I've read plenty of London guidebooks since I moved here in 2003, but none have inspired me to go out and see my new hometown more than Secret London - an Unusual Guide
, written by Rachel Howard and Bill Nash. This handsomely illustrated book has peeled back the covers on London for me, showing off this city's many oddments and wonders, curiosities that had been literally lurking right there on my daily walk to work, all unsuspected.
- The cellars beneath the Viaduct Tavern in Newgate Street contain the last remaining cells from the notorious Newgate Prison, now used as beer-cellars (the staff will let you in if you ask nicely);
- Somerset House's "Dead House," in the Strand is a grim and ancient tomb, practically next door to the post-office box where I've been getting my mail for seven years;
- A rare surviving "sewer venting lamp" outside Charing Cross station, which lit up the streets of London with "firedamp" rising from the foetid Victorian cloaca;
- Dennis Severs House, in Brick Lane (around the corner from our regular Sunday breakfast), a huge, mouldering row house formerly owned by a Canadian artist who filled it with junk antiques and curiosities, now open to the public;
- The Mummy of Jimmy Garlick, in St James Garlickhythe Church in Garlick Hill -- a body that lay in state during the Great Fire was mummified by a trick of the great heat, which rested for centuries behind the church organ (exhibited to curiousity seekers for a few pennies), then moved to the hymnal cupboard, and finally located in dusty bell-tower, where he can be seen by appointment only;
- A hidden pet cemetery in Hyde Park, where "hundreds of mildewed miniature headstones" mark the final resting places of dogs, cats, birds and a monkey;
- The Crossbones Graveyard, a plague pit filled with 15,000 dead (including the local whores, who were called "punchable nuns" in the parlance of the day) that is now used as a bus-parking yard by Transport for London to the outrage of some Londoners, who stage a monthly memorial at the site at 7PM on the 23d of each month.
There are literally hundreds of incredible sights to see enumerated in Secret London
, and my New Year's resolution is to get to as many of them as I can!
I picked up Secret London by the register at Clerkenwell Tales in London's Exmouth Market, near my office, where they have done an absolutely brilliant job of curating a display of quirky, interesting and beautiful books.
Secret London - an Unusual Guide
Asaf Hanuka is a celebrated Israeli cartoonist whose astonishing, surreal illustrations serve as counterpoint to sweet (sometimes too-sweet) depictions of his family life, his complicated existence as a member of a visible minority in Israel, the fear he and his family live with, and his own pleasures and secret shames — a heady, confessional, autobiographical brew that has just been collected into The Realist: Plug and Play, the second volume of Hanuka’s comics.
Stories matter: the recurring narrative of radical Islamic terror in America (a statistical outlier) makes it nearly impossible to avoid equating “terrorist” with “jihadi suicide bomber” — but the real domestic terror threat is white people, the Dominionists, ethno-nationalists, white separatists, white supremacists and sovereign citizens who target (or infiltrate) cops and blow up buildings. That’s what makes Brian Wood’s first Briggs Land collection so timely: a gripping story of far-right terror that is empathic but never sympathetic.
At $11, the Proctor Silex K2070YA 1-Liter Electric Kettle was the cheapest model I could find on Amazon that didn’t look like it would result in electrocution or an explosion of boiling water. I’ve spent three months with it. It’s OK. In fact, it’s showing no sign at all of problems. It boils water fast. […]
While some people still maintain that everything in Apple’s walled garden “just works” and is immune to the rampant malware of the Windows world, the reality is different. The Mac’s growing market share has made it a much more viable target for malicious actors, and its built-in tools aren’t always enough to fix things. Drive […]
Boasting an IPX6 waterproof rating, the Trakk Bullet Ultra Compact Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker resists dust and heavy rainfall. It’s currently available in the Boing Boing Store.The Trakk Bullet offers the same wireless convenience as other portable speakers, but few are built as tough as this one. Its utilitarian construction is designed to be a totally low-maintenance […]
The Ticwatch 2 Active Smartwatch is a simpler take on an active wearable that raised over $2m dollars on Kickstarter and is currently offered in the Boing Boing Store.Somewhere in between the single-day battery life and platform-specificity of the Apple Watch and Android Wear devices, there exists the Ticwatch. Instead of trying to shoehorn another […]