The English countryside was once a refuge for writers and artists of slender means. The life was peaceful, the air was fresh, and the rents were cheap. But like exotic plants transplanted to alien soil, they brought their own peculiarities to their new habitat. And they could arouse suspicion and sometimes loathing in the natives. Read More
It was a gentle devouring to begin with. The abandoned bicycle was settled into the bed of leaves and twigs, and then caressed and entwined by grass, nettles, cobwebs, and questing finger-like branches. Read More
One day in 1745 in the hamlet of Gubblecote, near Tring in Hertfordshire, an elderly woman named Ruth Osborne went to beg for some buttermilk at a local farm. She lived in poverty with her husband, John, neither of them able to get much work or support from their neighbours. The Osbornes were shunned for the dual reasons that they were thought to be both witches and Jacobites (1745 also happened to be the year of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s rising). Read More
My new book, the second in the London Trails series, is out now. City of Song: A London Sixties Music Trail takes the reader on a walk from Chelsea to Soho, stopping off at twenty-four locations that hosted significant musical performances, encounters and happenings in that decade. Read More
‘Brutalism is an ethic, not an aesthetic…the moral crusade of Brutalism for a better habitat through built environment probably reaches its culmination at Park Hill.’
(The New Brutalism – Reyner Banham)
The gaffer sits by a lantern with his tools:
hammer; rivets; hood; a pot of tar.
He anoints the face with a thick brush,
stroking against stubble, sealing mouth
and nostrils. It’s like caulking a boat
he says. He dips the brush in,
sweeps down the eyelids. A further
thick layer all over and he’s done.
They lift him again and put him in the iron,
snapping a finger and flaying some skin
from the thumb. Finally he’s in,
the rivets hammered home.
(‘His Body is Put Up at Dead of Night’ – Rob Hindle)