Clowning Around In London

Joseph Grimaldi was the greatest British clown. Every year on the first Sunday in February, clowns from across the country meet in Dalston, East London, for the church service in his memory. This has been an annual tradition since 1946. In 1967 permission was given for clowns to attend in costume. Joey was born in […]

More Tube Weirdness

I’m researching tales of the tube at the moment, and have long heard stories about pigeons riding the tube to come in from city’s outskirts for the junk-food-horror that is Leicester Square. It seems a highly risible idea, but I’ve spoken to a few tube guards who swear this is true, and one of them […]

The Case Of The Singing Subway

Martin Sorensen from Kepler’s Books in the US sends me a great story about New York subway trains ‘singing’ the opening of the song ‘Somewhere’ from West Side Story. It’s to do with alternating current, and how this ended up sounding like a Sondheim song is explained here

This Week In London

…The Monument reopened. Wren’s commemorative 202 ft Doric column to the Great Fire of London had been planned and built very soon after the event, and has now been restored to its former glory. Its height is the distance to the fire’s starting point. A rather smart 3-D poster for jeans in the style of […]

We Need New Words!

The wonderful Douglas Adams started a trend for finding new words to suit previously unvoiced concepts. My favourite was a word for ‘the behaviour of sellotape when you’re tired’. He used the names of defunct railway stations. How about creating appropriate words for the following states? There needs to be a word for the feeling […]

Looking Up In London

I’ve been searching London’s upper storeys for years – ever since my novel ‘Roofworld’, in fact. But this is the only example I can recall of the Beatles’ influence in London. This shop is in Hanway Street, off Tottenham Court Road, and has a definite touch of Yellow Submarines about it.

London With A Twist

…Oliver, that is. You’d be forgiven for thinking that the stage musical hadn’t been around for over 40 years, or the book for 171 years, given all the attention it’s been getting in the last few months. The book’s famous illustrations showing views of London have never been bettered, so I was surprised to come […]

Hunting Lions In London

There are so many books about London that collecting them is not only an expensive hobby, but likely to push you out of your home – you’ll be needing an aircraft hangar if you’re planning to start collecting them. Rootling about in my London collection tonight, I came across this gem of a book. Inside […]

London’s Ugliest Buildings

Lest anyone who hasn’t visited London thinks the city is filled with wonderful architecture, take a look at Nicholas Grimshaw’s Sainsbury building in Camden. Incredibly, this is the glamourous side; the back looks like a run-down concentration camp, and is now faced by ‘luxury apartments’ whose buyers will have wonderful views of the corrugated steel […]

A Man’s Home Is His Castle

I took this photograph yesterday in Baron’s Court, London. I’m guessing this homeowner wanted to go a bit Roman with his columns and have a rich marble effect going on, but couldn’t get his neighbour’s permission to do the other half of their shared column. The solution is probably agreeable to both sides, but doesn’t […]