Sir John Betjeman

Bryant & May Go Mad & Take Me With Them

And so to our most recent batch of readers’ comments on where to send Bryant & May next. (This still makes me think of my mother saying ‘I think you’ve mined out that particular seam, dear,’ after volume 5). Monuments; When the British build a monument, they first have dinner inside it, cf. Crystal Palace, […]

The Pleasure Of Leaving Things Alone

Growing up in London gets you used to impermanence. Overnight your favourite shop, cafe or pub will simply disappear after being on the same spot for a few hundred years. There has never been much sense of preservation here. For generations architects have frowned upon the idea, as if restoring an old building (or god […]

From Paradise To Purgatory

When the Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman described suburban Neasden as ‘the home of the gnome’ he didn’t mean it nicely. London’s Metropolitan Railway accidentally created suburbia. The term ‘Metroland’ was coined in 1915 and used to describe a band of countryside north-west of London, sold as a land of idyllic cottages and gardens. But […]