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Christopher Fowler
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London
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When your heroes start dying off, it feels like notice is being served. Jonathan Miller's death leaves just one of the 'Beyond the Fringe' group remaining; Alan Bennett. All four had multiple talents, but non more so than Miller. A comedian, TV presenter, theatre and opera director, writer, broadcaster, lecturer and art historian, he seemed able to turn his quick, erudite mind to anything. He was…
8 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
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The Trades Directory for 1867 lists the top London trade as being publicans (I do this research so that you don't have to). Perusing the directory (peruse it? I can barely lift it) I find a lengthy list of the mid-Victorian period's most popular pub names. In number one place is The King's Arms (87) and The King's Head (60) with the Queen's Arms and the Queen's Head following closely behind, it…
17 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
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Last weekend I played host to two friends, one from Barcelona, one from Warsaw. They asked me if I would plan 'a Londoners' sort of weekend' for them. It felt like a daunting prospect; I tend to make my plans subconsciously, drifting into alignment with others as the weekend unfolds. Like most central Londoners we go out more often during the week. I remembered that some while ago I met a woman…
5 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
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I wrote about the ceremony of the Knollys Rose - the granting of a single red rose in return for the loss of a garden centuries ago - in a recent Bryant & May novel (I can't remember which one) only because I stumbled upon the site while walking through the city one day. Now I've found another odd ritual that is apparently still carried out, although I'm sure it has been covered on more London…
23 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
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Whenever someone comes up with a fun, original thing to do, it seems as if London passes a law against it. To be fair, with such an immense number of people crammed into small winding streets I can see why hoverboards were banned, but there was a time when 1970s nightclubs held rollerblade races around traffic-filled Leicester Square. I happen to know that. Ahem. So some of the things still banned…
23 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
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I think we'll have a new column. To kick it off, here's where the idea came from ten years ago on this very site... So, an age-old mystery has at last been solved. Passengers on the London Underground always stand on the right and tut in annoyance when anyone does the opposite. An old film recently unearthed for the London Film Festival revealed why. Unlike modern "comb" escalators, where the end…
19 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
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On Sunday morning I went to the Tutankhamun exhibition at London's Saatchi Gallery, where the club-footed boy king is on a last world tour before heading off to the new purpose-built Giza Museum overcooking the Great Pyramid. There, its 150 artefacts will be reunited with the items that cannot leave Egypt, like his golden death mask and the outer coffins. Tutankhamun became pharaoh when he was…
14 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
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Referenced in Pepys's diaries, the Lord Mayor's Show, London's grand annual parade, just passed its 804th year. The procession kicked off at 11am from Mansion House with cadets, carriages, floats and bands moving through the streets. Over in Paternoster Square and St Paul's there were funfairs, art installations and street theatre. The parade ended with the arrival of that carriage. And for the…
14 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
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We tend to ignore the things we don't like. Whenever London is depicted in a tourism brochure, there are photographs of churches and palaces, guards and statues with nary a modern building in sight. A city is defined by its uniqueness, not by another anonymous glass box from Richard Rogers. The Hilton Hotel at Heathrow's Terminal 4 (1990) is meant to look like an aircraft hangar, and could only…
12 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
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Buildings which were once open have now shuttered. Much of London has traditionally been hidden from view, but the city's increasingly open-door policies have not made much more available for visitors see. There are a vast number of buildings to which no access is permitted, and sections remain under secure supervision thanks to the threat of terrorism. Only during Open House weekend every…
15 comments

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