Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

‘You’ll take the job, clean the stables? Go backwards, go forwards, do whatever is necessary?’

Lloyd and Tim take on the ‘holy scripture’ of spy novels, John Le Carré’s classic tale of 1970s Cold War intrigue and betrayal; the book that established George Smiley as one of the all-time great fictional characters – ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy‘.

The adventure starts on home turf: Smiley’s home, to be precise, on Bywater Street in Chelsea.

Bywater Street, London SW3

From there, we cycled off to Sussex Gardens.

The Hotel Islay in Sussex Gardens – where, on the day after his visit to Ascot, George Smiley under the name of Barraclough had set up his operational headquarters – was a very quiet place considering its position, and perfectly suited to his needs. It lay a hundred yards south of Paddington Station, one of a terrace of elderly mansions cut off from the main avenue by a line of plane trees and a parking patch.

We very much liked the look of one particular hotel on this stretch – the Castleton.

From there it was off to Lexham Gardens in search of the safe house where Smiley and Guillam interrogate Toby Esterhase, and following our re-enactment of a simple tracking operation down Marloes Road, it becomes clear to use that this is very likely to be the most curiously specific book we have encountered so far concerning dates and locations.

Following Smiley and Guillam through Lexham Gardens

Having found the off licence where Smiley loses his tail, we discuss Connie Sachs, the redoubtable ‘memory’ of the Circus, and her real life counterpart, the redoubtable Millicent Bagot. Tim also reveals his research into another real life woman of substance, a Suffolk farm owner who may have provided Le Carré with another model.

Over a stop for Eccles cakes in Hyde Park Tim makes the case that even the out-of-London locations in the book – such as the safe house in Suffolk and the prep school in the Quantocks – are perhaps traceable in real life.

Lloyd points out that specific days and dates in the book firmly place the action in 1972 and 1973 – a time of ‘Dark Side of the Moon, ‘Live and Let Die’ – and Jeremy Irons in both ‘Godspell’ and ‘Playaway’ (although Lloyd doubts this last reference supplied by Tim).

MI6’s fictional hq – The Circus – is another easily found location (with the world’s most notorious surveillance operation, Facebook, living next door). Thanks to deep research from Lloyd, the building, known as Trentishoe Mansions is found to have been a famously great place to squat in the 1970s. Instead of being full of spies, the place would have been crawling with hippies.

And if you want to know who owns it now, here’s the deeds.

Trentishoe Mansions, aka The Circus, London
Shaftesbury Avenue and The Circus, 1940s-60s. The Circus is on the corner of Charing Cross Road and New Compton Street
Victor Blake, where Mendel stands on the third floor. From the London Picture Archive

Then it’s off further north to the Regent’s Canal to find another safe house where Smiley finally traps his mole. Time for another reenactment – Guillam’s sprint down the canal towpath and up the metal stairs.

The Canal, with the rear of the safehouse to the left
The stairs up which Guillam runs to snare the mole

Ending south, in Brixton, in search of an ‘old flint-walled school’, the boys – with the help of local experts – have to admit this might be the one location Le Carré has completely made up.

Well, one can’t be a completely perfect spy.

When time and guidelines allow, we road test works of fiction that appear to be curiously specific about dates and locations. We go to the places mentioned and see if descriptions are accurate, journey times credible, dates and days all in order. Along the way, we learn things, about the book, and its author.

Sources & Credits

David Essex – Rock On – https://youtu.be/-XfmHyG8y-g

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1979) Trailer – https://youtu.be/5h1XZ0LzVg4

Pink Floyd – Speak To Me / Breathe – https://youtu.be/R49d4f5sEs4

John le Carré: An Evening with George Smiley Highlights – https://youtu.be/1uLG3l5zKv4

Genesis – Cinema Show/Selling England By The Pound – https://youtu.be/E-jS4e3zacI

New Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Clip – https://youtu.be/442J1ASPseQ


Live And Let Die – https://youtu.be/NR0UmZcf89E

Colin Firth’s Official ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ Interview – https://youtu.be/5r9vE2B2Oj8

