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Thread: So...This London Place, Then
25-01-2014, 12:40 PM #1
- Join Date
- Mar 2012
So...This London Place, Then
I recently finished reading A Madness of Angels, or The Resurrection of Matthew Swift. Its Urban Fantasy, true. But its a wildly different take on urban fantasy than most other authors offer. The main character is a Sorcerer, and more specifically, a city sorcerer, drawing his magic and his power from the city around him. Which happens to be London.
Which is what has me curious about a city that can inspire this sort of thing. The author talks about Cheapside and Bishop's Gate. She describes each and every little district of the city as if its a unique little world, with its own peculiar rules, customs and accepted practices. She talks about Winter in the city, when the sun rises late and is gone again from the sky by 330pm; how when measured by the length of a night's dark - or the brevity of the day's sun - Winter seems to last much longer than it does.
At any rate, after this and repeatedly treating myself to Gaiman's Neverwhere, I must say, I find myself curious about London. I would love to hear some thoughts from folks who live there, about this splendid and apparently inspirational city. About what sort of magic the place must hold to inspire such words. If anyone cares to chime in regarding the city, its districts and what its like to simply walk about the bustling metropolis - or travel the wildly complex Underground - I would love to hear what they have to say.
I think one day I must visit the city. I am very eager to see for myself what it is that has inspired so much in the way of writing, from Conan Doyle to Gaiman and now this new series. Also, for those interested in a different take on a somewhat overdone genre (Urban Fiction) I recommend the Matthew Swift series.
25-01-2014, 10:05 PM #2
There is something I found about the underground I found intriguing when I first went into london all th op se tunnels and walkways going to various places it made it seem like you could get lost and never find your way out.
26-01-2014, 12:09 AM #3
I have nothing to add to the topic as I've only been to London twice, almost ten years ago now, and found it to be a rather dreary place, but: thanks for the book recommendation. A friend of mine is crazy about London, so I'll recommend it to him."He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to
the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free". ~ Luke 4:18
26-01-2014, 09:48 AM #4
- Join Date
- Jul 2011
I loved your post, but I worry you might be rather disappointed by london. Personally, there are a number of other cities I prefer. That might just be because I'm from the UK, so it isn't exactly exotic to me. London has some great parts, but I think the overall impression is a little bit dull and dreary. You can find some really nice little local places, and some great things going on... but you can also find hundreds of pretty identical suburban streets, lots of identakit high streets full of Greggs Bakers and cheap shops. I think places like Paris (in the center at least) have a much more unified architectural style, which can leave a stronger impression. My fave cities in Europe are probably Budapest and Barcelona. (Barcelona has had some cool stories written about it). Someone from Hungary or Spain might find London more interesting though, I guess. Blackheath, Greenwich, The Globe Theatre, all the huge parks, big festivals in said parks, the tate modern and south bank, Camden, V&A Museum cafe, etc.. I kind of like those places. Note, the whole center of london (Leicester Square, Covent Garden, etc.. is a massive tourist trap, with crappy overpriced fake olde english pubs. You have to get out of the center for anything decent. The best thing about the UK is the countryside imho...
26-01-2014, 09:49 AM #5
- Join Date
- Jul 2011
Gah!! Stupid forum still kills my line-breaks. I forgot. Try to ignore the wall of text effect!
26-01-2014, 12:14 PM #6
- Join Date
- Mar 2012
Thanks Bill, handy information. If ever I should get the chance to visit London I will make a point to get out away from the tourist trap areas. I'd like to see the city as locals see it, if possible. To visit the genuine pubs and not the fakery offered up for visitors. Really handy information, and I appreciate it.
As for living somewhere making it feel less exotic...I understand that. For years I lived very close to St. Augustine, Florida, here in the US. Tourists constantly remarked on how charming it was, and for those who never left the Old Town to visit places like Walmart and McDonalds I guess that's true. For me, at the time, it was one or two exotic streets and a whole lot of mundane concrete and steel.
Now I live much further north on our over-crowded Eastern Seaboard, I would not mind seeing it again, however.
Thanks again for the post. I will have to see about getting to London one of these days.
