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Christopher Fowler
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A Bit Too Real A walk through Central London is a shock. For the past four months it has been like a quiet country village - and despite a half-hearted effort to get people into offices, it still is. A great many of the shops remain shut. There's a cat asleep in the middle of St Martin's Lane. You don't have to look before crossing a road. It's quiet enough to hear birdsong and church bells. After…
17 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Bryant & May
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Janice Longbright is an amalgamation of all the tough women I had ever encountered working in London's Soho. I spent over a quarter of a century negotiating the madness of this tiny square of land, working and socialising there, but not being much of a late night person I was never one to drag a party on into the small hours. Neither was Soho for most of its life, really - only a very few venues…
15 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
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The London Underground is the oldest in the world, but once it was also bigger in terms of distance than it is now. The district line used to run from Ealing Broadway all the way out to Windsor, but the line was discontinued in 1885 due to lack of passengers. And if the thought of whipping out to the Berkshire countryside to visit the castle by tube is astounding, know this; You could once jump on…
7 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Bryant & May
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Many, many books are written by outsiders. Writing is a solitary, strange occupation, and writing well requires enormous willpower and single-mindedness. It occupies writers' minds and possesses them. There is a constant need to improve, yet I can open a cheap crime novel from the 1940s and find better writing than I am capable of producing, so there is always a goal above this one, and a goal…
9 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Bryant & May
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The character of unit chief Raymond Land in the Bryant & May books has an unexpected genesis that began with 'One Thousand And One Nights'. The archetypes from those tales gathered from Persia and Arabia (names so much more evocative!) inhabited a fanciful world of jinns and sorcerers, but their bawdiness, realism and the tales' variety of subject matter also anchored them to everyday life. For…
23 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Books & Film
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It's easy to forget there are actual words inside them Excellent news; book sales are up thanks to Lockdown; no real surprise there. Fiction dipped slightly but general sales are good, probably driven by desperation for something to do that wasn't watching Netflix or cleaning out the composter. But we were already doing well; British publishers generated record revenues of £6.3 billion in 2019, up…
23 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Bryant & May
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A friend of mine who was a theatrical agent hired a Leicester Square cinema (back in the days when you could do such things) for his own birthday and had a screening of 'Gone with the Wind'. I saw it for the first time then, and remember thinking, 'Bless Butterfly McQueen, but this hasn't aged well.' I remember the Tom & Jerry cartoons as a kid, and thinking 'Who is this big screaming lady?' It…
25 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Film
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I'm researching today so let's have a song - it's been far too long. We need a little jazz hands in our lives occasionally, especially since there's no theatre anymore. Don't you often think, why aren't there more film musicals set in a postwar Sovietski Soyuz workers commune? Your prayers are answered. And while I'm researching, here's a puzzler for you: Come up with a single word that has three…
41 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Bryant & May
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I've never thought of India as anything but a matriarchy. In New Delhi I felt I was surrounded by people who must have personally known my (very English) grandmother, for they had the exact same language and mannerisms. The cultural link between the two countries cannot be underestimated. Fitting a feisty young third-generation Indian officer into the PCU was easy; she would admire her elderly…
30 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Books
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The year is 1678 - twelve years after the Great Fire has left London's heart in ruins, with the city still overlooked by the severed head of Oliver Cromwell. It's a time when Titus Oates presented his wild-eyed evidence of a Popish plot, the great conspiracy to have King Charles II murdered. Catholic peers were arrested and London was on the alert for Papists lurking around every corner. Into this…
10 comments

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