London

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 […]

This Week’s Page Turners

I haven’t caught up with any graphic novels for a while, so I tried Albert Monteys and Ryan North’s adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Slaughterhouse 5’. It was never a favourite novel of mine, an uneasy and peculiar mix of satire, war memoir, farce and science fiction, but this is a superbly realised project that captures […]

For Heaven’s Sake Let’s Bring Back The Friday Song

There’s little joy to be had this Christmas (although ‘West Side Story’ was a surprisingly good remake – if a trifle unnecessary) so here are the opening titles for Wes Anderson’s ‘The French Despatch’, which will cheer you up if you’re a Wes fan and nauseate you if you’re not. Anderson noticeably modelled his early […]

Me And Mr S: A Sondheim Appreciation

I’ll never list my favourite Stephen Sondheim songs. The composer-lyricist suggested that writers should never turn out lists because once the idea is established everything else is repetition. His dictums, rules and ideas were set out in two huge volumes of works, ‘Finishing The Hat’ and ‘Look, I Made A Hat’. I’ve trusted many of […]

Seeking Strangeness

Genre fiction can be a good friend to new authors because ultimately it’s a meritocracy. It does not discriminate between young or old, rich or poor, North or South. If you’re keen enough you can join one of the many societies that exist for young SFF writers around the country and get something you’ve written […]

Who Do I Fink I Am?

The provenance of Cockneys isn’t as clearly defined as you’d expect. In order to be a Cockney you must have been born within the sound of Bow Bells. But many people don’t realise that the church isn’t in Bow, and has nothing to do with the East End. The church of St Mary-le-Bow was destroyed […]

Fountains & Tulips

‘I want to talk to you about ducts’ – Brazil The fountains in Trafalgar Square are spurting again instead of dribbling. Well, we’re all getting old. They now reach 35 feet high. The three 50-year-old engines underground – which also houses a fridge-sized plastic tub filled with a year’s worth of coins scooped out of […]

Last Night In Soho I Saw Last Night In Soho

    They asked if we had seen a man in a chicken suit go past. That’s Soho for you. Edgar Wright’s new film is a psychological puzzler that’s a love letter to London’s Soho then and now. That’s its blessing and its curse. Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy are faint-voiced mentally fragile fashion student and […]

The Marble Arch Mound

I normally have a certain admiration for pointless follies and architectural foolishness. However, this story features something far less loveable. Oxford Street has for a long time attracted a rougher clientele than Regent Street or Bond Street. As its fortunes declined into discount stores new ways were sought, most of them misguided, to bring back foot […]

A Garden Of One’s Own

It’s the only large Central London park I’ve never been inside, and it’s just two miles from our home.  To be sure, there are other spots missing off the Fowler Patented Scrutinizing Map of London but this is the largest unknown territory. Buckingham Palace Garden, 39 lush acres lying behind high spiked walls, magically screens […]