Saturday, 16 February 2019

Thanks To Everyone Who Joined Me On The London Horror Story Tour Tonight

DC Editor Adam writes…

Just arrived back home after a rather lovely night in the company of some horrible people… at least I'm assuming they were horrible in so much as none of 'em so much as flinched at my tales of ghosts, garrotting and ghouls on tonight's London Horror Story tour.

Thanks to Jeremy Morley for capturing this pic along the route of the tour - in the shot I'm outside the Old Bailey shouting like a Church of Scotland minister…

 

Right now I'm sitting down to make a few notes for a new London Horror Story podcast, blogpost and map on Kim Newman's excellent Anno Dracula series of novels. I've only recently finished the series and I loved every bloody, witty, clever page – especially the London scenes (of course).

In the meantime, here's a podcast from the archive – The Famous Monsters of Movieland part one. the first half deals with the legend of the werewolf in folklore and on the big screen, with the second half looking at the classic screen vampire Nosferatu.



The Famous Monsters of Movieland No.1… The Werewolf & Nosferatu






My next outing with the London Horror Story tour is on 2nd March 2019. Click the button to book…


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Friday, 15 February 2019

Dracula In London

DC Editor Adam writes…

I'm leading the London Horror Story tour this Saturday night - meet me at St paul's tube at 7.30pm

Ahead of the tour, a few words on a London Horror plaque…



Commemorating: Bram Stoker at 18 St Leonard's Terrace SW3


Bram Stoker (1847 – 1912) leaves one helluva bloody smear on the landscape of English fiction – his 1897 epistolary novel Dracula.

His personal mark, like those of many an Irish man of letters, is left all over London. His name is carved into the stone of the Lyceum Theatre in the West End, where he worked for Sir Henry Irving for 27 years.

He worked also at the Prince of Wales Theatre and on Fleet Street, on the staff at the Daily Telegraph.

He died in St George’s Square, Pimlico, SW1 and his ashes are at Golders Green Crematorium – where his urn can be viewed by special appointment only.

Two summers ago, I took the cast of the Lion King in search of Bram at the Lyceum Theatre. Here's what we got up to…







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Thursday, 14 February 2019

The Kensington Playlist Track 6: Alma Cogan & Dreamboat

DC Editor Adam writes…

Another musical-themed post to follow-on from yesterday's Leonard Cohen map. Today I'm updating my Kensington Playlist – music, composers, acts and lyricists associated with the London Borough of Kensington – ahead of my Kensington tour this afternoon.


Singer Alma Cogan joins Hubert Parry, Arthur Bliss, Queen and Flanders & Swann on the playlist today. Her plaque can be found on High Street, Kensington…

The brightest British star of the pre-Beatles era, Alma Cogan enjoyed chart success with her breezy, traditional pop tunes from 1954 to 1960.

Her cheerful style (she was billed as “The Girl with the Laugh in her Voice”) took her to Number 1 with Dreamboat in 1955 and an appearance on the fabled Ed Sullivan Show in 1957.

Her Blue Plaque is on the apartment block where she lived and staged her legendary showbiz parties. On any given night at 44 Stafford Court, High Street Kensington one could run into Lionel Bart, Cary Grant, Michael Caine or Noel Coward.

Lennon and McCartney were no strangers to Alma's famous parties – Alma and The Beatles first met at rehearsals for TV's Sunday Night At the London Palladium in January 1964. Lennon nicknamed her Sarah Sequin. Rumours persist that the two had an affair.

Alma was one of the first ports of call for McCartney when he composed what would become Yesterday. Beatle legend tells us that the song arrived to McCartney in a dream, and he wasn't completely sure if the song was perhaps a "borrowed" melody from another, older tune. In checking it with Cogan – an expert in the field of showtunes and American Songbook – the singing star seems to have assumed that the Beatle was offering her exclusive recording rights to the song. While she did go on to record the number (along with Ticket to Ride and Eight Days A Week) she was just one of many. It's often said that Yesterday is the most recorded pop song of all time.

The number I've added to the Kensington Playlist is Alma's only UK No.1 from 1955 Dreamboat – being representative of her breezy style.

 A Londoner through-and-through, she was born in Whitechapel as Alma Angela Cohen to Russian Jewish immigrant parents and lived in Kensington for fifteen years until her death, at the age of 36 from ovarian cancer, in 1966.





