Archive for the ‘history’ Category

Phew. Three years since I last posted on this blog. Over the past 10 days I probably bored the pants off some of you with the ‪#‎carnegielibrary‬ hashtag on Twitter so apologies for that (I don’t really). The closure of our Carnegie Library by Lambeth Council started out as a local issue 300 yards from […]

Weala Broc


Hypnotised by the history in ancient lanes, psychogeographers continue downstream through Tokenhouse Yard towards the great parapet of the Bank of England.

.. At the finale of their folksy choreography, the men stretched up with hankies towards the bunting – a tribal worship to the national divinity like pagan prayers in neolithic Stonehenge.

Not far from where Barbara Hepworth’s bronze Divided Circle once impressed us before its brutal execution, a Peace Pillar between two Cabbage Palms with the words ‘May Peace Prevail on Earth’ – looks overwhelmed, a Hiroshima-inspired memorial being buried in the depths of a nuclear winter.

Everyday street spectacles: Tragic fires or the rioting mob, there are countless, similarly documented events in this century that bring nearer the sum total of an organic metropolis. Throughout the ages London has itself repeated – scenarios forever rewound. In the aftermath of the Blitz, bomb sites reverted to nature with species not seen since genteel Tudor times.

Sacred Acres


“When the Norman King William commissioned the Domesday book in 1086, the land that is now Stratford was a hotbed of industry: Gunpowder; distilling and timber milling.. These are now brand havens, sacred acres, protected by Rapier surface-to-air missiles and walkie-talkie foot patrols.

The face of a young Francesco I de’ Medici adorns a construction screen, sporting a single marker penned tear while blue cable piping sprouts like an industrial Triffid from an underground concrete society. It is as if the spirits of the dynasty are posthumously mourning the slow death of their great city that once led every aspect of European thinking.

On the Wall


I heard the early calls of kestrels and sheep and the Michelin drone of car tyres on the B6318 below. Fifty miles south was the rest of England while to the north was Kielder Forest and the modern Borders. A South-Westerly blew and I hauled up my rucksack. Here a Roman once stood shivering, his back to the cold and eyes to the north while scanning the forests for the blood-thirsty enemy.

No emergency exits. No hot-wire lines to the surface. No helmets, whistles and no safety glasses. No canary or Davy Lamps or steel-capped boots. No harnesses, stretchers nor defibrillators. Twenty years ago this tour would have been an adventure but now my visual senses are used to fluorescent greens and oranges – the new prime colours. It sounded pretty vague and well, risky.

Von Braun as we know, has another place in history. Without him, Neil Armstrong would never have reached the moon to fluff his crackly ‘Mankind’ lines in 1969. I wonder though how many survivors of the Woolworths V-2 tragedy sat and watched that miracle for humanity in ignorant bliss?