London on Foot event

Just as I’ve finally finished my documentary Make Your Own Damn Art: the world of Bob and Roberta Smith I’ve been invited to screen The London Perambulator at this London On Foot evening in Brixton. I’ll also be doing attempting to get a word in edgeways during a Q&A with Nick Papadimitriou who will no doubt be mercilessly flogging his book Scarp, which is published at the end of June.

The event is the launch of the second edition of Curiocity  – a great little fold-out pamphlet of London ephemera which deserves to be stuffed in the pocket of a waterproof jacket and thoroughly dog-eared on schleps around the city in the spring showers.

There will also be talks by Tom Jones, author of Tired of London, Tired of Life and Tom Bolton, author of London’s Lost Rivers.

Tickets are free and you can get them here


Lea Valley in 2005 before the Olympic Blitz

Bob Stanley presents this great look at the urban wilderness of the lower Lea Valley for the Culture Show before work on the Olympic site and the big shopping centre began – includes interviews with Iain Sinclair and Richard Wentworth.

It’s well worth seeking out Stanley and Paul Kelly’s film, What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day? set around the locations in this video – it’s a real gem and brilliantly captures the area at a moment of transition.


The hills of the City of London

People often talk of the Hollywood Hills but it’s rare to hear the City of London talked about in terms of its hills – but a city of two hills it originally was.

I was reading about this in Discovering Roman London (Grace Derwent 1968) just now in the pub, the words somehow reaching my brain through some of the worst karaoke singing I’ve ever been subjected to. You can see the legacy of the London hills  recorded in the street names of the City – some of these are in the book and then I’ve sat here looking for more: Cornhill and Ludgate Hill (the twin hills), Bennet’s Hill, Huggin Hill, Garlick Hill, Dowgate Hill, Fish Street Hill, St. Mary at Hill, Dunstan’s Hill, White Lion Hill, Addle Hill, Lambeth Hill, College Hill, and obviously Tower Hill.  To the west you find: Saffron Hill, Back Hill, Herbal Hill, Eyre Street Hill, Vine Hill, Snow Hill.

Derwent gives us this guide to the scale of the incline on the western slopes:
“To get an idea of what the slope up from the floor of the valley to the western hill of the twin hills was like, try walking up the steps from Farringdon Road to the top of the Holborn Viaduct, or even look over the viaduct and see how far it is above the traffic beneath.” (p.21)