London

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 […]

The Books That Don’t Exist

These are the books which are hard to find in bookshops, being independently published or self-published. In a way, Amazon has levelled the playing field for us seekers of rarities, as it is now possible to find all manner of strange and highly specific books dedicated to unlikely subjects. Bookshops can’t stock print-on-demand volumes and […]

Yet More Films To Look Out For!

This is the time of the year when I have to see 100+ films to vote in the British Academy. These mini-reviews are merely pointers for viewing purposes and don’t necessarily represent my choices. A Lot of Lustre At the end of the last film column I suggested we have better stories to tell than […]

The Comments: No Comment!

One of the hugely enjoyable benefits of churning out this weekly grab-bag of topics known as a writer’s blog is the Comments Section. Readers are happy to sound off on any subject under the sun. Sadly, we’ve lost quite a few delightfully eccentric and knowledgeable commenters over the years. I’ll have to add some bits […]

More Films To Look Out For

You won’t have to look hard to find ‘West Side Story’ – it will no doubt win big at the Oscars; after last year’s dour ‘Nomadland’ audiences could do with an uplift and this fits the bill. It’s respectful of the original, replaces the white actors with a properly Puerto Rican cast, finds a new […]