Monthly Archives: November 2011

About London

Authors of three London books – Iphgenia Baal (The Hardy Tree), Mark Mason (Walk the Lines) and Paul Talling (Derelict London, London”s Lost Rivers) – came to Lewisham Library to talk to editor Matt Brown.


The library’s so full, we’re having to put out lots more seats – the most popular event so far, it appears! Should be starting very soon now

Tonight, @Londonist co-editor Matt Brown talks to three authors of London-centric books

First to speak tonight is Mason, whose book Walk The Lines chronicles his time spent walking the length of every Tube line in London.

Mason was inspired by Phyllis Pearsall, who compiled the original A-Z map and walked every street in London. Wanted to do something similar.

Mason’s other inspiration came when stuck on the Tube – he was staring at the Tube map thinking “I could’ve walked this journey faster…!”

Mason recounts some of the things he saw on his walk, overheard conversation snippets and London and tube trivia picked up around the city.

For instance, the Monument is 202ft tall as it’s 202ft from start of Great Fire; and columns at St. Pancras were hardened with horse urine!

Second author to speak is Paul Talling, who’s really enjoyed stumbling across lost rivers around London, then researching them for his book.

Talling saw similarly titled book from the ’60s about lost London rivers, but it was quite academic; he wanted something portable, with pics

Talling enjoys taking people on walks exploring lost rivers and derelict London – with lengthy pub breaks wherever possible!

Talling selects an extract to read aimed at locals, about Deptford Dockyard, which ultimately proved too shallow & is now Convoy’s Wharf

Baal introduces her novel, which she feels captures “everything London runs on”. It’s about when the railways came to London.

The cheapest land to buy to build railways on was cemetery land. Baal’s book centres on a man with the job of arranging the great digging-up

Baal reads a short extract from her novel, then host Matt opens up the floor to questions from the audience.

First Q, to Mason and Talling, who’ve both wandered a lot of London: is there anywhere they wouldn’t want to go back to?

Talling says there isn’t – while some may suggest Woolwich, say, he’s not worried: “I’m a big boy – & there’s nothing wrong with SE London!”

Mason also perhaps pleases his SE London audience, by suggesting that he most disliked NW London, which he found parts of very depressing.

Next Q relates to London’s history as connected villages. Baal says all Londoners create their own village these days but not location-based

More Tube trivia from Mason: the first all-female-staffed tube station was Maida Vale – it opened during WWI, in 1915.

In response to another Q, the panel discusses the area around King’s Cross/St. Pancras, its safety, and the future of the big gas cylinders

Baal says her book needn’t have been set in London – it was “just a hook” for the story, unlike the others’ books of course.

Talling describes his motivation for writing his books as almost entirely for his own enjoyment – here just loves exploring derelict London

Mason talks about how his line-walking adventures have helped him form a strong relationship with the city

Mason thinks people not from London originally can form stronger bonds w/ the city; Baal, Londoner from birth, disagrees: “I own this city!”

Another great event – thanks to our panel. You know there’s serious London passion present when authors argue over who loves the city most!

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Tall Tales

After another hiatus (here’s a tip for would-be literary festival organisers: don’t immediately start working 60 hour weeks when your festival ends) we’re back to filling you in on what happened during any events you couldn’t get to. This is an easy one – it’s mainly photos. It’s hard to livetweet a night of comedy stories without giving away the gags, which would be even more of a shame since many of the performers at Tall Tales are taking their TT work to Radio 4.

If you liked Tall Tales, it takes place regularly on the final Thursday of every second month at the Good Ship in Kilburn.

Tall Tales host Robert Hudson

Hannah Jones, of the Why Miss Jones blog

Bolton poet Mike Westcott with his perhaps-not-entirely-true Wikipedia entry on Julian the Apostate

Toby Davies telling half a story about half a storey

Ian Leslie introduces an excerpt from Ernest Hemingway's brief time as an agony aunt

John Finnemore and Robert Hudson perform the roles taken by Daniel Rigby and Stephen Fry for Radio 4's Warhorses of Letters

By the way, you can buy all four episodes of Warhorses of Letters – cos you’ve missed it on Radio 4 now – on iTunes.

Susannah Pearse sang some hilarious songs, including one imploring Mr Rochester to ditch Jane Eyre

John Finnemore doing a sketch from his recent Radio 4 series


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