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Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Famous Blue Raincoat – Leonard Cohen In London 1959

DC Editor Adam writes…

Terrific reading (as usual) in this month's Uncut magazine – the cover story is on Leonard Cohen and the stories behind his most famous albums…




I'm in a real Leonard Cohen frame of mind at the moment, having just re-read Sylvie Simmons' epic biography I'm Your Man



Inspired by both Uncut and Simmons, I've put together a five location map of Leonard Cohen's London. It's based on his first trip here, way back in 1959, when he lodged in Hampstead, at 19b Hampstead High Street…

60 Years On – 19b Hampstead High Street in 2019


From this base he explored Soho and the East End and worked on his first novel.


Click through the map to find short descriptions of the locations, pictures, links to music and to Sylvie Simmons website - her book is the basis for the map.

You can buy I'm Your Man here: http://sylviesimmons.com/books/

(Be sure to check out her excellent work on Serge Gainsbourg and Johnny Cash while you are there.)

Here's the map…





And here are the 7 Leonard Cohen songs that I absolutely could not live without…





What's your favourite Leonard Cohen song?







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Tuesday, 12 February 2019

The Internet – Do You Remember the First Time?

DC Editor Adam writes… I was wandering through Fitzrovia on Saturday morning and was reminded of this question…

"Have you been on the internet yet?"



The building in my picture (above) is a restaurant in deepest Fitzrovia. Once upon a time it was the home of an internet cafe.

Internet cafe. How quaint.

Back in the 90s a friend of mine, studying at Birkbeck, had some research to do for a project. Her tutor had suggested that she do her research on the internet. She asked me and two other friends to accompany her. 

Going online was clearly a four-person job in the olden days.

"I need to go online," she said, with a confidence that was not entirely convincing. "Will you come with me?"

She may have said "on THE line" – and I may not have corrected her. Such were the dark days of the 1990's. 

We ordered our coffee, took our seats around a computer, and my pal shuffled the "mouse" on her "mouse mat".

Mouse mats. Remember them?

The pointer thingy zoomed around the screen like some annoying fly and we were off, off into the 21st century.

Her research only took half the time she had paid for. "Shall we look at something else?"

Why not? We had, after all, to queue for the computer (!), may as well make the most of the time.

The thing is, nobody knew what to look for.

This, gentle reader, is how we lived before cat videos on YouTube and social media. O! The deprivation!

One of our party suggested a virtual tour (how fancy!) of the Louvre… but being unable to find the Louvre online – it's possible that they may not have had a website at this point – we plumped for the National Gallery instead. 

After looking at postage stamp size pics of one or two paintings in the National Gallery (it would have been quicker to walk down the road to the gallery itself, such was the pre-broadband loading speed) we were informed that our time was up and gave up our place to the next cyber pioneer in the queue.

Older folks (EVEN older than I) in this country often recall the thrill of the first time they saw TV. In the UK, many people first watched moving pictures on a small screen in 1953, the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. In comparison with the tales of that legendary broadcasting experience, I felt rather short-changed.

My summation of the whole internet experience? I didn't think it would catch on.












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Friday, 8 February 2019

My London Walks Tours 11th - 16th February 2019

DC Editor Adam writes…

Join me on a London Walks tour next week - all tours bookable in advance, click the links below…



A Village In Piccadilly

Monday 11th February

Meet at Piccadilly Circus tube (by Eros) 2.00pm


Fancy shops and royal traditions…

£10/£8 Pay on the day or book now…



Inside Covent Garden

Thursday 14th February

Meet at Covent Garden Tube 10.00a.m


The West End revealed - looking beyond the shops and chain caf├ęs to the rich history of London's playground. Where possible, we'll take in a few interiors, too.

