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This Other London: Adventures in the Overlooked City Hardcover – 12 Sep 2013
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‘Leave the Oyster card at home and set out in your walking shoes with Rogers as a companion – and be prepared to see London in a whole new way.’ Time Out
‘Rich with surprises …Rogers conjured up magical little worlds that we would otherwise pass by.’ Metro
‘The author’s love of exploration is infectious. Anyone who reads This Other London will find themselves with an unexpected itch to visit the Welsh Harp Reservoir or Hounslow Heath … [John Rogers is] the Brian Cox of topology, inspiring wonder and curiosity.’ Londonist
‘John is endowed with a gentle, humorous wisdom, which is evident throughout these pages… You, like me, could have no better guide than the man who has written this book.’ Russell Brand
About the Author
When he first came to London, John Rogers moved into a terraced house in Forest Gate with the ambition of living like The Young Ones. He made sense of his new environment by walking everywhere he could, making notes in a Lion Brand notebook.
He first put pen to paper writing plays, sketches, and stand-up which he performed in London fringe venues. He has worked on numerous projects with comedian Russell Brand and directed documentaries including The London Perambulator and Make Your Own Damn Art: the World of Bob and Roberta Smith. John also produced and co-presented Ventures and Adventures in Topography on Resonance 104.4fm with Nick Papadimitriou.
Most recently, he built a shed at the bottom of his garden that he painted red and green, which he is unusually proud of.
Top customer reviews
Where others detect esoteric patterns (Sinclair), striations (Richardson) or hyper-subjectivity and hyper-empiricism jumbled together (Papadimitriou), John Rogers remorselessly extracts the everyday from itself. He avoids obsessive enthusiasm: “I don’t look too hard” he writes of a “fragment of the mansion where the Langthorne monks retired”. But sometimes he looks very hard and deep indeed. Yet he explicitly dispenses with a certain kind of immersed and aesthetic walking: “I also didn’t fancy... superimposing a chest X-ray over the map and walking around my rib-cage.” He takes a swing at “what it is now fashionable to call ‘edgelands’”. He tosses strategies aside as so many prophylactics getting in the way of his direct connection to the terrain.
What Rogers seeks is an everyday “freedom” where “[T]here’s no barrier between you and the world”. Such straightforwardness characterises his wanders; just as Papadimitriou’s Stonehenge, Rogers tells us, is “the Mogden Purification Works”, so his own god is an inflatable Sonic the hedgehog and his Pan is the ivy itself.
Or so it seems...
After all, Rogers “listens to roads”.
And he is always convivial, both in his prose style and in the wonderful encounters he recounts along the way – and yet he is often solitary. A lone-ness at the heart of wandering blokedom. He is a pilgrim perpetually tempted by Soccer Sunday and tripped up by a dodgy left knee that must be fed alcohol; as thirsty as the plant from ‘Little Shop of Horrors’. Rogers is always being drawn back down to the pavement and through the pub door.
Rogers transcends all ordinariness - “I’m prepared to give reason and rationality a day off” - as he interprets London through the unsteady prism of Mrs E. O. Gordon’s Prehistoric London: Its Mounds and Circles.
Every time you think you have him framed, he damages the gilded cage and slips away. This is not a work of theory, this is a handbook disguised as a shaggy dog story. And there are so many great adventures to be savoured here. Rogers is an honest companion with a fine line in anecdotes and historoids. One final, price example: it turns out that Cricklewood Pumping Station doubled as the Titanic’s engine room in the 1958 Pinewood movie of the liner’s doomed voyage A Night To Remember. Now, when you wed that to the fact that the film also uses un-credited footage from a failed Nazi movie shot on a ship subsequently used for mass murder... then the ordinary becomes stained very dark and weird indeed .
This is a fascinating journey to interesting places off the beaten track.
John Rogers explores Londons out reaches with a in depth knowledge of the history of places around the Capital we take for granted everyday.
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Most recent customer reviews
I live in devon but was born in London, like my parents. Great to read about the parts we don't usually visit.
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