Thursday, 18 October 2018

The Rats

DC Editor Adam writes…


Last week I posted a few self-guided tours featuring locations from London horror movies. Today, I've moved over into the library to root around for a good horror read for Halloween…




The Rats (1974)
By James Herbert

My goodness, the Visit London people are going to HATE this post… the most gruesome and shockingly memorable London-set horror novel of all time.


Before you’ve even opened the thing, the title has the heart racing: The Rats. It plugs directly in to one of mankind’s most primal fears: and in a London context it sends historical shivers down the spine resonating back to 1665 and the Great Plague.


But a good title is nothing without a strong tale, and Herbert has fashioned a gripping narrative enhanced greatly by a vivid backdrop of a crisis-torn London.


All this and we haven’t even mentioned the giant, man-eating black rats.


Upon its publication the book attracted great criticism for its graphic scenes – but with 40 years hindsight, Herbert can be seen as the man who brought British horror fiction out of the 19th Century drawing room/stately home/haunted castle and in to the streets of the 20th Century.

The exhilarating terror of the piece is timeless. The context is both very much of its time of writing (1974) and deeply Millennial. Its dystopian vision of a London failing to deal with a crisis places it firmly in the tradition of post-apocalyptic movies and TV of the period (the BBC’s Survivors, Hollywood’s The Omega Man).

Looking forward, it is hard to imagine the conception of recent horror/disaster movie 28 Days Later without Herbert’s disturbing tale. Just like that movie, the desolate London scenes haunt the memory for long years after. The scenes on the tube train will stay with you forever. Be afraid. No, really. I'm not kidding. Be VERY afraid.




Join me on a Ghosts of the Old City Tour this October. I'm leading the tour on Tuesdays 23rd & 30th October & Saturday 27th October. Book here…




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Wednesday, 17 October 2018

A Halloween Tribute to Boris Karloff


DC Editor Adam writes…

Last year at Halloween I recorded an episode of the London Walks Podcast with my guiding colleague Andy Hallett. Andy took a look at the occult influence on the plays of William Shakespeare, while I compared three versions of Frankenstein on the big screen and pay tribute to London's own Boris Karloff.




In the process, I re-familiarised myself with the 1967 album An Evening With Boris Karloff and His Friends - which was released on to Spotify last month.

It is terrific fun, catch up with it here…





My tribute to Mr Karloff is on The London Walks Podcast Halloween Special 2017 Part Two…



Karloff's plaque can be found in South London (it's blue in real life, but in a fit of over-enthusiasm I've Halloween-ed it up a bit in my pic)…



It's placed on Forest Hill Road SE23 and it does commemorate a genuine London movie legend. William Henry Pratt (born in south London, raised in Enfield) left England in 1909 for North America where, under the stage name of Boris Karloff, he embarked upon the life of a thesp. Supplementing his initially sporadic acting career with periods of manual labour, it was not until 1931 and his iconic portrayal of The Monster in James Whale’s inaugural “talkie” version of Frankenstein that he became a star.

In addition to his famous horror roles – as The Mummy and in The Body Snatcher – Karloff enjoyed a long and varied stage career, starring in the works of Jean Annouilh, J.M Barrie and J.B Priestly on Broadway. His ghost is said to haunt Hollywood & Vine.



Join me on a Ghosts of the Old City Tour this October. I'm leading the tour on Tuesdays 23rd & 30th October & Saturday 27th October. Book here…





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Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Ten Musical Stars At Golders Green Crematorium

DC Editor Adam writes…

I'm still in that morbid frame of mind (and loving it). Halloween is on the way…

Ten Musical Stars At Golders Green Crematorium


1. Marc Bolan

Stoke Newington-born glam rocker, died in a car crash at Barnes in 1977. A bench in his honour at Golders Green references his hit Ride A White Swan




2. Larry Adler

Genius of the harmonica famed for his interpretations of Debussey and the score to the movie Genevieve. Here's his take on A Foggy Day in London Town




3. Lionel Bart

Composer of Oliver! Eastender by birth rose to fame and riches and blew the lot. Read my fan letter to Lionel Bart HERE.



