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

H (not verified) Sat, 21/01/2023 - 02:01

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for the magic of Bryant & May and for so much more. Love to you and Pete.

H (not verified) Sat, 21/01/2023 - 02:29

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Is there anything we can do for you and/or Husband Pete?

Maria H (not verified) Sat, 21/01/2023 - 08:55

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for the excitement, scares, laughs and sheer joy you have given me. Your books are among my most precious possessions and I'll be rereading them for years and thinking of you, dear Chris. Feel the love.

Lynn Saull (not verified) Sat, 21/01/2023 - 10:23

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I love your books and blogs. I will miss them.

DH (not verified) Sat, 21/01/2023 - 12:17

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I hadn't visited the blog since before the pandemic. For whatever reason it crossed my mind yesterday on a long train journey, and I thought I'd use the time to catch up with everything. This has, therefore, come as a profound shock to me.

Thank you, Christopher. I picked up the paperback of Full Dark House in 2005 as a 20 year old looking for a holiday read (having fallen out of love with reading in my later teenage years). It had me hooked, and made me see my home city in a new and fascinating light. I haven't stopped voraciously reading since, including all the Bryant and May's, and a large part of that is thanks to you, all those years ago, reminding me of the pleasure and learning books can bring.

I have even ended up working in publishing (and once upon a time fought a valiant but doomed effort to bring your audio rights to Transworld so something could be done about getting the missing editions recorded and those bloomin' covers consistent!), meeting my partner and having my son along the way. So thank you to you too, Arthur and John.

I hope whatever time you have left is comfortable and filled with love. I will miss you.

Bee (not verified) Sat, 21/01/2023 - 12:20

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for all the books, and their nspiration, shocks, challenges, laughs and comfort . Thank you for everything. Going to have a little cry now and then go look for a favourite - probably Calabash and lose myself in it again. Love and best wishes.

Mary (not verified) Sat, 21/01/2023 - 13:06

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Your books have left me crying with laughter and pathos. You are an exceptional talent who I found far too late in my life. I wish you peace.

Time flies, suns rise and shadows fall. Let time go by, love is forever. (Old sun dial) -(also applies to books)

Tony (not verified) Sat, 21/01/2023 - 14:09

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

See you on the other side….in love

jan (not verified) Sat, 21/01/2023 - 15:20

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for all of the books and all best wishes on the tweets ahead. Love and peace xx

Taknee (not verified) Sat, 21/01/2023 - 17:25

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I have loved your books. I have loved your sensibility. Your stories have made a huge difference in my experience of
British life and its soul. God speed and thanks, Anna

Peter (not verified) Sat, 21/01/2023 - 19:02

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you, Christopher, for introducing me to Bryant and May who have accompanied me on many of my journeys to London discovering new places and seeing the city in a different light in the process! I was first introduced to Full Dark House by accident or by chance. I was in London and going to see the original production of Mary Poppins at the Prince Edward Theatre. As showtime was still about an hour away, I popped into Foyles on Charing Cross Road (the old address). On my way to The Theatre Section, I saw the cover of Full Dark House ander kept ne thinking “I think I know the front of this building”. Stupidly, I realised it was the front of The Palace Theatre, that I passed on my way to Foyles only minutes before. I took your book from the shelf- it was a signed first edition! - and took it to the counter, asking the bookseller if he thought The Book was any good? He highly recomnended the book and so I went to the Theatre with your book. Having read it, I looked forward to every new mystery each year. It has become quite a collection and I would like to thank you wholeheartedly for the joy each new book gave me!

Debra Matheney (not verified) Sat, 21/01/2023 - 19:26

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you so much for all the joy your books brought to my life. Laughing out loud when I read is not a common experience, but Bryant and May led me to do so and my husband to ask, "What' so funny?" My thoughts are with you and Pete as you transition toward death. You will be sorely missed, especially by your partner. I wish you peace and knowledge you will leave long in the hearts of so many readers. I'm off to read a book.

Agatha Hamilton (not verified) Sat, 21/01/2023 - 20:37

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Dear Christopher, I am so sorry to hear this is your last blog. I shall so miss them - as actually, I still miss Dan Terrell’s replies to them, and that was along time ago.
Still, as you say - the books speak for themselves. They do, and will go on speaking. So thank you for it all.

