Tag: London


Wednesday, 25 April, 2012

With the Olympics drawing nearer by the day, interest in the host city is at a new high, which means that John Lanchester has picked the perfect time to issue his latest novel, Capital. When we first meet Usman Kamal in the book, he’s assisting his brother, Ahmed, who runs a shop at the end […]

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The Titanic tragedy

Wednesday, 18 April, 2012

“Lunched at the ‘Thirty’ [London club]. There was much talk of the Titanic tragedy. Lady Dorothy Nevill said that the wreck was a judgement from God on those idle rich people who want all earthly luxuries even on the water. She observed: ‘I am told they even had a garden!'” Diary entry, Marie Belloc Lowndes, 18 April 1912.

Born in 1868, Marie Adelaide Elizabeth Rayner Belloc Lowndes was an English writer most famous for The Lodger, a horror novel based on the Jack the Ripper murders of 1888. The first film version of the book was Alfred Hitchcock’s silent movie The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927), and the most recent was directed by David Ondaatje in 2009. Marie Belloc Lowndes died at the home of her daughter, Countess Iddesleigh, in Hampshire in 1947 and was buried in La Celle-Saint-Cloud near Versailles, where she spent much of her happy youth.

Dickensian London and the author’s inner child

Tuesday, 24 January, 2012

Dickens’s Victorian London is a collection of 19th-century photographs that has been published by the Museum of London to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the author’s birth. This picture shows London Bridge, teeming with vehicles and pedestrians in 1875.

The London of Dickens

The book accompanies the Museum’s current exhibition on the writer’s life. One remarkable image, a Fox Talbot picture from 1841, is thought to be the earliest existing photograph of the Thames. It provides a view of Westminster, with no Houses of Parliament and no Big Ben. When we do see the river, it appears with not a single duck, cormorant or coot in sight because the water was simply too filthy. Dickens’s Victorian London was an industrious, dynamic place, but it was also a dirty, dangerous city, where children were as likely to die as survive. It was the city of Oliver Twist. But it was not all grim as the late, great Christopher Hitchens explained in his final essay, “Charles Dickens’s Inner Child“. Snippet:

“It is all there to emphasize the one central and polar and critical point that Dickens wishes to enjoin on us all: WHATEVER YOU DO — HANG ON TO YOUR CHILDHOOD! He was true to this in his fashion, both in ways that delight me and in ways that do not. He loved the idea of a birthday celebration, being lavish about it, reminding people that they were once unborn and are now launched.”

Other People’s Money

Monday, 26 December, 2011

One of the nicest presents in the Rainy Day stocking was Other People’s Money by Justin Cartwright. It’s very much a novel of and for our times. The influence of Gatsby cannot be overstated, but Other People’s Money is not a clone of Fitzgerald’s masterpiece. Rather, it is a meditation on morality in the time […]

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Welch & Rawlings

Saturday, 3 December, 2011 0 Comments

With the light, dry wit that marks his superb musical criticism, Ludovic Hunter-Tilney of the Financial Times recently wrote, “Gillian Welch’s European tour, which ended in London this week, will not have been a bonanza for local haulage firms and roadies.” Hunter-Tilney was watching Welch and David Rawlings in action at the Hammersmith Apollo in London and the “show” consisted of two performers, two acoustic guitars and two pairs of microphone stands. “As stage shows go, it is austere in the extreme,” he noted. And the music? “To become disenchanted you must once have been enchanted,” he observed. “That was precisely the state of mind that Welch’s and Rawlings’s masterly performance provoked.” This is great music making.