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In Pursuit of London

Henry Eliot and Matt Lloyd-Rose

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East End slang a 'salmon day' when always seem to be swimming upstream.

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Visit the Building Centre on Store St to inspect a 12 metre 1:2000 scale model of central London. You can illuminate the 13 'protected views': invisible corridors around which tall buildings can be constructed. Most of these protect the view of St Paul's Cathedral. The oldest on is from Richmond Park, and was created in 1700, before St Paul's was even finished.

Early on morning of Saturday 24 Nov 1810, a chimneysweep arrived at the elegant townhouse of Mrs Tottenham, a widowed 'lady of fortune'. Then another sweep arrived, then another. Over the course of the day, multiple chimneysweeps, colliers, cakemakers, doctors, lawyers, vicars, fishmongers, upholsterers and shoemakers called at the address, all unrequested and unexpected. A dozen pianos were delivered, and a church organ. Accoucheurs (male midwives), tooth-drawers, miniature painters, artists, auctioneers, barbers, dressmakers, grocers, butchers,rabbit-catchers and pigeon fanciers gathered outside, as well as the Governor of the Bank of England, the Duke of York, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Mayor of London, and an undertaker with a made-to-measure coffin. Thousands of people had received bogus letters requesting their presence. The surrounding streets were soon packed, and Mayfair was brought to a standstill, and the area wasn't cleared until late evening. A reward was offered for the identity of the hoaxer, but he didn't own up until 30 years later.

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A red-brown cow hide hangs in the library of St George's Hospital. It once belonged to Blossom, the Gloucester cow which gave cowpox to the milkmaid Sarah Nelmes in 1796. Edward Jenner used her infected pustules to innoculate against smallpox, therby inventing vaccination.

Norwick Park Hospital has London'sonly operating paternoster lift - chains of cubicles in constant motion. You step on and off as required. (It wa used in 1976 film The Omen).

The Great Dust Heap stood behind King's Cross - all the ashes and cinders from London's fireplaces. Cahrles Dicken's Our Mutual Friend in which Noddy Boffin builds a fortune on collecting dust. The dust was valuable bc used in brickmaking. In 1848 Russia bought the whole heap for £40,000 to rebuild Moscow.

In 2015 talking rubbish bins installed. They respond to rubbish with applause, the hallelulah chorus, a giggle or a burp. Michael Palin has even voiced one to say "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!"

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Fime, fex, tantadlin, sirreverence, stercory, siege and gong are all obsolete words for shit.

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"In an expanding universe, time is on the side of the outcast", wrote London dandy Quentin Crisp. "Those who once inhabited the suburbs of human contempt find that without changing their address they eventually live in the metropolis."

Brixton gentrifying, which means the shops which survivedon cheap rents are disappearing. Now you have wine bars like Champagne + Fromage, the only alcoholic drink on the menu being champagne, and the prices start at £45.

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The rusty bollards on Peckham's Bellenden Road are sculptured by Anthony Gormley. He made them in four different shapes: the oval, the snowman, the peg and the penis.

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For fans, therev is a blog on London bollards -

The music video for Queen's song 'Bicycle Race' was filmed in Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium, and featured 65 women cycling naked around the arena. Although predictably attacked by SJWs, cycling au natural caught on, and there's now a Naked Bike Ride in London every summer.

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The basement of Saatchi Gallery on the King's Road is flooded with recycled engine oil. A mirrored surface to contemplate.

In the C13, the Old St Paul's Cathedral, at 489 feet, was the tallest building in the world. It was 8 feet taller than the Great Pyramid, and a third taller than present St Paul's. The spire caught fire in 1561, fell through the nave, and was never rebuilt.

It was not until 1950 that a taller building was built in London. This was mainly due to Queen Victoria, who was upset by the building of a 14-storey tower blocked her view from Buckingham Palace. The 1894 London Building Act capped all structures at 80 feet, and was not relaxed until 1950.

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Catch the Air Line from the Royal Docks to the Greenwich Peninsula. From 300 feet up you get great view of Anthony Gormley's Quantum Cloud, (tetrahedral units trace a huge outline of Gormley's body).

Before the ban on feeding pigeons was introduced in 2000, there were 35,000 flocking there. Now they are controlled by Harris hawks flown daily by a pest control company.

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Sparrows used to be numerous, but there numbers plummetted a century ago when the insects associated with horses disappeared. But there is a modern colony of 10,000 rose-ringed parakeets which nest in the Hither Green Cemetary.

