bryant and May and other books.

wayne crich (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 04:28

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for it all!!

Alan Robson (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 04:57

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I read "Roofworld" when it was first published and I've been a fan ever since for lo! these many years. Thank you so much for so many wonderful books.

Love and hugs to you and Pete

--
-Alan

Stephen (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 07:27

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

This blog and your books have carried me through so much these many years. Many has been the day that the promise of a Bryant & May novel lying on my bedside table has provided all the motivation I needed to keep going. Through college, then law school, and these early years of my career, you have provided a constant source of entertainment, escape, and joy.

With every good wish for you and yours, in gratitude for your work and you personally, and in thanksgiving for having stumbled across this blog so long ago, I remain, Sir,

Yours most sincerely,
Stephen A. Brown
Birmingham, Alabama, USA

Simone Ivatts (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 07:40

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you. For so much. Wishing you love and peace.

Tim (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 07:51

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

As a late arrival to the Bryant and May party, I thank you so much for the joy your writing has brought.

My teenage son now looks forward to any car journey we share together as we listen to the B&M Audible versions. The conversations we have based on these enrich us both.

Lilyami (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 08:07

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you so much: the books the blog the life well-lived. Peace be with you.

Rachel Green (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 08:11

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Goodbye, sir. You were loved.

Wayne (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 08:19

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Best Wishes MR F. Thank you for all those years of wonder. You've inspired me and made me more aware of life outside my small world. I'll join up to that twitter thingie so that I can keep tabs on you. I hope the future is at least comfortable for you and that you have time to get some of those remaining Ideas completed.

Peter Eykelenkamp (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 08:22

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Chris, your blog was the first I opened every day. It will be missed. Take good care of yourself and your husband and thank you for all your posts and the wonderful Bryant & May series I am now re-reading. Good thoughts and greetings from The Hague, The Netherlands.

Stephen Dowell (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 09:04

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you.
From City Jitters, through Psychoville (which pulled at an unexpected heart-string reading it after my mum died unexpectedly) and to what ever comes next, one of my favourite writers.

Mike (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 09:18

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Such a sad day. Thank you so much for all your books and words.

Nick (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 09:23

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I replied earlier on Twitter and I still cannot sum up the sadness at the end of an era. This blog is one of the first things I read following my emails at my desk each morning. Relish the joy and insight this blog and your books have brought to me and countless others. You've been awesome.

Val (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 10:09

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Christopher, I had come to believe that you’d be among us forever. Losing you is a tragedy in so many ways. Goodbye, dear man.

Vic (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 10:11

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you. So much to remember you by. Be proud.

Janice (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 10:18

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you, Chris, for this last post and for the wonderful books you are leaving for us and for others who have yet to discover your work and your world.

Your life, kindness and creativity are a continuing inspiration.

Brian Price (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 10:26

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for your brilliant books, Christopher. Rest easy.

Brian Corrigan (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 10:38

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I know a very little of how you feel. I had to give up a loved activity last year as age and infirmity told me to stop. Your public presence will be much missed. I hope you can continue to enjoy your private pleasures.

SteveB (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 11:18

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I’m very glad to be able to tell you how much you brought to my life, in this blog and in your books. So many places, films, books I’d never have heard of otherwise. And always something new and ringing the changes, never standing still.
I guess Arthur is never going to reach Dunwich after all, but he had a good innings.
I send so much love and respect to you and Pete.
Stevr

Simon Brunning (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 11:23

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you so much for everything, Christopher. You will be missed.

Cornelia Appleyard (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 12:15

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thanks for everything - much more than you know, as others have said.
May you enjoy everything you can for as long as possible.

KiwiBookaholic (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 12:41

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Dear Chris and Pete,
Thank you for all you have given us over the years. Your books are a wonder - the Peculiar team are real people, for us, the addicted readers. I've laughed, cried, gasped and occasionally sworn at you for some character you've decided Has To Go. Those grand 'literary' awards books have nothing on great crime writing; and could learn a lot from you - like having real plots! Life in Britain is tough. Your writing has made it more tolerable, even fun, because after 30 years as a Londoner, I 'get' the references, locations and in-jokes. I feel part of your Peculiar Team. Your blog, & its commenters, teach me much about writers, films and what a barmy, gifted and fab man you are. Plus, Pete is a Bloody Good Bloke. My love to you both and thanks. Bookworm munching aside, your work will live on. Bryant and May are now people, not matchbooks. Take a bow, Christopher. You are and will always be seen as, a magnificent writer, who lives Bette Midler's famous quotation that ends with 'Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke!'