B J Arnau Live And Let Die 1973 – https://youtu.be/LWKGfbs8dzo


John Le Carré – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_le_Carr%C3%A9

The Secret Life of John Le Carré – https://archive.vanityfair.com/article/share/32650cf6-3fad-418d-8e33-4a7906ed6d68

Le Carré the spy who betrayed his best friend… – https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3258942/Secrets-lies-le-Carr-love-stellar-spy-novel-success-drove-arms-wife-womanising-best-friend-told-time-sensational-new-biography.html

1973 in the UK – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1973_in_the_United_Kingdom

Sparrows Farm, Great Henny – https://colnestour.org/magazine_article/story-sparrows-farm-great-henny/

Daphne Machin-Goodall – https://www.janebadgerbooks-oldsite.co.uk/misc/machingoodall.html

The Story of Cedar Falls – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B001BP34N8

Winston Churchill at Watts House – https://sites.google.com/site/jbseatrobe/political-somerset/winston-churchill-in-somerset

Cedar Falls Health Farm – https://www.cedarfalls.co.uk/cedarfalls/

A bench with a view – https://www.123rf.com/photo_117287663_a-bench-with-view-over-the-quantock-hills-landscape-near-west-bagborough-somerset-england-uk.html

Shaftesbury Theatre ceiling collapse (Hair) – https://www.shaftesburytheatre.com/about-us/theatre-history-2/

A house in St Marks Crescent – http://www.englishcubist.co.uk/house.html

Slow Horses

‘Lamb’s been banished.

Where’ve they sent him? Somewhere awful?

Bad as it gets.

God, not Slough?

Might as well be.’

In the middle of the third Covid-19 lockdown, Lloyd and Tim get together virtually for a Zoom around London’s Aldersgate Street and key points north and west of Slough House, the headquarters for Mick Herron’s titular Slow Horses.

They spy on Slough House itself, uncovering countless off-the-shelf companies which might be fronts for unseen agents, but probably aren’t. Not to mention watchful owls which might be hints of a conspiracy or might just be there to scare off the pigeons.

Rummaging around in the Companies House website they find out more than they possibly should have done about Mick Herron himself, and seek to put themselves in the writer’s own shoes as he travels from Oxford to the Barbican to Moorgate via Bunhill Fields.

Then it’s off to the Islington Tunnel and the former home of a certain floppy-haired ex-Mayor of London, now denizen of 10 Downing Street, and his avatar in the book in question. Mick Herron’s somewhat spooky prescience about the course of British politics over the last decade is put to the test, and hats are doffed.

Finally, the inevitable argument about dating ensues, with a vicious disagreement over which particular England qualifying game the book is referring to, and an unwelcome reminder of the fleeting electoral successes of the British National Party.

When time and guidelines allow, we road test works of fiction that appear to be curiously specific about dates and locations. We go to the places mentioned and see if descriptions are accurate, journey times credible, dates and days all in order. Along the way, we learn things, about the book, and its author.

Sources & Credits

The Office theme – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9llfUGKW4KI

Boris and Darius – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVq7ZGlvapM&t=1148s

Boris and his gaffes – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5hyb9RzA98

Boris gets the giggles –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-5axDMdWbA

Boris makes you a cup of tea –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r799U_-jAnk

Boris and the spliff – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoJRthjdOR4&feature=youtu.be

Alexei Sayle’s London Bike Ride – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGO22mT2plc&t=334s


I’m a firm adherent of the school of Making Stuff Up – https://www.mickherron.com/qanda.html

No work being done – https://www.mickherron.com/articles/page21/page21.html

Mick Herron interview – https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/jan/15/mick-herron-i-look-at-jackson-lamb-and-think-my-god-did-i-write-that-my-mother-reads-this-stuff

A fictional spy walk in London – https://spywrite.com/2017/09/22/fictional-spies-in-london/

Businesses at 126 Aldersgate Street – https://becsltd.com/about/ and https://cbc-legal.com/

Companies House – https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/

288 Companies in EC1A 4JQ, Aldersgate Street, London – https://suite.endole.co.uk/explorer/postcode/ec1a-4jq

Secret Owl Society – https://www.richardcassaro.com/uncovering-the-secret-owl-society/

