Look At Life

Why Is London So Scruffy?

When the spectacular Victorian Gothic edifice of the St Pancras Grand Hotel decided to open a bar called the Gilbert Scott, its restored interior exceeded all expectations. From the vast painted ceiling hang immense golden bells, and the space is outrageously opulent, although it lacks the personality of the great hotel bars and is consequently […]

Deadly Looks At Life

When I was a child, tripping off to the pictures twice a week to see double bills, I dreaded having to sit through ‘Look At Life’, a weekly 20-minute newsreel that was sandwiched between the two films. It turned out endless sanitized versions of British economic and social life with the same droning stern voiceover […]

On The Inside Looking Out

There are so many quotable lines in the voiceover of this gruesome Rank ‘Look At Life’ short, suggested by Mark Valentine, one hardly knows where to start. This one’s about London members’ clubs, and how depressing were they? How badly lit, dull and vaguely grubby everything was! Watch any of these short films on YouTube, […]

Quiet, Rebellious, Underground, Deserted

Three to watch out for – how many more volumes can there be on the world below London? Peter Ackroyd goes further back into the past and gives us his spin on the subject. There’s a decent countercultural history of London, but I still prefer Time Out’s old paperback of agitprop, which captures the time […]