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

Mary Hunnicutt (not verified) Wed, 25/01/2023 - 22:55

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for all the wonderful Bryant and May books.

David Sturgeon (not verified) Thu, 26/01/2023 - 03:02

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I just finished "Memory of Blood" tonight and was looking to see what the next book in the series was when I came upon this post. Thank you for creating these intriguing characters and weaving such an amazing backdrop for their adventures. I stumbled onto Bryant and May, finding a copy of "Off the Rails" at a used bookstore and had no idea the journey I was about to embark on. Thank you!

Diane Nars (not verified) Thu, 26/01/2023 - 06:24

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I'm so very sorry to read that this is the final blog post. You and all those who care for you are in my heart. I have no other words - just a deep sadness.

Fre (not verified) Thu, 26/01/2023 - 11:51

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

You have given me a love for London, I did not know the city, have not experienced city life, except through your writings.

Thank you. I will continue to read and reread your work. God bless and keep you safe.

Allan J, Sim (not verified) Thu, 26/01/2023 - 13:30

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for all the joy and pleasure you have brought me. Not just Bryant & May, although I love that so much I came to London just to do a crawl of the pubs from The Victoria Vanishes :-), but all your work and this blog.
London never forgets.

Stephen Groves (not verified) Thu, 26/01/2023 - 19:40

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for all of it ,you have gave us the best of times.
All the very best
STALKY

John DLC (not verified) Thu, 26/01/2023 - 23:06

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for everything Christopher.
I can’t find anything else adequate to say- but I send you love.

chazza (not verified) Fri, 27/01/2023 - 09:53

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Yes, please leave your blog up. I am about to start revisiting them from the very beginning...

Em Foster (not verified) Fri, 27/01/2023 - 11:43

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I can only say thank you for the so many years of wonderful books and stories you have given us all. Hailing from Norwich and working in the West End in many of the theatres you mention, I felt like a friend was writing stories for me.
My copy of Roofworld remains one of my most read and leant books and the addition of Bryant and May’s collection was as if I had asked for it myself!
Where everything else has become digital, my collection of your work remains in my home. I simply could never part with something that’s brought so much to me through so many years.
I hope that your time is spent happily, with those you love, knowing that you have contributed stories which will be shared and shared over and over. I wish you the very best.

Joel (not verified) Fri, 27/01/2023 - 21:04

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

anyone have any new movie recommendations? i have been hearing about various movies at sundance, particularly "rotting in the sun" which is purported to have 29 penis's (peni ???) in it...not sure if that's a positive or negative thing...but there seems to be a couple australian horror movies, a gay luchador, and a few documentaries that all look interesting...anything tinkling anyone's fancies of late?

linda+ayres (not verified) Fri, 27/01/2023 - 21:32

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you, thank you. So many lives are richer because of you. Bless you and hubby.x

J (not verified) Sun, 29/01/2023 - 01:30

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for giving us so much of yourself. And thank you for giving us Bryant&May. My heart is full.
Much affection to you and hubby.
xo

Andy Morley (not verified) Sun, 29/01/2023 - 08:43

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you Chris, for inviting me into your world and the world of Bryant and May. It has really opened my eyes to the endless possibilities of London, a city I love, and has provided me with many hours of happiness and escapism. Take care and thank you once again, for bringing a little light, into this sometimes, unforgiving world.

Giles (not verified) Sun, 29/01/2023 - 09:08

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Dear Chris,
Your wonderful PCU books have always been such a delight. Reading them makes us feel happy, and fascinated by the beguiling oddities of London and all the people we meet. Whenever we met you at book launches round Bloomsbury you were invariably so enthusiastic and so joy-giving. As well as charming and bright and great fun! These qualities you have given us through your writing and your life are like never-ending radio waves bleeping chirping across the dark depths of the universe. Their sound will stay as strong as ever. Much love and great admiration to you.

Lisa (not verified) Sun, 29/01/2023 - 13:19

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Anything I write will just sound trite. This is my first comment on your blog and all I want to say is Thank You xx

Judith (not verified) Mon, 30/01/2023 - 05:37

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

thank you for Bryant and May, two characters I've grown to love and cherish. I'm so sorry for your illness. Take care and be with the ones you love. Peace to you.

Wayne Mook (not verified) Mon, 30/01/2023 - 16:24

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

With all the other comments closed I just wanted to say goodbye to all the good people on here, thanks for all the recommendations, books, recipes, etc. and good advice. Hope you are all well. I finished the story I mentioned previously, just needs a little proof reading and then I'll send it tonight. On the Manchester building boom it's still going on, plans for an even higher tower were unveiled this January, it will be our first tower over 70 stories (71 with a top floor restaurant.).

Thanks again to Chris, and to Pete, sending you love and peace. Although I am now following you on Twitter under the moniker, RadioMoo.

Wayne.

Ed DesCamp (not verified) Mon, 30/01/2023 - 17:31

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Chris - thank you for the world of Bryant and May (never forgetting London, the third major character), and for the other wonderful works of fiction. I continue to give them to friends and loved ones as gifts. Most of all, thank you for your openness, allowing us to get to know you through your autobiographies and what has to be the most amazing blog on the internet. As with your books, I have gone back to reread your blog entries multiple times, and it’s always fresh. Now, I guess I’ll have to start reading your Tweets to see what’s up over there. There certainly are a lot of entries! Peace be with you.
Pete - thanks for taking care of our favorite author during this difficult time. May the future bring you peace.

Melinda Landis (not verified) Mon, 30/01/2023 - 20:16

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Just, thank you. I learned a new way of reading.

Louise Smith (not verified) Tue, 31/01/2023 - 16:55

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for your books. You have made a lot of people happy. Sending you best wishes for strength and peace.

Susan Drees (not verified) Tue, 31/01/2023 - 21:39

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for the gift of yourself through your books and characters. They live on and we share them always. Peace,

Jennie Gist (not verified) Wed, 01/02/2023 - 04:55

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thank you for many, many hours of entertaining reading. I read London Bridge in December , then started in on rereading all the books in order, something I don't often do. Am enjoying better seeing how all the pieces fit together. I will always think of Arthur and John, and all the rest. And of you, Chris. May your remaining days be easy.
Best, Jennie Gist, Ohio USA

.

Rocqueforte O'Leary (not verified) Wed, 01/02/2023 - 09:59

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Dear Christopher,

In the intro to his collection of short stories "Nightmares and Dreamscapes", Stephen King wrote:

"Good writing - good stories - are the imagination's firing pin, and the purpose of the imagination, I believe, is to offer us solace and shelter from situations and life-passages which would otherwise prove unendurable.....If the stories which have resulted from that imagination have done the same for some of the people who've read them, then I am perfectly satisfied."

Your "urban horror" stories, both long-form and short, have on many occasions been my shelter, and "Thank you, thank you, thank you" doesn't seem adequate, but will have to do. Wishing you and your husband all the best for the time that remains.