Regent Park Buildings – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winfield_House and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sussex_Place

Royal College of Physicians – https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/news/architecture

The Islington Tunnel – https://www.londoncanals.online/2010/01/19/londons-three-canal-tunnels-islington-tunnel/

Platform 9 and 3/4 to be disapparated- https://londonist.com/2008/07/platform_9_and_34_to_be_disapparate

Winter Test match 2008/9 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_cricket_team_in_India_in_2008%E2%80%9309

The British National Party – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_National_Party

BNP faces court case over membership rules – https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2009/aug/24/bnp-court-case-membership-discrimination

The Ipcress File

‘A plan to brain-wash the entire framework of the nation,’ said Jean, over the coffee and croissants. ‘It’s hardly credible.’

After a long hiatus, Tim and Lloyd are back with the (unlucky-for-some) 13th Curiously Specific Book Club podcast.

They start the new series with something that comes easy to them both – a leisurely stroll around Soho. Who knew Len Deighton’s classic 1962 spy novel The Ipcress File was the perfect excuse for a long lunch and a general loaf?

They head down to Gerrard Street to the supposed location of the fictional coffee bar ‘Lederer’s’ where talk turns to Buddy Holly, the Kray twins and Princess Margaret. On to another legendary coffee bar, the Moka (there are a ridiculous number of references to coffee in The Ipcress File). The talk is now of Gina Lollobrigida and William Burroughs.

An argument ensues on Old Compton Street about the precise dating of the book – does the action take place in 1959/60 or 1961/62? On Dean Street, they use the site of Franco and Mario’s La Trattoria Terrazza restaurant (much loved by spies, movie stars and ad execs) to continue the argument. Princess Margaret and The Beatles feature.

They have their actual lunch in a trattoria just off Charlotte Street, a few metres from Dalby’s offices of WOOC (P).  Whilst munching on spaghetti and Milanese in the heart of 1960s London adland, Lloyd offers insights into the serious business of brainwashing.  George Blake is mentioned.

Fuelled with chianti and pinot grigio, they trundle back on a bus to south London  on the trail of both Deighton and Michael Caine (the star of the film). Discussion is had about the Cold War, nuclear testing in the Pacific and the shocking details of how the Americans (with the support of the British) ruined atolls and the lives of those who lived on them. Somehow they still manage to shoe-horn in references to James Bond and garlic sausage.

Each month we road test a work of fiction that appears to be curiously specific about dates and locations. We go to the places mentioned and see if descriptions are accurate, journey times credible, dates and days all in order. Along the way, we learn things, about the book, and its author.

Sources & Credits

Pick of the Pops Soundtrack and Alan Freeman – https://youtu.be/f_9jpTyRabM and  https://youtu.be/3FbSO773oQM

The Ipcress File brainwashing scene – https://youtu.be/4wwQpACwcoM

Golden Wonder crisp advert – https://youtu.be/k6SchrCyr1Y?t=34

Interview with Len Deighton –  https://youtu.be/XJun7546t_s

The Shadows, Bongo Blues –  https://youtu.be/JtVkTESeXAo

Fairey Band – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairey_Band

Paul McCartney, Summer of 59 – https://youtu.be/hpnCoK6ixJA

Atom Bomb Explosion Aka Atom Bomb Test At Eniwetok (1956) – https://youtu.be/FltHbYJj-tA

Cadburys Drinking Chocolate advert – https://youtu.be/uO96gv1i0mY

Candid Caine – A Self Portrait of Michael Caine (1969) – https://youtu.be/b8s7S65YlDo

Theme Tune to The Ipcress File – https://youtu.be/pBCqP7R42K0


Len Deighton wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Len_Deighton

Len Deighton London Dossier – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Len_Deighton%27s_London_Dossier

Town: A Day in the life of Len Deighton: https://deightondossier.blogspot.com/2010/04/town-day-in-life-of-len-deighton-3.html

1962 Events – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1962_in_the_United_Kingdom#Events

Look at Life Coffee Bar 1959 – https://youtu.be/_nsRHHcq1P8

Flamingo Club  – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Flamingo_Club

