Secret Tunnels of England: Folklore & Fact has been reviewed in the July issue of Fortean Times (no.342, p.61). The reviewer Steve Marshall gives it 8 out of 10 and comments:
'Illustrated and highly readable, Secret Tunnels of England ends with an afterword by Fortean Times's Gary Lachman on why we are so fascinated by secret tunnels and other subterranean spaces. Citing Plato, Jung and David Lewis-Williams, he considers the psychological and religious aspects of tunnels, bringing the book to a satisfying conclusion.'
Still available from the outlets listed in previous posts. I shall also have copies for sale at a discounted price on the Hogarth walk in July (only a couple of places left).
There are less than 10 places left on next month's Hogarth walk.
Books I've been reading this month:
Roberto Calasso The Art of the Publisher
Guy de la Bedoyere Roman Britain
Marc Morris King John
Readable - if rather confusing chronologically - biography of the king whose death anniversary comes up on 18th October.
Robert Aickman Cold Heart in Mine
Aickman's strange and unsettling tales - such as 'The Swords' in this collection - stay in the mind much longer than the vast majority of ghost stories.
John Robb Death to Trad Rock
Skim-read after a surprisingly powerful, relentless and rocking gig by The Nightingales at The Carlisle pub in Hastings a couple of weeks ago, only temporarily halted by someone leaning on the jukebox and dislodging the plug for the mixing desk.
Brix Smith Start The Rise, the Fall and The Rise
Fair to say that MES doesn't come out of this too well.
A. J. Lees Mentored by a Madman: The William Burroughs Experiment
Very interesting autobiographical account by one of the world's leading neurologists of the influence of the writings and thought of William Burroughs on his scientific work, particularly with regard to drugs. Could usefully be read in conjunction with Oliver Sacks' Awakenings (Sacks, of course, features here). His thoughts on modern medicine (pp183-4): 'The NHS regarded neurology as an expensive, largely talking speciality with woolly outcomes and there was never enough funding. Performance was now judged by waiting times, not quality of care or innovation. Professionalism was being replaced by brainless accountability reflected in meaningless league tables... In the pretence to be more scientific, only the very latest and most immediate data was now considered trustworthy. Painstaking, clinical, pharmacological observation in small numbers of patients was disparaged as "eminence based medicine". New was better than old, more was superior to little, and early detection of disease was essential - such truisms reflected the prevailing zeitgeist.'
Lees also mentions a piece of underground folklore (p.12) included in my Secret Tunnels of England.When he was training in anatomy at the London Hospital in the capital's East End: 'A rumour that passed from one generation of students to the next was that at the end of each term the mauled cadavers were transported on a dead body train from the hospital to Whitechapel station and then to a place of rest near the necropolis of Brick Lane.' For more on this classic urban legend see here.
A friend managed to get me an inscribed copy, as I couldn't get to the book launch. Notting Hill Editions were partially an influence on the book design of Accumulator Press. It's a great book - I cannot comment on the scientific and medical information contained therein, but what I can say is that (adopts whining nasal tone) it would be highly unusual to get a train from Liverpool Lime Street and arrive at King's Cross (p. 7 and p.9) rather than Euston.
To make a change from secret tunnels the next event is a walk on Hogarth's London, one of my very occasional artist walks. It will leave from Westminster Reference Library at 6.30 on Friday 15 July. Details here. Places will be limited and it will end at the lovely Lamb pub in Lamb's Conduit Street. More information to follow.
I recently acquired a framed print from photographer Bob Mazzer (see above) who, I was surprised to find, lives in St Leonards. He is most well known for chronicling the passengers on the London tube for the last thirty years or so, a remarkable and revealing record that shows many of the social changes in the capital (and the years when it was permissible to smoke and drink on underground trains). All the fashion trends can be seen: skinheads, punks, New Romantics etc. and there are reminders of how menacing travelling on public transport could be, especially in the 1970s, as I recall. I'm hoping that we will be doing an event together in London at some point in the next three months. More on Bob Mazzer's work can be found here and here and here.
I wrote something about The Yellow Book for Westminster Reference Library's Book of the Month here.
I've just found out that The Nightingales are playing at The Carlisle pub in Hastings this Sunday 12th June. I've never been a fan, but I often heard them on Peel and the bill looks interesting - may go.
Announcement last week of the discovery of the earliest dated document from Roman Britain on the vast Bloomberg redevelopment site in the City of London which encompasses the vanished river Walbrook and the Temple of Mithras. Appropriately enough it concerns a financial arrangement. See here and here.
I recently asked paper artist Linda Toigo to tunnel through a copy of Secret Tunnels of England: Folklore and Fact and this is the result. You can see more of her work here. Down to under 100 copies left, so get yours soon. Available through Amazon, and Watkins, Treadwells and Atlantis, LRB Bookshop in London, Five Leaves in Nottingham, Albion Books in Hastings and the Bookkeeper in St Leonards.
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