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Sphinx & The South Bank

PHOTOGRAPHY ON THE LONDON EMBANKMENT

There sadly weren’t any riddles involved – maybe if I’d have waited longer – but a little snapping walking home through London Town along the Embankment. I love that the sphinx is always waiting by the Thames. Cleopatra’s Needle is fascinating – simple by being there. And on a winter evening, at dusk, you can actually take a little time to shoot some pics as the tourists float away.

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PHOTOGRAPHY IN LONDON

And Further Pictorial Wanderings About London Town

I still find living in The Big Smoke entirely magical at times. So many places I’d only read about until a move down South from Newcastle upon Tyne. Suddenly the Whitehall backstreets of dubious notoriety, Hawksmoor churches, a little Eduardo Paolozzi and every place that sounded terribley interesting from a ‘Bryant & May’ novel is just a short journey away.

Not exactly Annie Leibovitz but a few snappy snaps from the iPhone whilst pottering about London. And, thankfully, photoshop can always cover up a multitude of lens related sins. Click! Click! Loving photography in London!





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Something Nasty In The Woodshed…

A little unsettling Voodoo down by Waitrose? Dubious occultists are up to no good at number 23 again? The Thelemic Lodge next door just won’t keep the noise down? Yup, urban occult. Who knows what sinister esoteric doings are going on behind the closed doors of suburban Blighty.

I just loved the new anthology idea from Anachron Press. Urban Occult. Irresistible. Trying to write a contribution sounded loads of fun. Satanists. Crazy Wiccans. Those nasty inner-city backwaters that really just aren’t right. And I’ve been lucky enough to have my short story included. Wow. Plus I’m very pleased to have designed the jacket.

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The London Library

(Keep It Down There Mr Darwin)

Need to write something? Want to get that drawing project you started months ago finished? Well, your house is beset with devilish traps to prevent you from doing so. Really. A kitchen full of tea to be made. An Xbox just feet away. A whole world of pointless tasks you can happily procrastinate over. And that’s before actually risking going anywhere near the internet. A total lack of will power prevails and before you know it you’re playing Portal in between another round of Earl Grey.

After piteously moaning about this utter lack of creative discipline a friend offered to loan me their library membership. Well, that’s very sweet. Okay. So slightly discouraged by thoughts of ‘Children’s Book Day’, clusters of cold dodging old folks, crazy people talking to the large print books and other previous library encounters I set off to Westminster. To The London Library.

I then find out why my slight reticence to venture here caused several smiles of amusement.

Set in a gorgeous Georgina town house The London Library turns out to be a fairytale establishment straight out of your favourite fantasy fiction. A deceptively narrow little door on St Jame’s Square leads into a labyrinthine warren of floors. Delightfully confusing. Books shelved up to the ceilings. Crackly old leather armchairs. Oil painting from centuries ago. There’s even a quirky Edwardian cataloguing system. Books filed by subject matter, so random finds of interesting reading matter abound. The place itself is initially so fascinating there’s no chance of getting any actual writing done. But a least I now have a better class of distraction.

This is a place where you imagined Arthur Conan Doyle wrote. Agatha Christie plotted fiendish crimes. Henry James thought about ghosts and governesses whilst Charles Darwin contemplated evolution. And turns out they did.

The London Library was founded in 1841 by Thomas Carlyle. His founding vision was for an institution which would allow subscribers to enjoy the riches of a national library in their own homes.

Carlyle was joined in his vision by eminent early supporters: The Earl of Clarendon, the enlightened early-Victorian politician, was the Library’s first president, Thackeray its first auditor; Gladstone and Sir Edward Bunbury were on the first committee and early members included Charles Dickens and George Eliot.

Over the past 170 years, The London Library’s collection has grown to more than one million volumes covering 2,000 subjects. It has enjoyed the patronage of many eminent writers, academics, politicians and readers throughout its history and has long played a central role in the intellectual life of the nation.

- The London Library -

Sadly admission costs here but beg, borrow or steal membership if the opportunity ever arises. Or there’s a free tour on Monday evenings. Just a look round the building alone is worth your time before even getting started into the books shelves.

Oh, and if you’re feeling flush avid readers can adopt their favourite book to make sure it always gets looked after with the care and attention it deserves. Bless.

Eventually, despite a fascinating book find about hidden London tube stations and a guide to Victorian underwear, some writing did get underway. Hey, two thousand words without the aid of Jaffa Cakes. And convinced I may well be sitting in Charles Dickens old chair I didn’t immediately start shoe shopping online. I had a nasty feeling he might be watching.

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Peculiar Places #2

Step off Union Street and onto Redcross Way. You’re in a nondescript Southwark side street. Bisected by railway lines it borders an urban sprawl of undeveloped wasteland. Nothing remarkable here. Well, apart from a spontaneous shrine to the outcast dead of London.

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