William Burroughs and the strange demise of London’s first espresso bar – https://greatwen.com/2011/11/09/william-burroughs-and-the-strange-demise-of-londons-first-espresso-bar/

La Trattoria Terrazza – https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/48-la-trattoria-terrazza/1160721

William Sargant – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_SargantCommunist

Psychological Warfare: ‘Brainwashing’ – http://www.crossroad.to/Quotes/globalism/Congress.htm

George Blake – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Blake

Etinawok atoll /US nuclear testing – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_Proving_Grounds

Johnston Atoll – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnston_Atoll

Dirty Weekend

“It began that summer, a hot and sticky summer that made the air shimmer and the walls melt.”

We’re back in Brighton, for the third in our trilogy of books set in Southern England’s biggest seaside resort. The book we’re taking for a walk this time is a tale of bloody revenge set against a 1980s backdrop of shifting sexual politics and wrenching political change. Our guide is Bella, who woke up one morning and realised she’d had enough. She’s the heroine of Helen Zahavi’s controversial bestseller and literary tour de force Dirty Weekend – and its film adaptation, a curious affair brought to you by Michael Winner.

Bella gets under your skin – sometimes with a hammer – so to get under hers we tracked down her basement flat in Brunswick Place, where a sex pest with the unholy name of Tim begins making nuisance calls, only to pay the ultimate price.

We hunt for the Hotel Samara, scene of Bella’s second murder, but with limited success, though we do find Kylie Minogue’s favourite hotel in Brighton. We track down the gun shop in which Bella tries and fails to buy a gun, and then we ourselves try and fail to find the pub where she actually gets a hand on one.

Then it’s over to Hove and a multi-storey car park, where evil dentist Reggie meets his end, crushed between a Mercedes CE and a wall of brutalist concrete. Finally, we visit the old goods yard behind Brighton station where we discuss the rancid history of lager louts on the site – now transformed into cosy flats – of Bella’s fourth, fifth and sixth kills.

Each month we road test a work of fiction that appears to be curiously specific about dates and locations. We go to the places mentioned and see if descriptions are accurate, journey times credible, dates and days all in order. Along the way, we learn things, about the book, and its author.

Sources & Credits

Michael Winner and Dirty Weekend – http://www.helenzahavi.com/michael-winner-dirty-weekend

The Worst of Times: ‘I wasn’t paranoid this was terrorism’ – https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/the-worst-of-times-i-wasnt-paranoid-this-was-terrorism-helen-zahavi-talks-to-danny-danziger-1480683.html

Strangers, John Lanchester – https://www.lrb.co.uk/v13/n13/john-lanchester/strangers

Weather 1989 – http://www.london-weather.eu/article.128.html

Panic on the Streets of Woking: Rise of the Lager Lout – https://boakandbailey.com/2017/08/panic-on-the-streets-of-woking-rise-of-the-lager-lout/

Is Brighton really Britain’s worst holiday resort? – https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/shortcuts/2013/aug/26/brighton-britains-worst-holiday-resort

C&H Weston – http://airgunexpress.co.uk/

Drakes of Brighton – https://drakesofbrighton.com/guestrooms

“Who out there remembers Chaplins bar under the Royal Crescent Hotel?” – https://www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk/topic/royal-crescent-hotel-chaplins-bar

Stanley Price, Crusading for Kronk – https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Crusading_for_Kronk.html?id=co5LAAAAIAAJ&redir_esc=y

Interview with Helen Zahavi – http://www.kaliber38.de/features/zahavi/zahavi_english.htm

New England Quarter – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_England_Quarter

Killing Eve official trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kk0PyD-XNZA

Dirty Weekend full movie – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9QerkRmv_k

Kill Bill Volume 2 ‘That Woman Deserves Her Revenge’ – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4L9Yi-lXbo

Kelis, ‘Caught Out There’ – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3JFwd1bk4Q

The Beguiled trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBoLK5z_FHo

Hangover Square

“To those whom God has forsaken, is given a gas-fire in Earl’s Court”

We’re joined in this, the 11th Curiously Specific Book Club podcast, by Andy (@DulwichRaider) from Deserter, who is our natural go-to mate for summoning up the spirit of alcoholic drift and under-employment that permeates ‘Hangover Square’ by Patrick Hamilton.