26-01-2014, 10:27 PM #7
- Join Date
- Feb 2013
London is pretty much a cesspool, I've added three hours to my travel time on several occasions just to avoid having to spend half an hour there. Pick any other place in the UK, it's likely nicer.
27-01-2014, 11:01 AM #8
Postman's Park is a favourite spot of mine. It has its own rich history, being built on the site of a medieval graveyard. When they moved all of the burial grounds to outside of central London, the area was converted in to a park. It's most intresting feature is the The Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice, a memorial to ordinary people who died while saving the lives of others.
It's rather sobering but if you time your visit for a warm summer's day it's not too depressing.Open-faced sandwiches are upon you whether you would risk it or not.
27-01-2014, 11:31 AM #9
St. Dunstan in the East is another small but lovely place to visit. The original church was built in 1100 and patched up and rebuilt over the centuries. It was badly damaged during the blitz and the ruins were turned in to a public garden.
The garden itself is tiny but it's a nice place to sit and relax. It's in the middle of the City and surrounded by modern buildings so you get to enjoy the contrast and soak up some history.
If you want an easy peek in to the past, check out the names of some of London's Guilds. It's hard not to be intrigued by names like The Worshipful Company of Bowyers or The Worshipful Company of Armourers and Brasiers (just skip past the slightly less romantic Company of Information Technologists).
Last edited by Dubbill; 27-01-2014 at 12:31 PM.Open-faced sandwiches are upon you whether you would risk it or not.
29-01-2014, 04:58 PM #10
Some quick thoughts on London.
I've been living in London for about six and a half years now and quite honestly I've no desire to move. Yes I pine for my old home in the West Country at times, but London is a wonderful city to live. Its a ridiculous city. Its maddening and often annoying, but it is wonderful on the whole I'd say. I think that's why its inspired so many folk, because its such a contradiction. One big dumb metropolis with an insanely non-nonsensical street plan and wildly differing cultures from one place to another, it has so many different cultures and communities that somehow mesh together to form a working city. With its big mass of people, long long history and weird ways, its easy to see just how it has inspired people (including me, with a tongue-in-cheek book about London). I'm not sure how it works, it probably shouldn't, but if you just let yourself get taken along by London's insanity, its a good place to live.
Some of my favourite places are the parks. Its kind of weird how easy it is to find quiet green spots in London. I spent a large part of last summer sat under my favourite tree (which I named Trent, just so you know) in Kensington Gardens writing on my laptop, it really was one of the most pleasant working experiences I've had. There are parks all over the place, and some of them are massive.
I found the transport kind of intimidating at first, but once I got used to the bus system, oyster cards and the simple colour coding of the tube, it became so much easier. I don't particularly like using the tube myself, especially at peak time, but its damned good to have available in a pinch. Going back home to Gloucester, I'm always struck by just how awful the transport options are there.My books wot I wrote:
Read my other stories: http://tessstenson.blogspot.co.uk/
29-01-2014, 08:04 PM #11
I also think the place names also put a mystery into London, you can imagine some cool stuff with some of the place names I think this Bill Bryson quote captures it well
The best part of Underground travel is that you never actually see the places above you. You have to imagine them. In other cities station names are unimaginative and mundane: Lexington Avenue, Potsdammerplatz, Third Street South. But in London the names sound sylvan and beckoning: Stamford Brook, Turnham Green, Bromley-by-Bow, Maida Vale, Drayton Park. That isn't a city up there, it's a Jane Austen novel. It's easy to imagine that you are shuttling about under a semi-mythic city from some golden, pre-industrial age. Swiss Cottage ceases to be a busy road junction and becomes instead a gingerbread dwelling in the midst of the great oak forest known as St John's Wood. Chalk Farm is an open space of fields where cheerful peasants in brown smocks cut and gather crops of chalk. Blackfriars is full of cowled and chanting monks, Oxford Circus has its big top, Barking is a dangerous place overrun with packs of wild dogs, Theydon Bois is a community of industrious Huguenot weavers, White City is a walled and turreted elysium built of the most dazzling ivory, and Holland Park is full of windmills.