KB Molesworth (not verified) Sat, 21/01/2023 - 23:28

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I knew this day would come Chris, and I would check back frequently so I wouldn’t miss out on your insights. You have a lovely bunch of friends to wish you well and I have a desire to visit London. It’s been a pleasure to read your PCU books and all the wonderful characters you created. We’ll miss you,

Bonnie Ferguson (not verified) Sun, 22/01/2023 - 02:06

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I'm 73 and as with many details, I can't remember when I found your lovely Bryant and May novels. I know I have loved, laughed and cried through them. Such companionship is rare from books, but I have always loved London (born and bred in California) and have visited twice. Your writing brought it to life for me. During the pandemic, I reread my old friends again and enjoyed meeting the new ones. Thank you Chris for your wonderful words, plots, characters and commentary on a world past and present. You have brought me such joy. I can only wish you the same for as long as possible.
Love to both of you
Bonnie

Phyllis Alberici (not verified) Sun, 22/01/2023 - 02:38

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Dear Christopher, I've loved it all and truly thank you. I'll miss reading the blog but you must do what is best for you. I admire your tenacity and openness in working through your illness for as long as you can. I'm in the midst of my annual re-read of Bryant & May. The world would be a dreary place without the PCU and what a gift you've given us. My best to Pete. Peace and strength.

jeanette (not verified) Sun, 22/01/2023 - 02:40

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you Chris. I have enjoyed reading the blog but most of all the joy from reading your books. I found you in a library first, and oh boy were you popular. Your Bryant and May were always on a long waiting list. That is when I started buying the books themselves, sometimes asking for a new release as a birthday gift. I absolutely loved them when they were given as a Christmas present.. I became very proficient in getting that Turkey in the oven asap so I could get at least one chapter read before Christmas lunch. Thank you and love to you and Pete x

Kate L. (not verified) Sun, 22/01/2023 - 04:06

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for so many pleasing hours spent adventuring with Bryant and May and their team. Peace and blessings to you and Pete as you move into your futures.

Terry Raynes (not verified) Sun, 22/01/2023 - 12:26

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you old friend.
Love to you and Pete x

Keith Willmott (not verified) Sun, 22/01/2023 - 15:41

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thankyou for all you have done. I have loved and laughed at all the Bryant and May books, been frustrated at some of the episodes in the biographies - we are of similar ages and I remember the same things differently - but enjoyed them too. Now you can enjoy the love of your husband and friends, the admiration and respect of your readers and fellow writers, and think about how well it all turned out. GNOM

Dawn (not verified) Sun, 22/01/2023 - 20:44

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for sharing your talent with all of us through the years. Bryant and May have brought me so much joy as a reader. May you and your sweet husband know only peace and love as the future unfolds. We are holding you close to our hearts.

David McQueen (not verified) Sun, 22/01/2023 - 21:07

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I hope you are still reading your blog comments. It took me awhile to know what I wanted to say but I know now that I just want to say Thank-you. Thank-you for creating two of the most memorable and most interesting fictional characters of all time. Thank-you for many hours of entertainment and enlightenment. Thank-you for sharing your knowledge of the endlessly fascinating history of London. Thank-you for blog posts that opened doors on topics as varied as British cinema (of which I was almost totally ignorant), the creative process for writers and old paperbacks. Thank-you for introducing me to the Forgotten Authors who continue to expand my reading horizons. We all contribute to our community and our peers through whatever we choose to do in life but writers are among the few who also give a gift to future generations. Please accept my gratitude and my admiration.

