Sunday, 30 September 2018

The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride

DC Editor Adam writes…


Guiding a tour on an open top bus for Premium Tours today in bright, sunny London when the sound of motorcycle engines drowned-out my commentary!

What a spectacle - tweed jackets, Prince of Wales check three-piece suits, bow ties and classic bikesThe Distinguished Gentleman's Ride was in town!



The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride is a world-wide event where bikers don their classic and vintage glad rags, hop on their classic and vintage bikes and raise money and awareness for men's health charities.

The London ride raised more than £200,000 with 800+ riders taking part - well done all!


Find out more here: www.gentlemansride.com/about/







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Saturday, 29 September 2018

A Love Letter To Warren Street Tube

DC Editor Adam writes…


This past summer I have been changing at Warren street tube regularly as I make my early-morning way to Victoria Coach Station to lead sightseeing tours on an open top bus for Premium Tours. 

These tube changes have reminded me of an old post from The Daily Constitutional archive from my It's A London Thing series. I'm re-blogging a slightly re-written & updated version here…




Warren Street. Could be the pen name of a crime fiction writer. Or a minor celeb who hasn’t worked since he played the baddie in EastEnders twelve years ago.

Lets be frank. There’s not much there, above ground that is. Nearby Fizrovia is fascinating, of course. But with French’s bookshop now gone, and with apologies to the second hand camera place… well that’s pretty much it for the immediate vicinity of the station itself.

Which makes it, for my money, a Londoner’s station. If you see someone getting off here, then the chances are they know something you don’t. Or they are soon going to know something you don’t, given the close proximity of University College London.

Just down the line at Tottenham Court Road, passengers leave the train with all the eager haste of pre-pubescent girls mobbing a boy band.

At Euston Station, which comes just before Warren Street, the crowds swarm aboard the tube train like adults taking flight having just heard that boy band sing.

Not so Warren Street. Londoners dribble off the train here in comparatively small numbers. Many of them will be changing trains, heading for Oxford Circus (70 million passengers in 2010) or Waterloo (81.5 million). Compare that with around 14 million for Warren Street.

Silent. Warren Street station


A Cinderella station? No, I don't think that's quite right…

If you wanted a "type" for Warren Street, he's more PBM. Proper Boyfriend Material. Warren Street isn’t flash, it’s steady and reliable and won’t let you down. It will wait until you’ve had your fun with that flash Harry Leicester Square, and danced a three-lined tango with Victoria. Dependable ol' Warren Street. Always there for you.

Two lines run through Warren Street, the quiet man of Zone 1.

The Victoria line dates from 1968, and its Warren Street platforms feature a maze or labyrinth motif… geddit? Orange in colour, it is Warren Street’s one concession to the Swinging Sixties






The Northern Line platforms date from the early 20th century and have delicious, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it detailing with an Edwardian flavour; the curly, reassuring Way Out signs on the tiles; the station’s former name, Euston Road, can be seen on the Northern Line platform. 


Best of all, the darker tiles on the Northern Line platform, inlaid against the dominant creamy hued background. As the train speeds through, these dark tiles seem to be black in colour. On close inspection, however, they are the deepest blue, rich, midnight blue. It is a lovely detail and very Warren Street: subtle. Waiting patiently to be discovered. Not making a fuss. Photographs can't do the colour justice. Get up close and have a look next time.

Warren Street Station. It’s a London Thing.






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Friday, 28 September 2018

28 Days Later – London's Best Horror Movie?

DC Editor Adam asks…

So what's the best London horror movie of 'em all?

Halloween is fast approaching and I'm a sucker for a horror movie at the best of times. I've complied a short series of Mini Tours for The Daily Constitutional charting the locations of London Horror Movies starting with 28 Days Later




Ever complained that London is too crowded? See this movie and you’ll never want to have the city’s streets to yourself again.

In Danny Boyle’s relentless horror from 2002, a virus has been unleashed on the capital turning its residents into flesh eating zombies who stalk the deserted streets looking for prey. An overturned bus on a silent Westminster Bridge; a rat-swarmed Blackwall Tunnel; Docklands laid waste: chilling images of a deserted London that will stay in the imagination as long as there are ravens at The Tower. London as you’ve never seen her before: and as you’ll never want to see her again.