We are forced to drink in all the pubs on or just off the Earl’s Court Road, until we find the one that is mostly likely to be ‘The Black Hart’, the drinking den around which much of the book’s events revolve.

We go to the exact point off the Cromwell Road where the author, Patrick Hamilton, was run over   – and also where Netta (the book’s anti-heroine) resides.

After one too many Gin & Frenches and much talk of fascism, Lloyd and Tim take off to Brighton in search of a theatre and golf course. We find both, and finish our trip in Hassocks, tracking a walk that we’re not sure is really necessary. Cue WW2…

Each month we road test a work of fiction that appears to be curiously specific about dates and locations. We go to the places mentioned and see if descriptions are accurate, journey times credible, dates and days all in order. Along the way, we learn things, about the book, and its author.

Sources & Credits

Neville Chamberlain – Britain’s declaration 1939: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtJ_zbz1NyY

Addinsell – Warsaw Concerto: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqVKDPxEqnM

Stravinsky Octet for Wind Instruments: I. Sinfonia. Lento – Allegro moderato: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVk1K_MPmR4

Come And Have A Drink At The ‘Victory Arms: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCufn89FdRw

Schoenberg: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 42 – 2. Molto allegro: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLSK00vwGUw

Leslie Hore-Belisha talking about traffic problems in the 1930s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOBb3lYhG0Q

Gaslight (1944) Official Trailer – Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ToLfQU2xmg

Crazy Gang singing ‘Free’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_JIQZdW5EU&t=118s

Seaside Golf: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0ObxB8JZog

Benjamin Britten Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge for String Orch. Op.10, SCO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIWIXjpf7YE&t=110s

Arthur Askey – Knitting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIWIXjpf7YE&t=110s


Earl’s Court: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earl%27s_Court

Earl’s Court Centrehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earls_Court_Exhibition_Centre

Nevern Square Garden http://nevernsquaregarden.com

Oswald Mosley: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oswald_Mosley

Earl’s Court Rally 1939: https://www.oswaldmosley.com/earls-court-britain-first-rally/

George Black (producer):  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Black_(producer)

Moss Empires Jubilee Brochure: http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/MossEmpiresJubilee1949.htm

Geraldine Fitzgerald: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/1494865/Geraldine-Fitzgerald.html

How the Thirties saw Britain fall in love with the car: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1247543/How-Thirties-saw-Britain-fall-love-car–nation-road-hogs.html

Passing-Out Time, Christopher Tayler: https://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n02/christopher-tayler/passing-out-time

First-Class Fellow Traveller, Terry Eagleton: https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n23/terry-eagleton/first-class-fellow-traveller

Just off Lexham Gardens, John Bayley: https://www.lrb.co.uk/v14/n01/john-bayley/just-off-lexham-gardens

Through A Glass Darkly: The Life of Patrick Hamilton, by Nigel Jones
Patrick Hamilton: A Life, by Sean French
East Brighton Golf Club https://www.ebgc.co.uk


Brighton Rock

“Hale knew, before he had been in Brighton three hours, that they meant to murder him.”

For the tenth instalment of the Curiously Specific Book Club podcast, we travel to the southern coast of England for Graham Greene’s ‘Brighton Rock’. We discover the Brighton of the 1930s, a place of seedy glamour shoved up against repulsive poverty, a town of razor boys, prostitutes, gangsters and dodgy lawyers.

We find the tunnel where Fred Hale is done in by Pinkie, Dallow and Cubitt, and take tea in the same cafe where the killers eat fish and chips and ponder their next move. We hunt for Snow’s tea rooms, and ponder the meaning of good and evil in a Brighton shelter. We also wonder if the name Pinkie Brown is Greene’s only toilet joke, and why his horror of farting led him to try and take his own life.