Kevin Etheridge (not verified) Sun, 22/01/2023 - 21:28

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Deeply saddened to read ‘The Last Post’. Thank you so very much for the hours of enjoyment your books have given me since I first saw and picked up ‘Roofworld’’ from my local libraries new books shelf. I was hooked from the first page and have remained so since. Thanks again for signing books for me in Bloomsbury and then again at Forbidden Planet for ‘Old Devil Moon’ and having a drink with you in the backstreet pub you led myself, Guy Adams and another fan to. A great night I’ll never forget. It was a privilege.Equally saddened to hear your health has not improved. I wish you and Pete all the very best for the future. Best wishes, Kevin

Tracy Oz (not verified) Mon, 23/01/2023 - 07:20

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you Christopher
for Bryant & May
Your books bring such joy
much needed mainstay
Fantastically fantabulous
and bloody good fun
I’d love to share with Arthur
a sherbet lemon…

Much love & appreciation X

Frank Collins (not verified) Mon, 23/01/2023 - 10:46

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

This has come as a bit of a shock. I just saw your tweet announcing you were housebound and I immediately came here to read The Last Post.

Really sorry to hear what’s happened.

All I can say is thank you for your tweets, your gorgeous biography Paper Boy and pass on my thoughts to you and your family with the hope that your life can continue in as comfortable and safe place as it can.

Caroline Mc. (not verified) Mon, 23/01/2023 - 11:18

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for your stories, your novels and your blog. And also for all the interesting things I've discovered about London through reading your work. I discovered your writing in the late 90s, in Neon Lit, a Time Out book of short stories (I still remember the story - Thirteen Places of Interest in Kentish Town), and I've read everything you've written since.

Diane A McGuire (not verified) Mon, 23/01/2023 - 13:28

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for all the books. I love them.

DA McGuire

Liz Mckay (not verified) Mon, 23/01/2023 - 13:41

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you so much for all the joy your books have brought me.Sorry to read your Last Post you and your husband will be in my thoughts.

Anji Doyle (not verified) Mon, 23/01/2023 - 14:02

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Hello mighty wordsmith, I have read all of your books and blogs and although I didn't comment very often, I always enjoyed reading about your musings on life et al and whilst reading this today, I have arrived at the moment I have been sincerely dreading. I have loved all of your work from Roofworld, the first novel of yours I read right through to the very last Bryant and May. A truly gifted writer and in my top 5 of all time. I have enjoyed sharing the literary journey with you and I will treasure all the wonderful moments that reading your books have given me. Thankyou so much.

Larry Evans (not verified) Mon, 23/01/2023 - 14:23

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thinking of our time in Los Angeles 40 years ago!!! I am grateful to have known you and those other wonderful Brits in your circle. Today, I am sending you Love and a big hug.

LAM (not verified) Mon, 23/01/2023 - 14:43

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Just thank you, and thank you, and thank you (and because hardly anyone can ever say "just" and stop there--it's certainly not my virtue) for the books, for so many ideas about writing and film, for whole new ways of looking at London. When I went to Paris to do doctoral research, I recall thinking how weird it was that my first thought about so many places was that this is where various Zola characters had done this or that. My trips to London are now similarly marked by the activities of the Peculiar Crimes Unit, and always will be. Those aren't the only books of yours I've loved, and I look forward to still reading the rest. Thank you for sharing such a rich life of thought. Be good to yourself now.

Erik Deckers (not verified) Mon, 23/01/2023 - 16:33

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I appreciate this blog, I love your books, and I will miss reading your blog. I'll be sure to go back and reread it from time to time. Ask your husband to republish these articles in a book of essays, and I'll buy that as well.

Thank you for everything you've done for the world of books and words and ideas. It has meant so much to me.

Liz Collins (not verified) Mon, 23/01/2023 - 16:53

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

To Captain Blims. Today I found myself sitting in a friend’s apartment in the ski resort Flaine and casually picked up a book. It is written by one of their friends, Ajay Chowdhury. I much enjoyed his first book and this, The Waiter has a quote from you on the front cover. I was immediately taken back to Wardour Street, to memories of roller skates, the Intrepid Fox, Sony Walkmans and the carefree seventies. I checked you out and was devastated to see you had published your Last Post. I hope this reaches you because I want you to know how much we all loved you. The beautiful Chris Fowler. Collector of people and creator of wonderful memories. The Over The Top Club lives forever. Liz x

Rhonda Swanson (not verified) Mon, 23/01/2023 - 17:59

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Rest easy and be at peace. Know you left a mark on many lives and there will be more readers who devour your work.

