Tearsheet – UnCommon London


I’m delighted that my writing about London’s eel and pie tradition is included in the new UnCommon London book.

UnCommon is a compendium of guide and travel writing “and is more of a ‘companion’ for the traveller before, during and after the journey.” UnCommon London joins editions on Malta, Stockholm and Dubai.

Commissioned by my old friend Mike Fordham, my words are illustrated by May Van Millingen.

Here are a couple of pages to give you an idea…







Yer actual Olympics. Innit?

I just picked up a story today from the Newham Recorder about how, and I quote,

“Pie and mash, jellied eels and a dose of Cockney charm will be used to sell a slice of the East End during the 2012 Olympics”.

Apparently the Mayor wants to showcase ‘local’ foods at the events but it seems that independent food producers will be excluded by the Olympic Committee in favour of exclusive deals with multi-national chains. Of course there’s nothing like watching supremely talented athletes in a competition sponsored by a burger company specialising in fatty, over salted, reconstituted animal ‘product’. The irony of the Olympics was never lost on Iain Sinclair however, and in this piece he articulates what a great number of Londoners feel – that the whole thing is a unsavoury liaison between developers and government. It will undoubtedly make both parties a great deal of money but like the enormous blue fence that surrounds the building work will effectively exclude the locals.

Interestingly, the traditional non-globalised foodstuffs of the London poor – eels, fish and chips and cheap cuts of meat, never caused an epidemic of obesity, developmental problems or litter. Still, best not to stand in the way of progress…

Here’s an image to warm the cockles on a cold November night – a shot of a pie and mash shop in Hoxton produced for an Annual Report a couple of years ago.

Bon appetit.

UK - London - a woman pours liquor into a carton in a Pie and Mash shop in Hoxton
UK - London - a woman pours liquor into a carton in a Pie and Mash shop in Hoxton