Elizabeth Tai (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 12:57

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I'm so sorry I discovered you only in 2022. I wish I had gotten to know you longer and had at least left a few comments. Do rest... your words are a comfort to us all. Thank you for teaching me how to live my life with joy even in the face of difficulties.

Wayne Mook (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 13:08

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you and love to you and yours.

I just watched Men on your recommendation, very weird but excellent (my wife loved it too), toxic masculinity is a part but there is so much more, I enjoyed the Green Man and the Sheela Na Gig, which is shown as not the opposite but different and connected.

Other recommendations of yours, I'm currently travelling with Hilary Mantell and enjoying it, I am seeing Thomas and Wolsey in a different light, so much to read. Thank you for all the books, your own and those you wrote about.

Good luck with the final short story, I hope to read it soon. I'm currently fighting a tale that I wasn't going to write, it's a short story for some friends' anthology due for delivery by the end of the month. Only 10 days crikey.

For some reason I'm reminded I need to get a bottle of Vimto, and I wonder if I can find a book of turnip recipes, I've got my wife a book on Vimto recipes, Marmite and something else, possible Bovril, which links into Bulwer-Lytton The Coming Race.

Sadly I must get back to my day job. I wish you well and send thanks. And good luck and love to all the other readers and commentators here and there, hope the weather is better State side.

Wayne.

Jonathan Oliver (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 13:14

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for everything, Christopher. It's always been a source of joy and pride to me that we got to work together.

Douglas Murphy (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 13:32

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I will profoundly miss your 'voice' here. As a lurker, I thank you.

Rich (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 13:33

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Strangely, I make my way slowly through the books of the authors I love (maybe one or two titles a year) and there are still a number of your books, bought but not yet read on my shelves. You might not be here, but you won't be forgotten.
Thanks again Christopher for the great reads.
Love to you and Pete.

Mary Ann Atwood (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 13:36

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Rest In Peace you incredibly thought provoking, mind expanding, creative man.
Peter, thank you for sharing Chris with us.

Laura (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 13:37

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you so much for Bryant & May and the Book of Forgotten Authors. And for your description of eating a Terry's chocolate orange doughnut the size of a baby which sent me on a doughnut quest never fulfilled. I wish you comfort and an easy road ahead.

davem (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 13:58

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you Chris for everything

Des Burkinshaw (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 14:30

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

So terribly sad to read this. I've just come from being a guest on Dom's Soho Bites podcast to discuss both my latest book, Miniskirts are Murder, but also to chat about the tawdry cult classic, Beat Girl. We discussed Soho, music, books and so on. You came up because Dom found me through you when he requested to use my Bryant & May theme in one of the episodes you did. It's your last post and it was read with sadness over coffee by two people you introduced. By saying nice things online about my books and, like today, playing a part in helping me promote them, you have shown another facet of your generous nature. It's been a pleasure interviewing you and chatting over the years. I shall forever associate you with this and my late mother who went to bed every night listening to Tim Goodman reading the Bryant & May books. I love them so much Chris - they join Wodehouse, Austen and Conan Doyle in that small set of books I'm assured of reading over & over until it's time for me to sign off too.
You forgot to say in your post that authors change lives for the better, permanently. I'm honoured to have met with you for you most certainly improved my life. If this is the time to say, I love you and your work Chris. Thank you for everything.

Silly Sully (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 14:46

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

You leave a part of yourself with us, just as you take a piece of us with you. Always...

Laurie R King (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 14:58

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Sad, and grateful. I am one of the many lives you have touched, and I thank you, for the books and the blog.

Mo (not verified) Thu, 19/01/2023 - 15:01

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I know you only through what you've written. But I'm so glad I got to know you. Your curiosity, knowledge and humour inspire me. And I'll continue to be inspired, over and over again, by all you've written.