For the Love of London: What makes London great by the people who make it great Hardcover – 9 Mar 2017
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Londoners who have contributed to making the city great - from Sir Paul Smith to the late Dame Zaha Hadid, from Stephen Fry to Martine Wright - share one of their favourite aspects of the capital.
About the Author
Conrad Gamble is a writer and performance poet. He has been commissioned to write poetry for 'The Book of Everyone' as well as 'Suitcase Magazine' amongst others. He has performed for Secret Cinema and at various festivals, and also curates a monthly poetry night, Ear Smoke, in Hackney, London. To see more from Conrad Gamble, Visit For-the-love.com and conradgamble.com
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Some of the people are famous: actors, artists, entrepreneurs. People you've heard of. Others are ordinary inhabitants of the cityscape - a tube train driver, a firefighter, a schoolboy. Who they are has surprisingly little bearing on how they choose to sum up the whole impossible fascination of Britain's capital.
Some dig through the layers of the city to discover the past - cabbie Robert Lordan is in love with lost waterways, buried rivers and ghost stations, while builder Leigh Dickinson's job has turned him into an amateur archaeologist, and smiling, rubber-booted Jason Sandy extols the delights of mudlarking along the Thames. For others, the past is a [lost] foreign country: gay activist Peter Cragg bemoans the loss of spaces for misfits as the city becomes more homogenised, Big Audio Dynamite's Don Letts laments the effects of gentrification, the banishment of the non-rich into dormitory suburbs. Some are more optimistic - fashion designer Paul Smith urging us to look for London above eye level, to search for the past in the tops of buildings as it floats above the perspex shop fronts and belching traffic, and magazine editor Dylan Jones insists that London's sheer power and pizzazz make it worthy to be called a city-state alongside ancient Rome or Carthage, Vatican City, or modern Hong Kong or Dubai.
The book's best moments, though, are when someone lights upon a single location that's unbearably special to them. Burlesque dancer Vicki Butterfly describing the nocturnal allure of Soho as "a beautiful woman, glistening in neon sequins and wrapped in wet tarmac." Artist Poppy Jackson exploring the liminal strangeness of walking under the Thames down the Edwardian Greenwich Foot Tunnel - "uncertain, yet secure within the flux." Globe Theatre Director Emma Rice and actor Simon Russell Beale both choosing to hymn Waterloo Bridge, echoing Ray Davies's immortal song.
Not every contribution is as interesting as this, and there were some pages I skimmed, others I skipped over altogether. But as a varied love song to modern, multicultural London, it's a literary box of chocolates. I didn't enjoy every one, but like Forrest Gump, I enjoyed turning the pages, not knowing what I was going to get.
Each little chapter/essay is an individual's take on life in England's capital and there are so many to choose from. Read one a night if you can bear to ration yourself ~ probably guarantee you a good night's sleep as well.
From Big Ade ( actor and hustler) to Peter York( author of the Official Sloane Ranger handbook) yes it is alphabetical for further ease through the likes of Stephen Fry (yes that one),, Olivia Grant,, Jemima Daisy Proudfoot and Jason Sandy (mudlark ~ what else?) each contributor brings a very personal love of the metropolis and each enchanting in its own way ; from a favourite location to a favourite memory, a recommended eatery to London as a vision.
This is a glad book to read and share and read again. Open at random and enter into a view of London, maybe one you share or maybe one that is completely new to you...
Nicely produced, good portrait photos of the contributors, good quality paper and binding.
Not a book to sit down and read from cover to cover. But lovely to dip into at random and find out something you didn't know about the city. I wouldn't want to live there (couldn't afford to either) but I do enjoy visiting it.