Happy trails to you.

Jennifer (not verified) Mon, 23/01/2023 - 23:10

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Dear Christopher, I just want to say thank you for all you have given to us. Your words, heart, and soul live on in Bryant and May. I love you. God bless.

Jan (not verified) Tue, 24/01/2023 - 06:52

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for such wonderful writing. I have loved Bryant and May, who have lit my way through tricky times - they are old friends I return to frequently, as they are for many. Sending you much love.

Simon Hart (not verified) Tue, 24/01/2023 - 14:16

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Beautifully written to the last. Thank you for all the amazing hours I've had swept up in your novels (just read The Sand Men which I thoroughly enjoyed)

Take care

Nick Haynes (not verified) Tue, 24/01/2023 - 14:21

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for all the books and your words here. I am listening to the B&M books again. There are lots of wonderful new things to discover when part of my brain isn't trying to work out who did what and why. I can enjoy all the colour, the locations and the fun.

Thanks again.

Simon Nathan (not verified) Tue, 24/01/2023 - 16:08

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thanks for sharing your gifts with us. Thanks for letting us be a part of the lives of all the characters and places.
And as Londoner who’s lived a long way away for more than 20 years and very very rarely been back, thanks for reminding me of why it’s the best city in the world. I’ll miss all the good you brought and shared. I wish you and Pete peace.

Paul C (not verified) Tue, 24/01/2023 - 16:52

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Does anyone here have the IT skills to set up a CF appreciation society / fan club website please ?!

Glasgow1975 (not verified) Tue, 24/01/2023 - 17:33

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I have been dreading this Post, but at least it wasn't the real one I was dreading, just yet. I'm glad I met you at your last AyeWrite! appearance, even though I forgot to give you my name to sign and did give you Helen's for her postcard lol

Brenda (not verified) Tue, 24/01/2023 - 18:02

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Yesterday I walked into my local library in Glasgow. There was a display of of non-fiction books fronted by a much-issued copy of Paperboy. I love Bryant and May yet Paperboy is still my favourite. Thank you for letting me into your younger life, Chris. Thank you for everything.

Ace (not verified) Tue, 24/01/2023 - 20:27

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Paul C --- First off, a fine idea. But as I'm sure you can appreciate, there would be a bit more to it than just IT expertise ---although nothing unsurmountable, at least in theory. There would certainly be costs involved in developing and maintaining any site and the need to host the site. Also, a matter of the rights to use Christopher's intellectual property. My suggestion would be to first approach him, his agent and primary publisher (Penguin/Transworld for 'Bryant & May' ?) for the necessary permissions and the latter, in particular, for possible financial support. Crowdfunding for any site might also be an option as would obtaining "space" on a compatible existing (publisher's ?) site. All issues to be considered but not, as I say, insoluble with effort. Where that effort will come from is the primary consideration to start.

Robert Munday (not verified) Tue, 24/01/2023 - 20:56

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

From a factory floor in Ontario, thank you Mr. Fowler. Your Bryant and May have brought me happiness and friendships, making my life richer. May you find comfort and peace.

John Griffin (not verified) Tue, 24/01/2023 - 21:11

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you very much for years of enjoyment. Big hug.

Rumsy4 (not verified) Wed, 25/01/2023 - 02:27

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for giving us Bryant and May. I love love love the geriatric eccentric duo. Best wishes and hugs.

roxanne g reynolds (not verified) Wed, 25/01/2023 - 04:05

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

thank you, chris. you will be forever in my heart, crowded in there with arthur and john.

David Pollard (not verified) Wed, 25/01/2023 - 10:37

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Rereading Bryant and May yet again and thought I'd check in here.
Sorry to hear this but shall work my way through your postings here, oh and read some more books too.

William (not verified) Wed, 25/01/2023 - 12:37

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

As a reader since Roof World back in the late eighties I thank you for all the pleasure your books have given over the subsequent years.

Hazel Jackson (not verified) Wed, 25/01/2023 - 13:04

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for the magic of your literary world, for your scholarship, your history and your humour. Thank you for sharing your gifts with us and making our world a brighter, more enchanted and more insightful place. Thank you for everything.