Hatchards Piccadilly with Iain Sinclair

John Rogers and Iain Sinclair at Hatchards Piccadilly
photo by Johanne Adams https://www.instagram.com/johanneadams/

What an amazing night at Hatchards Bookshop on Piccadilly with the great Iain Sinclair talking about my book, Welcome to New London and getting a preview of Iain’s forthcoming publication, Pariah Genius.

John Rogers and Iain Sinclair at Hatchards Piccadilly
John Rogers and Iain Sinclair at Hatchards Piccadilly
John Rogers and Iain Sinclair at Hatchards Piccadilly
John Rogers at Hatchards Piccadilly
Welcome to New London and This Other London at Hathcards Piccadilly

After the talk and book signing, I wandered with a friend up to the Old Coffee House in Soho to remind myself of the glory of Brodie’s Beer (brewed in Leyton), sinking a couple of pints of Piccadilly Pale. It seemed the most appropriate place to delve into Iain’s ‘fictionalised biography of the afterlife of the photographer John Deakin‘.
The Buxton reference in the Truman’s mirror nicely echoed the discussion with Iain over the influence of the Buxton family in East London and their mention in Welcome to New London. Iain also recalled his time working at Truman’s with the sculptor and author Brian Catling in the 1970s.

The Old Coffee House Soho
Pariah Genius by Iain Sinclair on the bar of a Soho pub

The Hidden Passages of St James’s

Our walk today takes into the secret world of St James’s with its many passages, courtyards and cellars. We’re guided by a route described in Secret London by Andrew Duncan which starts at Piccadilly Circus and goes along Piccadilly. We then walk through the Wren Church of St James’s Piccadilly to Jermyn Street and follow this into Bennet Street and then down a set of steps into Park Place and the home of the Royal Over Seas League. From here we find Blue Ball Yard and then Spencer House in St James’s Place and another secret passage that leads into Green Park. From here a passageway takes us into Cleveland Row and St James’s Palace. Moving towards Pall Mall we explore the wonderful Picking Place, Crown Passage, Angel Passage and King Street before returning to Jermyn Street and then back to Piccadilly Circus.

Rainy London Walk through Mayfair to Piccadilly 

The rain really reveals London in the raw. So where better to take a walk in a downpour than through the glitz and glamour of the London district most associated with ostentatious wealth – Mayfair. We peel off Regent Street down Maddox Street into St George’s, looking down into the valley of the lost River Tyburn. We accidentally stumble upon David Bowie’s old red phone box in Heddon Street where he was photographed for the back cover of the Ziggy Stardust album (I had no idea and learned this in the YouTube comments). We pass through St James’s Church into Jermyn Street and stroll Piccadilly Arcade to face The Royal Academy of Arts on Piccadilly. And its here we find the destination of this sodden walk (via Hatchards booksellers) – Burlington Arcade. Opened in 1819, following the fashion started on the continent in Paris and Brussels, this beautiful passage seems to belong in a parallel dimension. When I emerged at the other end – the rain had stopped.