4. Joe Orton

Playwright murdered by his lover Kenneth Halliwell in 1967. Noted Beatles fan, he wrote a script – unused – for a Beatles movie entitled Up Against It. The Beatles' track A Day In the Life was played at his funeral…




5. Keith Moon

Legendary drummer of The Who.



6. Ronnie Scott

British jazzman extraordinaire, yet another Eastender by birth, his club is still going strong in Soho…



7. Amy Winehouse

Ashes interred at Edgebury Lane Cemetery, Edgware.




8. Bud Flanagan

East End born singer, wartime star as half of Flanagan & Allen. His last gig was singing the theme song for beloved sitcom Dad's Army, which he nailed in one take.



9. Ella Shields

Music Hall star born in Baltimore 1879. Male impersonator who made Burlington Bertie From Bow famous…



10. Jack Bruce

Scots-born bass player with Cream. Here he is back in '68 with Cream at the Royal Albert Hall…



How to find Golders Green Crematorium…






A Rock'n'Roll London Day of the Dead Special for Halloween.

Wednesday 31st October 7pm - meet at Tottenham Court Road tube

£10 per person

£8 for students, seniors and goths.

The dead go free.


Pay on the night or book now via the link below…






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Monday, 15 October 2018

The Boundary of Westminster – A Photoblog

DC Editor Adam writes…

In today's post I'm treating myself to a wee bit of a celebration – twice over.

It was on this day 10 years that The Daily Constitutional launched with its first post. Way back then it was simply called The London Walks Blog, and my first post was on the Jack The Ripper tour. In 2008 Jack the Ripper was one of only three London Walks tours that I was leading at the time.

10 years on and I'm out and about leading tours all over London.

My other cause for celebration is that I've just started the Westminster Tour Guiding course at the University of Westminster. It is immense fun and very illuminating.

To celebrate both events, I took one of my Big Walks (regular readers will know that my days off are often dedicated to big London rambles such this one from East Finchley to Richmond and this Christmassy one from Cornhill to Camden Town).

The route I followed today was the boundary of the City of Westminster and here are a few of the things I saw along the way (there an animated map at the end of the post) …


The starting point was Embankment tube…


… past the oldest public structure in London…



Love this detail on the Embankment benches…




The City took a long time to get out of bed…




Reflecting on Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex…



Who am I to judge? The Royal Courts of Justice…




I've been passing this spot for nearly 30 years and I STLL can't resist a snap…



Over Lincoln's Inn Fields to Covent Garden. Keep an eye out for the Demi Virgin, emblem of the wealthy Mercers' Company. Spot her once, you'll start to see her everywhere…




A good spot…


Bob Dylan played here in '62…



Regent's Park…






A Halloweeny gatepost in NW8…





We so associate Gothic revival with the grand scale - so it's always fun to see neo-Gothic flourishes in a domestic context - and no more so than on Kilburn Lane, where the Artizans, Labourers and General Dwellings Company built an estate in the 1870s…




I'm loving this Cockney tough guy - in the huff with the fancy-schmancy swans in the background and puffing his chest out at your correspondent…



Along the Grand Union Canal, under the Westway and down through Kensington Gardens…




… where a knot of second-string camera crews are gathering to cover the announcement of another royal baby. This despite the fact that the happy couple, the Duke & Duchess of Sussex, are in Sydney…


Through the Westminster patch of Albertopolis and into Chelsea where I always love this view of Battersea Power Station…


Back round to the Embankment for the Tate Britain and some high contrast with the neighbours…



… at Millbank Tower…




Almost full circle…






And here's the route animated…







The Monday Photoblog will return next week. In the meantime, if you'd like to share a London photo with us, please do! Perhaps you joined Karen or Adam on a tour and snapped a a great shot. Drop us a line.













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