London Pubs No.6: The Old Dr Butler’s Head

This pub can be found at 2 Mason’s Avenue, London Wall. Dr. Butler was a fraud. He failed to qualify at Cambridge and practised some pretty outrageous ‘cures’. For epilepsy he would fire a brace of pistols near his unsuspecting patient’s face, to scare the epilepsy from them, or in cases of the plague, plunge […]

Camden Goes Mod

An impromptu mod scooter parade through Camden on Saturday reminded me that the town always was, and always will be, the home of Madness rather than Amy Winehouse (whose horse face is emblazoned on the side of a market stall). This coffee stall is typical in what I identify as Camden-Mod style. So I thought […]

MP Claims We’re All Jealous

Tory MP Anthony Steen shoved the inspection of five hundred trees on expenses and had this to say about being caught out. “I think I have behaved impeccably. I have done nothing criminal. And you know what it’s about? Jealousy. I have got a very, very large house. Some people say it looks like Balmoral, […]

London Pubs No. 5: The Seven Stars, Carey St

Hidden away behind the Royal Courts of Justice (High Court) this odd little pub is about as quaint as the courts are grand. It was one of a handful of local buildings to survive the Great Fire (1666) and in 2002 celebrated its 400th anniversary with a street party. Proprietor Roxy Beaujolais is presumably still […]

Above The Fire

My friend Simon has been art-directing shoots around the rooftops of London, and discovered that you can actually get to the very top of The Monument. Above the ball of fire there’s room for just one person to stand…

London Pubs No. 4: The Tipperary Fleet St

The Tipperary in Fleet Street used to be called The Boar’s Head. It was built in 1605 with stones taken from the Whitefriars Monastery, stones that allowed it to survive unharmed in the raging inferno of the Great Fire of London. The Tipperary claims to be the first Irish pub outside Ireland and the first […]

Sex, Death & Sharp Objects

In Paris at the weekend, I was reminded once more that France does not operate in the same kind of ‘Nanny State’ atmosphere as England. After creeping about the deserted (and partially flooded) Paris Catacombs, I went to a modern art exhibition where the French families in front of me happily took their toddlers around […]

Falling In Love With Books

A bookshop should hold the promise of what you might find inside – a hint of mystery and excitement. In England we’ve fallen under the dominance of chain stores, but it’s not the same elsewhere. Here’s a shop I found in Paris that looks like Harry Potter would shop here, although they wouldn’t stock him. […]

Lost Cinemas

I once read an interview with the editor of the Daily Mail, in which he said that the ideal article in his paper was one that left the reader feeling bitter, angry or scared. Its feature on before-and-after shots of cinema sites don’t quite do that, but they make you wonder about the direction of […]

Great Covers Of Our Time

Well, I’ve not always added to the roster of cool covers. This alarming illustration by the rather wonderful artist Les Edwards was my very first book cover, and is enough to send a child under a table. The original artwork was taken down by a relative who felt too disturbed to look at it, and […]