Working 9-5

A retrospective on ten years of employment “Working” as a teenager basically amounted to babysitting for the kids of my mum’s friends. We’d watch films like Lethal Weapon (which, as rated 18, I wasn’t legally allowed to watch at the time, let alone the kids) and I’d chase them up the stairs to bed as […]

[Guest Post] A very British thank you – Lily Fox

Dear German tourists: As a Brit, I am polite. It’s practically the national pastime. And as such, we are all far too polite to intervene in any way when something harmlessly awkward but secondhandedly embarrassing occurs in public. Not a proper drama – we’re OK with those – just something a little…well, not done. We […]

The Piccadilly Line to Camelot

Camelot, the seat of King Arthur and his Queen Guinevere. Its location – even its very existence – has been studied and debated for generations. In his seminal work Morte D’Arthur, Sir Thomas Mallory proposed that the ancient city of Winchester had once been Camelot. Other possibilities are Caerleon, in Wales, or Cadbury Castle in Somerset […]

Bacon and the chicken

Pond Square lies in Highgate, North London. The body of water that gave the area its name is long gone, filled in in 1864, but the square is now famous for a much more unusual reason – London’s weirdest ghost. Sir Francis Bacon was an Elizabethan/Jacobean ‘courtier’, one with many hats, as he dabbled in […]

London Stone

So, did you know: encased in a glass and metal grille case – like some magical talisman in a romantic epic – lies London Stone, an ancient, mysterious lump of limestone, said for hundreds of years to have magical properties focused on keeping the city of London safe and prosperous. If you didn’t know, I […]

The dumpy caryatids of Euston

St Pancras Church on London’s Euston Road was built in 1819-22, primarily to serve the nearby area of posh Bloomsbury. The church is neoclassical in design, taking as its inspiration the Athenian monuments the Erechtheion and the Tower of the Winds. The total cost of the building – including land and furnishings – was £76,679, making it the […]

The chilly coronation of Henry V

Today in History: 9th April 1413  Right now, in the UK, the weather is all that anyone seems able to talk about. “It’s snowing!” people keep telling me, like I don’t have eyes, shaking their heads incredulously. “In April. It’s April!” My Facebook newsfeed is populated with pictures of limp, grey snowmen and effusions of […]

Lady Lewson, “remarkable for her age and peculiarities”

“Lady Lewson”, born Jane Vaughan (1700 – 1816) was one of 18th century London’s more colourful characters, and the probable inspiration for Dickens’ famed eccentric spinster, Miss Havisham from Great Expectations. Jane had the good fortune of marrying a rich, elderly merchant . She herself was just nineteen. She moved to his stately home in […]

Spend a penny

  You might, on occassion, have had cause to moan about the dearth of public toilets in your city, particularly London. The British Toilet Association claims that there is now only one public toilet for every 10,000 people in England but only one for every 18,000 Londoners (I’m not even making this stuff up). You may have […]