The talk on underground London, one of the events for the Illumini show in the basement of Shoreditch Town Hall, went very well. Yes, Hoxton and Shoreditch are even more trendy than ever, as I found out as I walked up Shoreditch High Street on the previous night to attend the preview. There was a long queue of hundreds of people blocking most of the pavement so I had to walk in the road - I assumed that a new nightclub had opened or The Libertines were playing a secret show - before the reality dawned on me that they were waiting to get into the Illumini exhibition. I overheard a young man saying to his companions, "Yeah, they're opening up the secret tunnels under the town hall"; actually they are only disused basements and cellars, but word gets around so quickly these days thanks to mobiles and Twitter that a lot of the crowd probably thought it was going to be a huge party. I managed to convince the bouncer on the door that I was a speaker and jumped the queue, otherwise I wouldn't have got in.
The art itself was the very mixed bag (my pics above with flash, these rooms were actually very dark) I was expecting and the rammed nature of the venue made it difficult to see a lot of it - a smattering of predictable Hammer Horror scenarios - some of the more interesting pieces used light - one that I liked consisted of a heap of broken crockery with a bath in the middle in which a bull's head was reflected - the Minotaur in the Labyrinth? I donated my own author's copy of the new book for the raffle and tried to make my way around - the bar was impossible to reach, many Goths in attendance of course and in certain places it was stiflingly hot - I lasted around half an hour before I had to get out for some fresh air.
At the talk on the following evening I got around 45 people and sold 6 copies of the new book, literally just arrived out of the container (there had been a delay unloading it) - one rotter decided to steal a copy when our backs were turned. The event finishes on Wednesday.
Author of Subterranean City, Beneath the Streets of London, London's Coffee Houses, Decadent London, The Folklore of London, Subterranean City (Revised and Expanded Edition), Netherwood, Last Resort of Aleister Crowley, Lord of Strange Deaths, the Fiendish World of Sax Rohmer; Secret Tunnels in England, Folklore and Fact