Wednesday, 4 August 2010

It’s A London Thing No.1: The Clerkenwell Other

It’s A London Thing is our new Wednesday series in which we turn the spotlight on a unique aspect of London – perhaps a curious shop, sometimes an eccentric restaurant, a hidden place, book or oddity. The subject matter will be different every week. The running theme, however, will remain constant: you have to come to London to enjoy it. It’s A London Thing.


The Clerkenwell Other is a magazine like no other. First, it’s pleasingly sizeable, feeling in the hand as if one is holding some old copy of The Illustrated London News. The look, too, delights utterly: elegant fonts head up oddball woodcuts and collage work on reassuringly heavy paper (100% recycled).

The sheer ingenious variety of the imagery in tandem with the sturdy physical feel of the magazine adds up to a sense of getting a lot of bang for your buck (£2.50 a copy).

But then perhaps it’s the heft of the words creating the feeling of substance. A paean to the London chimney hansels the proceedings, with an extract from Jake Arnott’s forthcoming novel the cherry on the cake. In between we’re treated to poetry, cartoons, ruminations on London phone codes of yore, flakes of Clerkenwell history and even a recipe – Olde English Saffron Cake, no less.

They have a website – it’s at www.theclerkenwellother.com – where you will find a list of stockists (we bought our copy in the wonderful Clerkenwell Tales bookshop on Exmouth Market on our Exmouth Market Pub Walk last month). There’s also a message at the site informing you that the magazine is not available online. And it’s all the better for not being a blog or a site: it feels like part of an old literary tradition. It’s a one off, a great read. And if you don’t read it you can enjoy the fireworks display of visuals. And even if you must remain shackled to your i-Pad/-Pod/-Phone and hold no truck with dead tree media, buy it anyway. It’s just a lovely thing.

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