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History

May 122014
 
A Short Journey Downriver

A Short Journey Downriver by Mark Sadler
Twice a day, when the tide is high, the Thames floods the broad, low-ceilinged underground channel from which the Granville emerges. During the autumn and winter, as the temperature drops, these back surges create localised fogs that linger along Upper and Lower Thames Street. The river that London buried alive rises like a ghost through the porous layers of paving to reassert its claim upon its former overground course. [read more…]

Apr 212014
 
Sherlock Holmes and the Howling Desert of South London

by Lucy Munro
I’ve been re-reading Sherlock Holmes. Not in the doorstopper collection with almost see-through paper I bought when I was thirteen and lugged to school and back for a blissful fortnight, immersed in its foggy miasma and gleefully drinking in the details of Holmes’ not-so-secret drug habit, but in a £1.99 Wordsworth edition comprising everything up to his demise at the Reichenbach Falls, a death from which he was never intended to return. [read more…]

Apr 112014
 
London's Campest Statues No.11

JACOBVS SECVNDVS, Trafalgar Square by Matt Haynes
Don’t be fooled by the Roman garb. This effete nob with his toga tossed casually over his shoulder – part Brideshead, part Duran Duran circa Planet Earth – and his tunic hoicked over his knee like a Year 11 schoolgirl at a bus stop in Watford is, in fact, King James II, his body languidly bowed like a small fey banana and his upper limbs polygonically disposed as if to remind us that, truly, this was the noblest teapot of them all. [read more…]

Nov 252013
 
The Peckham Panama

by Matt Haynes
In the grass are, unmistakably, the ghosts of abandoned roads: cracked tarmac and kerbstones, carless and homeless, fading to brown and green. And here’s the thing: if you look in an old A-Z – one from the sixties, say – Burgess Park isn’t there. But those spectral streets are; and they have names, and purpose, and they’re drawn in hard black ink. There’s also a line of turquoise, running dead straight between them. [read more…]

May 072013
 
The Hungry Cabbie

by Matt Haynes
Despite, by law, occupying no more space than a horse and cart, each shelter could seat thirteen cabbies without recourse to contortionism or immodesty. An attendant sold simple hot fare, and the cabbies, in return, promised not to gamble, drink, swear or reveal how thirteen grown men could fit into such a small space and yet still go home to their wives without blushing. Not for nothing were windows frosted and moustaches kept trim. [read more…]

Dec 112012
 
Going Back To Old Kent Road

by Matt Haynes
Although ostensibly a celebration of rampant free-market capitalism, Monopoly stifles those very instincts that should engender success by insisting council planning departments impose draconian building regulations that allow for the construction of nothing but small green houses or big red hotels; you don’t get the chance to open, say, a department store or computer showroom, or to have a small parade of bakers, greengrocers and shoe repairers. [read more…]

Sep 142012
 
The Six-Lane Spectre

by Julian Ridgway
It was a motorway. Or was once meant to be. One that would have stretched from the river to the M1, and then round a whole city-manacling circuit of similar pre-cast gaugings. The London Motorway Box. A high-flying lap of the city, with slip roads. This particular piece would have flown or carved through much of West London, even leaping over the Earl’s Court exhibition halls. I emitted a tender gasp of Brutalist desire. [read more…]

Jul 162012
 
The Muted Trumpet

by Matt Haynes
Whenever the need to fondle something long and wrinkly grew too much to bear – which, after the death of her beloved Albert, was at least twice a week – lucky old Queen Victoria seldom found herself frustrated in the way of ordinary women, for one of the perks of being Empress Of All The Pink Bits was a plentiful supply of pachyderms, gifts from foreign potentates to whom such beasts were, frankly, little more than garden pests. [read more…]