Happy New Year Of The Ox…

The Chinese dragon charging up and down Gerrard Street in central London yesterday reminded me that it’s Chinese New Year, so Happy New Year to any Chinese readers here.


British public information films like ‘How To Make A Cup Of Tea’ (elsewhere on this site), with their strangely hypnotised casts and statements of the bleeding obvious, are a great source of entertainment, but this one, ‘Unwanted Guests’, must have scared the bejabbers out of audiences when projected on a big screen. Listen out also […]

London House Secrets Revealed

I’ve just finished reading this: ‘A Lust For Window Sills’ by Harry Mount is an enjoyable romp through British architecture. Along the way, Mount explains why spiral staircases only ever go up clockwise, why the English place their living room doors in corners, why in London your back garden is likely to be lower than […]

London On Film

First in an occasional series. Noel Coward’s 1944 crowd-pleaser ‘This Happy Breed’, the story of a London house and the family who lived in it between the wars, was apparently filmed at number 53, Alderbrook Place near Clapham South tube station, but I can find no such road existing today. And in ‘The Ladykillers’, Mrs […]

New ‘Forgotten Authors’

I’ve just added a number of new ‘Forgotten Authors’ columns – see right.

Race Relations

Whenever I start a new collection of short stories, I keep a timeline of events so that I can contextualise the writing a little. This week, it was revealed that 1 in 10 children in Britain now lives in a mixed-race family, with mixed-race relationships so common that traditionally distinct ethnic groupings will soon disappear […]

Smoke In London

Sometimes on a Saturday, watching tourists lurking on a street like, say, Beauchamp Place, London seems to have the most pointless shopping in the world, unless you’re in the market for a ten-foot high silver propellor or a life-size carving of a horse with a lampshade on its head (I swear I’m not making this […]

What Do Bryant & May Look Like?

From time to time, artists send me their interpretations of my wizened detectives – it’s great to find out how others see them. Graphic artist Keith Page sent me this version of Bryant & May, as they were in the two time frames of ‘Full Dark House’, which I like. The worst example I’ve seen […]

Light Up London

We’re finally getting some decent light installations in London (see the one near London Bridge, below) but how much more could we do? Berlin’s Festival of Lights shows how an ordinary street terrace could look, just for an evening. Sure, we live with light pollution but this is a big city and winter’s low lighting […]

Those Pubs In Full

I’ve been asked to provide a list of the London pubs that appeared in ‘The Victoria Vanishes’, which seems like a good idea to me. I can’t guarantee they’re all still there, though. British boozers often occupy prime locations on street corners and have two front doors, which makes them ideal for redevelopment into flats […]