Up on the hill above the Old Steyne we find the slums in which Pinkie and Rose spent their childhoods, and then we sit in the empty grandstand of Brighton racecourse, before following Pinkie’s desperate tracks as he scrambles down into the outskirts of Brighton, pursued by Collini’s razor boys.

We end up at Peacehaven, and find an astonishing coincidence of dates as well as the marker stone of the Prime Meridian, the spot where Pinkie Brown, his face bubbling with acid, leaps to his death in the sea below.

Each month we road test a work of fiction that appears to be curiously specific about dates and locations. We go to the places mentioned and see if descriptions are accurate, journey times credible, dates and days all in order. Along the way, we learn things, about the book, and its author.

Sources & credits

Excerpts from the film Brighton Rock, 1971: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FezBxUfWWXo

Graham Greene speaking in BBC Arena documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqOpurufruQ

Clearing the Slums, British Pathé, 1935: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ex1nKk39vsw

Jonathan Franzen on Overrated Books: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5FvI33QH1M

Now My Heart is Full, by Morrissey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRiQ1uIq-V8

Brighton Rock, by Tony Crombie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwkxsYXB-uk

By The Sea, 1910: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwXuEdYULdM

Anthony Burgess on Graham Greene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcpf-Q2Udmc
Graham Greene’s Brighton: An exploration – https://emeraldlamp.blogspot.com/2015/06/graham-greenes-brighton-exploration.html

Pinkie: out on the dangerous edge of things: John Carey – https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/book-review-pinkie-out-on-the-dangerous-edge-of-things-john-carey-considers-the-background-to-the-1476157.html

Lobby Lud – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lobby_Lud

Old Police Cells Museum: Race Course Gang – https://www.oldpolicecellsmuseum.org.uk/content/category/history/race_gangs

My Brighton and Hove: Places – https://www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk/category/places

Carlton Hill, Brighton – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlton_Hill,_Brighton

Bedford Hotel, Brighton – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bedford_Hotel_(Brighton)

Whit Monday – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whit_Monday

I Wonder What It Feels Like to Be Poor – https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=82442Braithwaite engines: https://cybermotorcycle.com/euro/wikig/Braithwaite.html

A Tour Through Graham Greene’s Brighton: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/broadcast/read/6838

Railway Time: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railway_time

Colly Cibber and Kolly Kibber: https://curiousfactsonline.blogspot.com/2007/04/colly-cibber-and-kolly-kibber.html?m=1

The Smallest A.1. Two Valve Receiving Set in the World! – a joke circa 1916: https://www.rubylane.com/item/1491561-Receivingx20potties/Smallest-1-Two-Valve-Receiving-Set

Charles Sabini: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Sabini

Lovejoy: The Judas Pair & The Grail Tree

“Antiques and Women are my only interests. It sounds simple, but you just try putting them in the right order.”

The third instalment of the CSB East Anglian trilogy takes us to Essex. We immerse ourselves in the unreconstructed 1970s world of the UK’s favourite antiques dealer-cum-private eye – Lovejoy.

We use Books 1 and 3 in the series – ‘The Judas Pair’ and ‘The Grail Tree’ – to explore Colchester and its environs and track down key locations, such the main antiques arcade where Lovejoy spends a lot of his time, the White Hart pub where all his deals get done, and his cottage where a dramatic showdown takes place with a villain with a crossbow.

Starting their odyssey at a sex shop on the A12, Lloyd and Tim find themselves deeply troubled by the casual violence towards women and the general misogyny that colours Lovejoy’s world view. We consider how the womens liberation movement of the early 1970s might have been impacting on Lovejoy’s world  – or not.

We search for the lost Colchester, crumped under a shopping centre. We find a pub in West Bergholt that has been through countless refurbishments. We guess at where Lovejoy’s cottage might have been before it was burned down. We realise that much of what we’re looking for has disappeared – as lost as the mythical antiques that Lovejoy searches for in the books.

We end at Witham train station after a racy car ride, keen to return to the more ‘enlightened’ times of the present day…

Each month we road test a work of fiction that appears to be curiously specific about dates and locations. We go to the places mentioned and see if descriptions are accurate, journey times credible, dates and days all in order. Along the way, we learn things, about the book, and its author.