A 40 foot inflatable pig was moored to the chimneys of Battersea Power Station for the cover shoot of Pink Floyd's Animals. It broke free and all aircraft were grounded until the RAF could shoot it down over Kent.

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George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, named 5 streets after himself in 1672. George Street, Villiers Street, Duke Street, Of Alley and Buckingham Street. Of Alley has been renamed York Place.

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Queen Victoria didn't know Albert's surname until she researched it after his death. The name was Wettin, but was never adopted byt the royal family.

The Fake Blue Plaque Company will make one for you. Such as the one at 32 Kew Road which states that, on this site on Sept 5 1782, nothing happened.

There are 190 islands in the Thames, mostly uninhabited and rarely visited. Some settlements, such as Eel Pie Island. But also confusing places such as Fish Island, a grid of artist studios which is totallyon the mainland.

The Trafalgar Way roundabout in Canary Wharf has a huge metal tree with branches made up of 75 flickering traffic lights. It was erected to replace a plane tree which died of pollution.

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In 1929 J.M. Barrie transferred the rights to Peter Pan to Great Ormond Hospital, whish has received royalties from the films and plays ever since.

December 1968 memebers of the radical situationist group King Mob entered Selfidges dept store toy dept dressed as Father Christmases and handed out the shop's toys to delighted children.

Every morning the staff at Madame Tussards touch up the waxworks to remove the traces of yesterday's visitors. There's usually lipstick on the faces of the One Direction boys, and sometimes underwear in their pockets.

The Gentle Author said both his parents died at exactly the same age, so he sat down and worked out that there were 10,000 days until he reached that age.So what was he to do with those 10,000 days? The answer was 'write a story every day'. So since 2009 he has been writing daily tales about the people and culture of the East End at

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The Thames Barrier Park has the Green Dock - a long trench of topiary yew trees clipped into the shape of waves.And a spectacular view of the Thames Barrier's gleaming conches.

An ATM (cashpoint as they're known in UK) on Market Row in Brixton dispense Brixton pounds, neon colored banknotes that can only be used in local businesses.

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For the first three Olympics, the marathon was 25 miles. At the 1908 Games (in London, for the first of three times), the course was extended, allegedly to accommodate the British royal family. As the story goes, Queen Alexandra requested that the race start on the lawn of Windsor Castle (so the littlest royals could watch from the window of their nursery, according to some accounts) and finish in front of the royal box at the Olympic stadium - a distance that happened to be 26.2 miles (26 miles and 385 yards). The random boost in mileage ending up sticking, and in 1921 the length for a marathon was formally standardized at 26.2 miles.

In the 1880s a Japanese ship foundered in the Thames and lost its cargo of pearly buttons. They were salvaged by Henry Croft, a street sweeper. He had long admired the street sellers who sewed pearl buttons to threadbare caps and coat cuffs. He took this to an extreme and sewed thousands of them all over a shabby dress suit and a top hat. Caught the eye of the costermongers, and soon each borough hed elected their own Pearly King and Queen. (There is a statue of Henry Croft, wearing his pearly gear, in the crypt of St Martin in the Fields church)

God's Own Junkyard - a huge collection of neon and LED and standard shop signs. Open Friday - 11am to 9pm Saturday - 11am to 9pm Sunday - 11am to 6pm.

London's railings used to be brightly colored, often with contrasting heads, such as pineapples. But when Prince Albert died, Q Victori demanded that they all be painted black, and they remain so today.

Covent Garden water clock (above Holland & Barrett, Shorts Gardens)

A pipe slowly fills with water, then, on the hour, water cascades down through a series of buckets, ringing bells as it goes, and filling the watering cans of a team of gardeners. The gardeners empty their cans into a trough causing afloating garden to appear.

St George The Martyr in Borough has four faces on its clock tower. Three of them are white and lit at night but the fourthis black and unlit. When the church was being refurbished in 1730's, local parishioners paid for it. But the people of the parish to the east refused to stump up, and so, as they had no time for St George, St George has no time for them.

Earls Court tube station was where first escalator installed. A one-legged engineer, Bumper Harris, was hired to ride it non-stop for a day to reassure the faint-hearted.

The Carlton Tavern in Maida Vale is a carbon copy of the original. It was illegally demolished in 2015 to make way for a new building. The Westminster Council ruled that it would have to be rebuilt exactly as it was, inside and out.

More than 1 in 3 Londoners was born outside Britain. Polish is now England's second language. London is the sixth largest French city and is now a constituency of the French parliament with its own MP.

The Land of the Rising Sun is a huge emporium on Shftesbury Avenue selling Japanese foods and houseware.

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