Here's the trailer (careful now, adults only)…



The Westminster Bridge scene sees Big Ben, the ticking heart of London fallen silent. At the northern end of Westminster Bridge we find a statue of Queen Boudicca, router of the Romans, by Thomas Thornycroft. 



Star of her very own horror story, Boudicca was scourged by the Romans for insurrection, her two daughters raped by the occupying forces. Fighting back, she burned Londinium to the ground. She is said to have poisoned herself rather than fall into Roman hands once more and legend further has it that she is buried beneath modern day King's Cross Station.

Westminster Bridge is also said to have its own apparition, visible at the stroke of midnight on the 31st December and taking the shape of a male figure in 19th Century evening dress and a top hat… ring any bells? Other than that of Big Ben? Why, it's none other than Jack the Ripper at the wrong end of the District Line leaping to his death in 1888…







The Blackwall Tunnel scene in 28 Days Later piles horror-upon-horror as a plague of rats flees the flesh eating zombies. Even the rats fear the undead…






The Blackwall Tunnel is said to have its own ghost, a tale that appears in various forms, the details shapeshifting from one telling to the next. Here's the tale as your correspondent heard it…

Back in 1972 a motorcyclist picked up a hitchhiker in the Blackwall Tunnel. The hitcher was bound for Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. With the hitchhiker safely aboard the pillion, the biker roared off through the tunnel… only to find that his passenger had vanished when he drove out into the open. Frantically he searched for the missing hitcher, to no avail.

Next day, the biker resolved to check the address given in Leigh-on-Sea, where he found that a person answering the description of the hitcher had indeed lived there… until their death some several years before.






Join me on the Ghosts of the Old City Tour with London Walks on Saturday 29th September 2018 and then again on the 2nd, 6th, 9th, 13th, 23rd, 27th & 30th October 2018. Book here…






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Thursday, 27 September 2018

The Kensington Playlist – Queen

DC Editor Adam writes…

I’m out and about today leading two private group walking tours in Kensington. 


Two weeks ago I started my Kensington Playlist as an accompaniment to my Kensington tours. You can catch up with that post - and the playlist – HERE: www.thedailyconstitutional.co.uk/2018/09/arthurbliss

Today I'm adding track 3 – Killer Queen by Queen…




Freddie Mercury lived in Kensington (see map below) and worked with Queen drummer Roger Taylor on a stall at the old hippie hangout Kensington Market.

Of all the Queen songs that I could have chosen – surely Bohemian Rhapsody is the most obvious choice – I have gone for Killer Queen. Why? Well it has all the elements of a great Queen song. The words are histrionic and witty. Freddie Mercury's star-studded lyric paints a vivid and outlandish picture of glamorous excess. Syllabically, it is so tightly packed that it almost functions as an additional rhythm instrument.

Musically it's highly contagious, real earworm stuff. It's a great pop song length - i.e. not too long (which is not always the case with Queen). Finally it has great rock elements among all the theatricality - Brian May's solos here are, I think, among his best, so clipped yet passionate – along with those lush vocal harmonies.


Here's the playlist so far – with Queen joining Hubert Parry and Arthur Bliss…





Freddie Mercury's former home in Kensington remains a place of pilgrimage for fans from all across the globe…



… although the shrine pictured here was removed in 2017…



Freddie lived in Logan Place, Kensington…








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Wednesday, 26 September 2018

The Rock'n'Roll London Tour This Friday

DC Editor Adam writes…

Following on from yesterday's post on books relating to my London tours, here's my music book vlog My Back Pages







I launched My Back Pages (named for the 1965 Bob Dylan song) late last year.

Episode one deals with Andrew Loog Oldham's Stoned and its sequel 2Stoned.


Loog Oldham was the manager, rock svengali and young turk who shaped the Stones as the anti-Beatles. His first volume of autobiography – Stoned (1998) tells the tale of his youth and his meeting the self-styled World’s Greatest Rock’n’Roll Band. It is a great read.

The second volume – appropriately entitled 2Stoned – gets down to the nitty gritty.