Sources & credits

Womens Liberation March in London, 1971: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRigbUC0JUQ

Billericay Dickie, Ian Dury: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jrkWygIqt0

Lovejoy Theme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVzUrDGBnu8

Germaine Greer in debate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zT1wHe1DlOM

Oi, Baxter Dury: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=El3V7js1uYw&t=48s

Danny Sloggett YouTube channel, Colchester punk movement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sp9QkNAIOYw&t=120s

Danny Sloggett YouTube channel, Colchester walking around: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7X4ORpog4AY&t=56s

Danny Sloggett YouTube channel, Undistract yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlMf1UwoC38&t=21s

Danny Sloggett YouTube channel, English roads: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONDF_Ukbtc4&t=1s

Sheila Jeffreys on Kate Millet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gg0LrEcDC4w&t=236s

Hurry Up Harry, Sham 69: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdVFzdRZF0Q

Carry on At Your Convenience (1971), Theme tune: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-W02MG-5Izk&t=30s

Canteen scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLkZSYunzhY

You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet, Bachman Turner Overdrive: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99lyU5N–f8

Top Gear, Clarkson:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39jbpOH6Di4&t=683s

Girls and Boys, Blur: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDswiT87oo8

Every Move You Make, Ian McShane: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oK-N88cWEPs


The Jonathan Gash Project: http://thejonathangashproject.blogspot.com/2009/10/jonathan-gash-bio-lovejoy-beginnings.html

The James Bond of Antiques Dealers: https://www.nytimes.com/1987/02/26/garden/the-james-bond-of-antique-dealers.html

Sexual Politics, Kate Millet: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_Politics

West Bergholt: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Bergholt

History of Colchester: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Colchester

Colchester Castle: https://colchester.cimuseums.org.uk/visit/colchester-castle/

Colchester: coins from hoard go under the hammer: https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/colchester-coins-from-hoard-go-under-the-hammer-1-1122039

Uri Geller: https://www.urigeller.com/

Colchester’s historic Red Lion Yard in the news: https://www.thecolchesterarchaeologist.co.uk/?p=7628

Timeline of Women’s Liberation Movement: https://www.bl.uk/sisterhood/timeline

Braithwaite engines: https://cybermotorcycle.com/euro/wikig/Braithwaite.html

The Rings of Saturn

“In August 1992, when the dog days were drawing to an end, I set off to walk the county of Suffolk, in the hope of dispelling the emptiness that takes hold of me whenever I have completed a long stint of work.”

For the 8th CSB podcast, and the second in our East Anglian trilogy, we’re in Suffolk, following in the footsteps of German writer W.G. ‘Max’ Sebald as he walked from the little town of Somerleyton to the bleak prospects of Orford Ness, taking in a spectacular sweep of European history (most of it awful) on the way.

At the little railway station of Somerleyton, we start to suspect that all is not what it seems with Sebald’s journey, as we uncover an egregious case of not being able to tell one’s left from one’s right. We also ponder whether Sebaldians have actually read this book in quite as close a way as we intend to. In addition, we wonder if they are Sebaldians or Sebaldists.

Amid the ruins of Blundeston Prison, we ponder the fate of Reggie Kray, and imagine him waving at Sebald from the windows of his cell, and whether Sebald would even have known who he was.

In Lowestoft (where, according to Sebald, ’nearly a quarter of the population is now practically illiterate’) we hazard a guess at which hotel Max stayed in – and again wonder if he’s got his directions backwards.

Amid the ruins of Covehithe, we find the pigs that Sebald stroked as he walked by, and see the beach where he saw a couple ‘in the bottom of the pit’, amid the leafless trees collapsing into the sea.

In Southwold, we visit the extraordinary Sailors’ Reading Room, and we try (and fail) to track down Sebald’s claimed ‘Chinese’ steam train, while pondering how Max would have edited Wikipedia.

As we reach the end of our journey, we fail to get lost on Dunwich Heath, in the shadow of Sizewell B, and, just as spectacularly, we fail to find the model of the Temple of Herod on a farm in the flatlands of Suffolk.

