Cheekily I’ve borrowed the title of this blog from a book I admire very much, Nairn’s London, which was reprinted in 2014 by Penguin.* Had he been around now my guess is that Nairn would not have been especially impressed with much of the built environment of London as it has developed over the last few years.
I think he would, however, have been mightily impressed by the range of communication by which writers, readers, viewers and listeners can communicate with one another nowadays. Nairn seems to me to have been a natural blogger before the form was invented – a master of the short form, of the neglected corner, of the new way of looking at something entirely familiar. In short he is someone whose writing you just want to share and say, ‘Look, here’s someone who cares.’
Thus an exemplar to all people who want to write in that he wrote with the reader in mind. Thoughtful, spicy opinions that, whether you agreed with him or not, are essential reading on London and the world in which he lived.
So yes, this rag bag commentary on my guiding, academic and social lives is a faint testimony to Nairn’s ability to inspire topophilia. I hope to share places and experiences, triumphs and disasters, the joy and boredom of city life.
I took a first dabble at this kind of thing with my ‘Restaurants of 2013’ Google Map in which I kept a diary of all the places in which I paid to eat that year as a means of giving myself light relief in between writing up my thesis. I had intended to pick it up again this year but decided it might be fun to envelope it in a broader project of talking about the cultural events and places, and to include thoughts on my academic work (such as it is).
So if you haven’t read Nairn’s London I suggest you do so. And in this time of election fever start with the entry on Guy’s Hospital Chapel.
- I have since altered the name of the blog! It was too presumptuous.
Blue Badge guide to London and academic specialising in early twentieth century history. Blogging on history, academia, and food and culture in the capital (and occasionally elsewhere).