OIdham’s tale is unique indeed. Few had such a close view of the so-called Swinging Sixties in London. And few have allowed other voices into their story. Oldham, always the radical, has no fear in this quarter.

His narrative bowls along with stylishly-honed tales of drunkenness and cruelty, yet… every so often he steps aside to allow someone else to chip in. Townshend, Marianne Faithfull, Al Kooper, Nick Cohn, John Paul Jones and many more – provide a Greek chorus of asides and contradictions that helps to make this one of the best of all rock’n’roll reads.



Here's the trailer for Friday's Rock'n'Roll London Walk which meets at 2pm Tottenham Court Road station (exit 1).





To book for the Rock'n'Roll London walk this Friday 28th with London Walks - meeting at Tottenham Court Road tube 2pm - Click the button…





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Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Fagin The Jew by Will Eisner

DC Editor Adam writes…


I'm leading the Unknown East End tour for London Walks on Sunday 7th October. Meet me at Whitechapel tube at 2pm.

The most common question that comes up along the route of my tours is "Can you recommend a good book about this tour?" The answer is of course a resounding "Yes!" and has also been the subject of many a blog post here on The Daily Constitutional.


For the Unknown East End tour I've taken to recommending a graphic novel – which still raises eyebrows in some quarters.






Will Eisner's 2003 work Fagin The Jew takes the form of an interview conducted by Dickens with Fagin (of Oliver Twist infamy) on the night before the latter is hanged.

The narrative is a bold confrontation of anti-Semitic stereotypes in literature and, as such, is powerful indeed. Eisner's approach reminds me of that of a method actor getting into a role: where does the character come from? How did he get to be this way? 

As Fagin's journey is unfolded, we learn of the plight of the Ashkenazi Jews in London (one of the central planks of my walk on Sunday), the hardships and prejudices they endured. These, Eisner suggests, are the factors that shaped Fagin's character. The Fagin that emerges by the book's end is a far more complex individual than the villain in Dickens's original.

In encouraging us to walk a mile in another man's shoes, Eisner ends up penning a Graphic Novel not only for Fagin, nor only for the Jewish immigrant experience, but for every Londoner. If you are a Londoner who is as proud as I am of the slogan #LondonIsOpen, Eisner's Fagin the Jew is a must read.


Will Eisner (1917 - 2005) was a writer and cartoonist who is widely credited with coining and popularising the phrase Graphic Novel. His 1985 book Comics & Sequential Art hanseled the modern era of comics as vehicles capable of carrying complex and sophisticated stories worthy of critical analysis.

If that all sounds a bit high falutin, here's Allan Moore to cut through the BS:  

"Eisner is the single person most responsible for giving comics its brains."



Stan Lee put it pretty well, too: 

"Will Eisner was to comics what Babe Ruth was to baseball."


Fagin the Jew is published by Dark Horse. 

Ask me all about it on my tour. Meet me at 2pm Sunday 7th October, Whitechapel tube. The walk costs £10/£8 pay on the day or book now via my online shop Pay-A-Tour. Click the sign to book…


https://payatour.co.uk/products/the-unknown-east-end-with-adam-scott





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Monday, 24 September 2018

The Monday Photoblog… London Light

DC Editor Adam Scott writes…

Monday is ALMOST mute here on The Daily Constitutional. We always launch the week with a few London photos, grouped on a theme or neighbourhood.






Today - 24th September 2018 - I've been drawn to the light here in London 



I started the day at Victoria Coach Station leading a sightseeing tour at 7.30a.m. Here's the sunrise creeping across the Art Deco building that houses the station…



By the end of my second sightseeing tour - a glorious day for an open-top bus ride – the windows of the Victoria Tower were catching the western sun…




A wander over to St Paul's was next (nearing 7pm)…





With pink dusk at Tower Hill just before 8pm…




A Jack the Ripper walking tour with London Walks was next, where we blundered into the artificial light of a movie set - The Fast & the Furious is filming here in London…



Come and join me on a tour. You can book for ALL my public, scheduled London Walks Tours in September via my online shop Pay-A-Tour. Click the button below for the full schedule…








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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