Tour ends in Trafalgar Square

£10/£8 Pay on the day or book now…




Old Kensington

Thursdays 14th February

Meet at High Street Kensington tube

A walking tour of London's royal village…



£10/£8 Pay on the day or book now…




The London Music Tour


Friday 15th February

2pm Tottenham Court Road tube (exit 1) 

The history of pop and rock music in London…


£10/£8 Pay on the day or book now…






London Horror Story

Saturday 16th February

Meet at St Paul's tube 7.30pm



Ghosts, murder and mayhem - 2,000 years of dark history


£10/£8 Pay on the day or book now…













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Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Half Term On The Way – Make Your Own London Board Game

DC Editor Adam writes…

With half term on the way here in London, I'm re-blogging this post (first published in August 2016) on how to make your own London-themed board game …



I'd like to begin this post by acknowledging that it is probably in breach of more copyrights than I can count. I'm proceeding with it nevertheless in the hope that neither myself or my nine-year-old daughter will be dragged off to prison because we are, a) Not hoping to exploit/breach these copyrights for personal financial gain and, b) We have no malice in our hearts and were merely amusing ourselves on a rainy Summer afternoon in London! 

So here we go…


Yesterday was one of those Summer days in London when the balmy sky… just won't stop crying


"Shall we play a board game?" I asked my nine-year-old daughter Isobella as the heavens opened. 

The thought of a long afternoon/evening/night/morning/afternoon, etc, etc, playing an epic game of Double Board Monopoly* greatly lifted the gloom of the rainy weather. (*I'll blog about Double Board Monopoly another day: it's the work of the very devil and once you've tried it, you'll never want to go back to the standard game again.)


"Shall we play a board game?"

"No," she replied, decisively, "let's MAKE a board game."


We had been chatting on-and-off about it for a couple of years now: the idea of a board game that raced around the London Underground map. We'd bought a map from the London Transport Museum shop and some mounting board from an art shop. We'd come up with a few ideas for cards, inspired by our beloved Monopoly, but that was as far as we'd got. Until yesterday.

The combination of the rainy afternoon and a visit last week to the Transport Museum in Covent Garden had fired our imaginations again. 


First step was to make the board.

We stuck the tube map to the mounting board (we're going to tape down the edges to give the game a longer lifespan, we don't want it to peel and tear)…





Then Isobella designed a logo to cover up the serial number bit on the mounting board. She chose the name Mind The Gap





… and while she was doing that, I typed and printed the game cards –DestinationChange & Gamble! – on medium-weight card using the closest font to Johnston (the Tube font) that I could find, which was Gill Sans…



Then we cut out the cards so that they looked like this…




Next, Isobella marked the spot on the board where the cards are placed…









During gameplay it looks like this…



As we went along with the making, we drew up some rules:


To begin, place your token at East Finchley on the Northern Line (our home station, but you can choose your own local station if you make your own version)…



(The token & die were borrowed from other board games)



Throw a six to start then draw a Destination Card to determine the station where your journey will end…




Throw again and move your token the number of spaces shown on the die.

If you land on an interchange station, draw a Change Card and follow the instruction written on it (e.g Go Back 3 StopsStay On This Line, etc)…



If your Change Card moves you forward/backward to another interchange you do NOT draw another Change Card, your turn ends and the next player rolls the die.

If your Change Card instructs you to change lines…



… you should do so on your next turn. If multiple lines are available you must announce which line you are changing to. We worked out that finer detail after a bit of an argument at Embankment with a move on the District and Circle lines. But we're friends again now.

If you need to change lines, you have to do so at an interchange station. You can interrupt your turn to stop at an interchange station, e.g if you throw a five but reach an interchange station within three moves, you can choose to forfeit your two additional moves. If you choose to do so, your turn ends. You cannot change onto another line without stopping at an interchange station unless instructed to do so by a card.


If you throw a 2 or a 5, draw a Gamble! card and follow the instructions. Here are a few examples…

"You fell off the platform! Go To The Whittington Hospital at Archway" (Seriously, kids: Mind The Gap. Really.)


"You have tickets to see Adele at the Olympic Stadium" (Ergo, advance to West Ham. Isobella is a big Adele fan)
"You have lost your teddy Go to Lost Propety (sic) office in Baker Street"


Other faves include "You have tickets to see Spurs - go to Seven Sisters" (Isobella is a Spurs fan); "Tube Strike – Go Home" (i.e back to the beginning).


My favourite Gamble! card of all is: "You spill your drink on the passenger [player] to your right. Miss a go. Also the passenger [player] to your right has to go home to change clothes." Like all the best board games, it's harsh.



The winner is the player who reaches their destination first.


We're still ironing out a few kinks, but it was a blast making it.

If you decide to make your own version at home (ooh! I feel like a Blue Peter presenter!) then do drop me a line and a pic!




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