The first bit of London street art I saw addressing Putin's war against Ukraine appeared on Day Two of the war itself. More and more examples followed as I wandered round London over the next few weeks, including graffiti murals, home-made posters and protest stickers. I've stitched together 26 photographs of the best witty, angry and inventive pieces I've found so far into a couple of PlanetSlade collages here. [more inside]
… was a 1950s newspaper cartoon strip by the artist and historian Peter Jackson (not that one). Appearing weekly in London’s Evening News and modelled closely on Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Jackson’s strips recounted the true stories and fascinating trivia of London’s bizarre past. They’re as eye-opening today as ever, and still an excellent guide for anyone with a sense of curiosity about the city. In one 1950 strip alone, Jackson covers London’s earthquake panic of 1750, the reinforced hats worn by Billingsgate fish porters, a remarkable tomb in Bunhill Fields and where to find the West End’s clock in a barrel. Elsewhere in his career, he succeeded the great Frank Bellamy on Eagle’s Marco Polo strip and painted dozens of historic scenes for the British educational comic Look and Learn. You can see a handful of my own favourite LISTF strips in this Twitter thread and read my full PlanetSlade essay about the series and Jackson’s other work here. [more inside]
I've been out photographing the street art of my North London neighbourhood again. This time, it's the wide range of angry, witty and often very creative protest stickers adorning every lamp-post and traffic sign round here. Targets of the 50+ stickers in my online gallery include climate change, male violence, NHS austerity, Brexit and increased police powers. Others I've chosen aren't protest stickers at all, but earn a place anyway simply because they made me laugh. [more inside]
Dr Poopy's Medicinal Jam is a weekly live stream of live music, running every Tuesday evening from 7.30pm to 9.30pm UK time. Vibe leans generally towards acoustica / Americana but you never know. [more inside]
Just before Christmas I visited 30 different London charity shops, anonymously donating a signed and numbered copy of my murder ballads book to every one. My online photo clues are there to help people find the shops involved and snap up these moderately-attractive collectors’ items at a bargain price while also supporting the charity's work. The headline link here gives full details and this Twitter account has news of the results so far. [more inside]
One of the last flea pit movie theatres in London is being re-opened in a Luxe version. Maybe no one else will miss it, but I wanted to say goodbye to Odeon Panton Street.
Cormoran Strike's world is about 95% straight-up real. I started by looking on Google to see where Strike's office is on Denmark Street and then I got drawn in, so here's a map with locations from all three Robert Galbraith books – separated into layers – plus a layer of locations each specific to Strike and Robin. [more inside]
Back in the eighties when I should have been studying, I ran a magazine covering London's pirate radio stations and their battles to stay on the air and go legal. At amfm.org.uk you can read the stories of the 25 most important unlicensed stations of the eighties like Kiss-FM, Radio Jackie and DBC, listen to an audio history of London pirate radio from 1975-1990 and dig into all eighteen issues of TX Magazine. [more inside]
Seven Kings for Seven Sisters is my attempt at actually writing that story that always seems to be lurking behind London railway station names. Cannot promise: artistic quality, meaningfulness. Can promise: lots of station name puns, dubious rhymes, Ford the bridge-playing cat. Six installments up so far, the next is going up on Friday.
Southwark’s Cross Bones graveyard began life as a dumping ground for the medieval Bishop of Winchester’s dead whores. Today, it's a shrine to our own era’s outcast dead, where 50,000 people a year attend regular vigils led by a shamanic local writer and attach their own offerings to the site gates. PlanetSlade's latest free book is the most comprehensive history yet of this fascinating burial ground, and you can read it all at the link above. [more inside]
For the past couple of months, I've been researching the final hours of Dr William Kirwan, a Victorian doctor strangled to death as he wandered the slums of London's notorious Southwark. Kirwan turned up there in the small hours with an alcoholic street whore one October morning in 1892, seeming barely to know who he was. He'd left a Canning Town pub perfectly sober the previous night, but never made it home. We don’t know what happened to him during that missing night, but we do know it got him murdered just a few hours later. [more inside]
Learn to bake your bread and sourdough by hand in England, using simple ingredients and age-old techniques. You will never need to buy factory made bread again! Our Bread Blog has lots of top bread tips including my best tip, a brioche recipe that really works, weekly sourdough and sourdough breadsticks. We have developed a free e-book with recipes, hints and tips on how to make bread and sourdough, and we've just launched our own Android App.
is a virtual jukebox oozing with time-delayed, glitchy fun. Streaming live over the web, London and Kumamoto will be joined in a sing off to end all sing offs. The first GLTI.CH KARAOKE event will laugh in the face of the nine hour time difference, of poor bandwidth, bad lip syncing, and terrible foreign language translations. All that matters is that the interwebs keep running and the participants keep on singing. From our first event we will encourage a whole series GLTI.CH Karaoke happenings. Using webstreaming software our eventual aim is to link up multiple cities across the globe for an all-out, Noon til Noon, 24 hour Karaoke marathon. This means we need YOU to help host future events, with all proceeds raised going to The Japan Society Tohoku Earthquake Relief Fund. [more inside]
Since May 2009, PlanetSlade has been bringing you the true stories behind classic murder ballads like Stagger Lee, Knoxville Girl and Hattie Carroll. The site’s latest essay details my efforts to write a fresh set of lyrics in this old tradition, describing a real 2004 murder near my home in North London. The victim was a young Somali prostitute, picked up by her killer while working the streets around King’s Cross. Her death was barely reported at the time, which is one reason I decided to try and commemorate her in song. The folk singer Pete Morton liked my first set of lyrics enough to add some music and record them for me (free download here), and Iowa’s own Scott Riley shot some YouTube footage of himself performing my second version of the song – again, with his own music. PlanetSlade previously: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.