Thursday, 26 February 2015

The London Nightly Photoblog 26:02:15

We're almost at the end of our London Nightly Photoblog for February 2015!

These last few shots are on the theme of London Museums to tie-in with our current London Walks Podcast.

It's our last sneaky peek at London before we hit the hay.

Looking forward to seeing you all out there (and on here!) tomorrow. Nitey night!

A London Walk costs £9 – £7 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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Reflections In the Graveyard of St Bartholomew the Great

Daily Constitutional Special Correspondent David Tucker writes…

This one saddens me.

Saddens me for us, for London, for St. Bartholomew the Great, for the slumberers pictured here.

And indeed for the perps.

The photo’s over half a century old. It shows the Verger of St. Bartholomew the Great standing in the churchyard. Standing amongst some of the bowed and bent with age – time-honoured – tombstones.

Doesn’t look that way anymore. And that’s what saddens me.

About – it must be 30 years ago now – a couple of vandals went in there one night with sledge hammers and attacked the tombstones. Broke them off. All of them, apart from a lone survivor. Were they interrupted before they could do that last one? I was there a day or two later. And there they were, broken off – the fallen ­– lying beside their stumps.

It was cruel. Like taking a sledge hammer to a mouth of haggard, doing-their-best, old teeth.

The stumps are still there. Just an inch or two above ground. We go there on my Shakespeare’s & Dickens’ London Walk on Sunday afternoon. Lots of literary connections. And for me – and almost certainly only me on that Sunday afternoon stroll – the extra connection. Those old stumps and what they bring to mind.

When I go there I often think about the perps. They’ll be old men now. Well, 50-ish anyway. I wonder, do they ever think about that night? How do they feel now about what they did?

Here’s a poem for them. Poetry – amongst other good things – heals. Sometimes. It’s a poem by the great Portuguese poet, Fernando Pessoa. Pessoa, who wrote about his city, Lisbon – lines that seem apropos here –

Once again I see you – Lisbon…
Phantom wandering the halls of memory,
To the squealing of rats and the squeaking of boards…

Once again I see you,
Shadow passing through shadows,
Shining for one moment in an unknown, funereal light,
Then entering the night like a ship's wake disappearing,
In water slowly become inaudible . . .

Once again I see you,
But myself, alas, I fail to see!
Shattered, the magical mirror where I saw myself identical,
And in each fateful fragment I descry only a piece of myself ---
A piece of you and of myself . . .

But the poem for perps is this one. It’s called “In the Terrible Night.”

In the Terrible Night

In the terrible night, natural substance of all nights,
In the night of insomnia, natural substance of all my
I remember, awake in tossing drowsiness,
I remember what I’ve done and what I might have
done in life.
I remember, and an anguish
Spreads all through me like a physical chill or a fear,
The irreparable of my past – this is the real corpse.
All other corpses may very well be illusion.
All the dead may be alive somewhere else,
All my own past moments may be existing somewhere
In the illusion of space and time,
In the fallibility of elapsing.

But what I was not, what I did not do, what I did not
even dream;
What only now I see I ought to have done,
What only know I clearly see I ought to have been –
This is what is dead beyond all the Gods,
this – and it was, after all, the best of me – is what not
even the Gods bring to life…

If at a certain point
I had turned to the left instead of to the right;
If at a certain moment
I had said yes instead of no, or no instead of yes;
If in a certain conversation
I had hit on phrases which only now, in this
half-sleep, I elaborate –
If all this had been so,
I would be different today, and perhaps the whole
Would be insensibly brought to be different as well.

But I did not turn in the direction which is irreparably
Not turn or even think of turning, and only now I
perceive it;
But I did not say no or say yes, and only now see what
I didn’t say;
But all the phrases I failed to say surge up in me at present,
all of them,
Clear, inevitable, natural,
The conversation gathered in conclusively,
The whole matter now resolved…
But only now what never was, nor indeed shall be,

What I have missed definitely holds no sort of hope
In any sort of metaphysical system.
Maybe I could bring what I have dreamed to some
other world,
But could I bring to another world the things I forgot
to dream?
These, yes, the drams going begging, are the real
I bury it in my heart forever, for all time, for all universes,

In this night when I can’t sleep and peace encircles me
Like a truth which I’ve no share in,
And the moonlight outside, like a hope I do not have
is invisible to me

Fernando Pessoa

The detonator lines for me – in this context – are:
If at a certain moment
I had said… no instead of yes…
If in a certain conversation
I would be different today, and perhaps the whole universe
Would be insensibly brought to be different as well.

In the Terrible Night indeed.


A London Walk costs £9 – £7 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The #London Nightly Photoblog 25:02:15 #ForestHill #SE23

The London Nightly Photoblog is our last look at London before lights out. 

This week our pics have a museum theme to tie-in with our new London Walks Podcast on London Museums.

Thanks to everyone who joined us today – see you tomorrow!

A little bit of Alaska in Forest Hill

A London Walk costs £9 – £7 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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A Cartoon & Comic Book Tour of #London No.16: Fleet Street @DC_Thomson @BeanoComic @PrivateEyeNews

Our new series for 2015! Daily Constitutional editor Adam takes us on a Cartoon & Comic Book Tour of London – 20 stops on a metropolis-wide search for all things illustrated. 

He'll be taking in everything from Gillray and Hogarth, to Scooby Doo and on to Deadpool and beyond! In addition he'll guide you to the best in London comic book stores as well as galleries that showcase the best in the cartoonist's art. 

