London

The Book That Launched: An Evening On The Golden Hinde

There was a terrific turnout last night for the ‘Bryant & May’s Peculiar London’ event on board the dry-docked replica of Sir Francis Drake’s flagship at London Bridge, even if we all nearly knocked ourselves unconscious on the beam ceilings, raised up these days, so I can’t imagine how low the rooms must once have […]

London, City Of Lies

While I was writing ‘Bryant & May’s Peculiar London’ it became clear that most of what I knew about the city was wrong. In any single story I investigated, the facts changed from decade to decade. Worse, they continue to change to the present day, so that I was rewriting sections right up until we […]

Experiences For Sale

I remember early trips to the London Dungeon, especially when they had the terrifying Jabberwocky (a gigantic puppet used in the Terry Gilliam film) snarling inside a cave. It was a peculiar, vaguely disreputable experience that always felt a little unpredictable and dangerous – sadly now replaced with a tamer tourist attraction. I thought that […]

Living In The Past For One Long Weekend

(Most embarrassingĀ Jubilee product tie-in this week: Krispy Kreme’s pathetic memorial doughnut) I’m not braving the crowds to stare at an LED screen. I know I spent the Queen’s Silver Jubilee on some kind of march in Windsor because there’s an old photograph of me (tall and impossibly rangy, with long hair) outside a Windsor bookshop […]

The Never-Ending Story

Imagine writing a book on a subject that fascinates you – a famous sports ground, vintage cars, town planning, movie stars. You research it for years, write it, rewrite and edit and proof it, and after you’ve finished and the book has just gone to press you discover that a new piece of information – […]

The Tube Gets An Upgrade

  ‘Take Every Englishman And Twist Him By The Neck’ I spend far too much of my time in London’s tube system. From the age of two I’d been taken on tube trains at regular intervals (although my mother had preferred the old trams) and by my eighth year I was on them by myself. […]

Permacrisis? What Permacrisis?

Where is all this new money coming from? For a while London has returned to normal, so long as vaccination can be provided in a continuous rollout cycle. We’re free to choose whether we want to mask and distance. My neighbourhood remains wary thanks to its large population of Chinese and Japanese students, for whom […]

Bryant & May Are Stepping Out Into The City

When it came to positioning the next Bryant & May book, I and the Transworld team faced a dilemma; ‘Bryant & May’s Peculiar London’ is neither a novel nor a collection of short stories, but it has all of the characters you’d expect in a B&M adventure. Nor was it a guide book. Its contents […]

In Bandit Country

‘It is him.’ ‘No it isn’t. It can’t be. What would he be doing here?’ ‘I heard his name called on the tannoy.’ ‘It must have been someone else with the same name.’ ‘No, look, that’s him. Say something.’ ‘No, you say something.’ I could hear all this from the couple seated in the oncology […]

The Beasts Beneath

Some years ago, I was sitting in a Soho taxi late at night when its driver was violently attacked by two drunk businessmen who walked across his path. I agreed to act as the driver’s witness, but outside the courtroom the police persuaded the plaintiff to drop his case in exchange for cash. The driver […]