London

Poster by @gilloballybay

The fight to save the Gladstone Arms is a battle for the soul of London

Lant Street would be easy to miss, if you weren’t looking for it. Charles Dickens lodged on Lant Street as a child, during his father’s stay in Marshalsea debtors’ prison… Read more

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The digital disruption of cocaine

29 August 2015

It’s Notting Hill Carnival this weekend. Two days of skanking, dutty dancing and daggering (the dance, rather than the weapon). No carnival experience would be complete without rum punch and… Read more

The devastation left behind after the Blitz (Photo: Getty)

Ghosts of the past haunt Pat Barker’s bomb-strewn London

29 August 2015
Noonday Pat Barker

Hamish Hamilton, pp.259, £18.99, ISBN: 9780241146064

If the early Martin Amis is instantly recognisable by way of its idiosyncratic slang (‘rug-rethink’, ‘going tonto’ etc) then the later Pat Barker can be similarly identified by its finely… Read more

Eat...just maybe not at Jamie's Italian (Photo: Getty)

Boastful, narcissistic, overpriced: welcome to Jamie’s Italian

22 August 2015

Jamie’s Italian is squeezed into the Devonshire Arms on Denman Street, Soho, borne on the duplicitous winds of TV shows and book deals. It’s an odd fit, like a Flump… Read more

VJ Day celebrations in Piccadilly Circus (Photo: Getty)

A.N. Wilson

15 August 2015

Should we have celebrated VJ Day? Hearing the hieratic tones of the Emperor Hirohito on Radio 4 the other day, announcing the unthinkable — the surrender of the great imperial… Read more

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‘I was facing truths I didn’t particularly want to look at’: Michael Moorcock interview

8 August 2015

By the kind of uncanny coincidence that would tickle his psychogeographically minded friends Iain Sinclair and Peter Ackroyd, Michael Moorcock’s publishers have recently moved offices to the same corner of… Read more

Michael Moorcock (Photo: Ulf Andersen/Getty)

Michael Moorcock’s ‘autobiography’

8 August 2015
The Whispering Storm Michael Moorcock

Gollancz, pp.480, £25, ISBN: 9781473213326

Michael Moorcock has put his name to more books, pamphlets and fanzines than, probably, even Michael Moorcock can count, but nothing ‘major’ over the past ten years. He’s now 75.… Read more

I Shop Therefore I Am (Dan Kitwood/Getty)

A fake fishing village, and the nastiest thing I’ve eaten as a restaurant critic

8 August 2015

Selfridges is skilled at making things that are not hideous (women) look hideous (women dressed as Bungle from Rainbow or a tree, after shopping at Selfridges). So I was not… Read more

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Jessie Burton

1 August 2015

The week starts well. My debut novel, The Miniaturist, is a year old. On the anniversary of its publication, my friend Patrick the bookie sends me a message to say… Read more

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A novel to cure fear of missing out

1 August 2015
Left of the Bang Claire Lowdon

4th Estate, pp.338, £14.99, ISBN: 9780008102173

Who’d be young? Not 25-year-old Tamsin, if her behaviour is anything to go by. A classical pianist who’s never quite going to hit the heights, she devotes herself to playing… Read more

An adventure playground in 1966. Photo: William Lovelace/Express/Getty Images

The new adventures of the adventure playground

25 July 2015

Mud, timber, junk, fires, splinters, rust, daubed paint… Suddenly people are talking about adventure playgrounds again. With the Turner Prize-nominated collective Assemble constructing a new adventure playground in Glasgow, and… Read more

London shouting: The Clash at the ICA, 1976

Why plotting a sound map of London is impossible

18 July 2015

The opening bars of Ralph Vaughan Williams’s A London Symphony (1914) are scooped out from the gloopy bedrock of the city. Vaughan Williams was dredging through the same mud, silt,… Read more

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The joy of an empty Gordon Ramsay restaurant

11 July 2015

The Maze Grill is on a sinister street in Chelsea, between a small Tesco — a boutique Tesco? — and a shop selling ugly sculptures of cats. The Chelsea Physic… Read more

First he brought limp salad, and now it’s drizzling

The pitfalls of picnics (and how to avoid them)

4 July 2015

Strange, isn’t it, that despite having such famously terrible weather, we Brits are so fond of a picnic. It’s something to do with making the most of what sunshine we… Read more

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27 June 2015

Home Tens of thousands took part in a demonstration in London against austerity, and thousands more in other cities. Russell Brand was heckled for being too right-wing: ‘Fuck off back… Read more

The Ivy has lost its sparkle

The new Ivy doesn’t have the old magic (if there ever was any)

27 June 2015

The Ivy is a Playmobil-style faux-medieval restaurant in a triangular building opposite The Mousetrap; of the two, The Ivy is more ancient and threatening. It has mullioned windows, a photogenic… Read more

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My eco-home nightmare

20 June 2015

I write this half-naked, sucking on ice cubes, breaking off sentences to stick my head in the fridge. In the flat below, one neighbour dangles out of her window, trying… Read more

Iain Sinclair

Iain Sinclair and me — Michael Moorcock meets his semi-mythical version

20 June 2015
London Overground: A Day’s Walk Around the Ginger Line Iain Sinclair

Hamish Hamilton, pp.259, £16.99, ISBN: 9780241146958

In the late 1980s Peter Ackroyd invited me to meet Iain Sinclair, whose first novel, White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings, I had greatly admired. Ackroyd initially knew Sinclair as a poet,… Read more

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Let's turn London into Venice: Thomas Heatherwick interviewed

13 June 2015

Fast-forward a few years. Picture the scene. Before the decade is out you could be strolling across or lingering on Thomas Heatherwick’s Garden Bridge, which, if it materialises, will take flight from… Read more

Beware of the Pretend Sloanes

The new Sloane Rangers – now with less charm

13 June 2015

Ann Barr — who created the Sloane Ranger with Peter York in 1982 — died in May at the age of 85. But the co-author of The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook… Read more

Nanny-wars

Nanny wars!

13 June 2015

My pregnancy unleashed a primitive craving. The strength of my yearning left me dizzy: a nanny, I wanted a nanny! I worked full time, and couldn’t conceive of giving up… Read more

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A fantasy world with its own perfumed air: the Colony Grill Room

13 June 2015

The Beaumont Hotel is a bright white cake in the silent part of Mayfair, where the only sound is Patek Philippe watches, tick-tocking. We are in the eye of the… Read more

(Photo: Getty)

Which behaved worse: callous Thomas Cook or cynical Barclays?

30 May 2015

Which is worse, morally and reputationally — to be Thomas Cook, shamed by its refusal to show proper human concern, for fear of being taken to admit responsibility, over the… Read more

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Fenchurch in the Sky Garden – like going for dinner in Total Recall

30 May 2015

Fenchurch is a restaurant that is scared of terrorists. It cowers at the top of 20 Fenchurch Street, a skyscraper which looks like an enormous and unfashionable Nokia 3120 mobile… Read more

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What Labour needs to do is estrange its awful voters

16 May 2015

And so now we have to suffer the epic delusions, temper tantrums and hissy fits of the metro-left. They simply cannot believe how you scumbags could have got it so… Read more