Panel No.16: Fleet Street

We can’t leave out Fleet Street on our Cartoon and Comic Book Tour of London – even though the national newspaper industry has long since abandoned its spiritual home.

Fleet Street as a metonym, however, is still going strong. And it doesn’t seem to want to go away. Twenty-first century TV and radio presenters still refer to the British press collectively as Fleet Street. To put this in perspective, The Daily Mail, one of the UK’s most popular papers, set up shop in Kensington as long ago as 1988. Yet Fleet Street as a moniker persists.

The nationals may have moved on, but any paper worth its salt still has a cartoonist – even though it was reported in UK Press Gazette that The Daily Express was keen to dispense with the services of their political cartoonist, news that broke back in January on the same day as the Charlie Hebdo murders.

The Express once had a cartoon legacy the envy of Fleet Street. Their strips included Rupert Bear and James Bond, and their political cartoonist was the famous Giles. No English home was complete without a copy of the Giles annual. 

Giles was a Londoner by birth, born Ronald Giles in Islington in 1916. His topical cartoons often featured the family that became his signature, headed by the doughty (and I always thought faintly sinister) Grandma. His collections are still published annually, some 20 years after his death, and can be bought in the bookshop at the Cartoon Museum.

The Daily Express is also the only British paper to publish a cartoon on its front page almost everyday since 1929 in the shape of the Crusader…

The crusader was the brainchild of legendary newspaper baron Lord Beaverbrook. Beaverbrook bought the Express in 1916 back when he was plain old Mr. Max Aitken.

The crusader was the emblem of his campaign for free trade between nations of the empire – an initiative he hoped would benefit his native Canada. In 1951 when Churchill was elected as Prime Minister, he disappointed Beaverbrook with his abandonment of traditional imperial policies. In reaction, The Beaver slapped chains on the Crusader – a gesture that was repeated when Britain was invited to join the Common Market (a forerunner of the European Community).

The Crusader remains the emblem of The Daily Express to this day.

A version of the Crusader, rather more battered and forlorn, represents our great satirical magazine Private Eye

It would be inaccurate to say that rumours of Fleet Street's death have been greatly exaggerated – no national newspapers are left here, and Reuters moved away in 2003. And since the journalists left, other despised and unpopular professions have since moved in with the arrival of the bankers and the lawyers. (How's that for an unholy trinity?) But there is one famous name left standing in the once infamous Street of Ink: D.C Thomson.

D.C Thomson is the publisher of the Dundee Courier, the People's Friend story paper and the famous Sunday Post. The titles are built into the fabric of its Fleet Street HQ…

The Sunday Post is published weekly in Dundee and features the legendary cartoon strips The Broons and Oor Wullie, originally drawn by the Lancashire-born artist Dudley D. Watkins – whose work can be seen at the Cartoon Museum in Bloomsbury.

Oor Wullie is Scotland's answer to Dennis the Menace…

…,while The Broons features a cartoon family that holds as dear a place in the hearts of Scots as Giles's family occupy in the affections of middle England…

(I have a theory about Wullie's hair: given that the creators and writers of The Simpsons plough such a rich furrow of Scottish wit with their Groundskeeper Willie character, even referencing Baron Ross of Marnock, the former Willie Ross MP in one gag – pretty nuanced stuff! – I'm prepared to stick my neck out and claim that Oor Wullie is the inspiration for Bart Simpson…)

Wullie & Bart. Separated at birth?

You can buy Broons & Oor Wullie books and merchandise direct from D.C Thomson here:

The Broons strip was famously parodied as The Broonites written by Fountain & Jamieson for Private Eye magazine, to poke fun at our former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The artwork is by the excellent Henry Davies, who works for The Beano and has also drawn for the official Broons! (He shares great cartoon related stuff via his Twitter feed @BeanoArtist and you can buy his originals direct from his website.)

You can subscribe to Private Eye magazine at

As a child growing up in Scotland it was always a race to get to the copy of The Sunday Post before my father. If my father got there first he would pore over the comics for what seemed like AGES, chuckling away whole I stood jealously by.

Oor Wullie and The Broons have appeared in The Sunday Post since 1936 and it is claimed that Watkins, along with David Low, was listed as an enemy of the Third Reich for his satirical portraits of the Nazi leadership – see our earlier post for more on that topic.

Mr. Watkins was also the creator of Desperate Dan for The Dandy (here's Dan on a first class stamp)…

… and worked for the legendary Beano – again, the last man standing of the classic British comics, and a periodical of which I remain an avid reader…

When the D.C Thomson offices closed last year for a makeover, they chose neither the Sunday Post nor the Evening Telegraph to brighten up their windows, but pages from The Beano…

Here's a map to Fleet Street and D.C Thomson's HQ…

I'll be calling by D.C Thomson on the next Publish & Be Damned walking tour, which looks at the history of journalism in Fleet Street. It meets at Temple Station at 2:30p.m on the 2nd of May 2015. I'll even bring my Broons and Oor Wullie annuals along for you to look at at… as long as you promise not to hog them for as long as my dad.

We're almost at the end of our Cartoon & Comic Book Tour of London! Still to come there's more Alan Moore in the East End, a new independent London-set comic as recommended by the folks at Orbital Comics, and we'll be pointing you in the direction of Gosh! comic book store in Soho.

A London Walk costs £9 – £7 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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