“I think once more of our history, which is but a long account of calamities.”

Sources & credits

Carl Jung, ‘Death Is Not The End’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-Ab3tlpvYA
Gabriel Fauré, ‘Requiem, Op. 48 – Movement V. Agnus Dei’. Performed by Harry Christophers; The Sixteen, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rs8sMjIJ4eI
ITV News, Blundeston Prison Closure: https://www.itv.com/news/anglia/story/2013-09-04/blundeston-prison-closure/
Blundeston Prison: Inside Reggie Kray’s old prison cell, by Laurence Cawley: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-37449347
David Bowie on Death, Violence and Chaos in “Outside”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-R9W2fUddiE
Monty Python, ‘The Meaning of Life: Death’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoBTsMJ4jNk
The Sixth Sense: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJ_bWcN8YkM
Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991) – We’re Dead Dude: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAtwRoFSlOE
The Book Thief, Death’s prologue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-QN60Bmf40
Time Team – Season 19, Episode 3 – The Drowned Town (Dunwich, Suffolk): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uvg1vm5KqVk]
Meet Joe Black – Death and Taxes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcktbuVgHvw

Sebald’s Ghosts : Travelling Among the Dead in The Rings of Saturn. / Cooke, Simon.
In: Journeys: The International Journal of Travel and Travel Writing, Vol. 11, No. 1, 2, 2010, p. 50-68.
Sandra Newman on Sebald: https://twitter.com/sannewman/status/905062032491380736

The Eagle Has Landed

“At precisely one o’clock on the morning of Saturday 6 November 1943, Heinrich Himmler, Reichsführer of the SS and Chief of State Police, received a simple message… The Eagle Has Landed.”

For the 7th CSB podcast, we’re in North Norfolk looking for the tiny village of Studley Constable, as described in Jack Higgins’s classic WW2 thriller about the attempted kidnap of Winston Churchill by a small band of German paratroopers.

On the marshes of Stiffkey, amongst the remains of gun emplacements, pillboxes, tank traps and POW camp huts, we find a perfect place for Germans to sneak in and sneak out of the country. We visit a lot of villages – with mills, churches, bridges, and pubs – none of which quite match Studley Constable.

But at Weybourne Camp, we do find enough evidence of a visit by Churchill in 1943 to believe that Higgins was not entirely making this whole thing up.

“At least fifty percent of it is documented historical fact.”

Each month we road-test a work of fiction that appears to be curiously specific about dates and locations. We go to the places mentioned and see if descriptions are accurate, journey-times credible, dates and days all in order.

Sources & credits

Air Raid Sirens followed by the All Clear: https://youtu.be/erMO3m0oLvs
Come Along a Me – The Singing Postman: https://youtu.be/Zz2CuTu6_Zs
Hev Yew Gotta Loight Boy – The Singing Postman: https://youtu.be/8W10ILSTzjA
Der Adler ist gelandet (1976) – Musik: Lalo Schifrin: https://youtu.be/xMzaVU-O-g4
Dad’s Army Theme: https://youtu.be/wmQcMVlx-sM
Dad’s Army Theme (Arthur Lowe Version): https://youtu.be/gzG1uXzxRGs
Michael Caine Speaking German: https://youtu.be/Q6MD8B0UhHA
The Eagle Has Landed (1976) – Michael Caine Interview: https://youtu.be/zWWwKY2F7Ks
Broadsword Calling Danny Boy’ by Geoff Dyer: https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/308/308319/-broadsword-calling-danny-boy-/9780141987620.html
A life in writing: Jack Higgins: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2010/jul/31/jack-higgins-life-harry-patterson
Churchill’s WarTime Engagement Diaries: https://gwtoday.gwu.edu/winston-churchill%E2%80%99s-daily-calendar-provides-different-look-world-war-ii
My father drove the train Churchill used on visit to Norfolk: https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/my-father-drove-the-train-churchill-used-on-visit-to-norfolk-1-4113881
Hitler’s secret airstrips that were built by spies in Norfolk: https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/554096/Adolf-Hitler-Norfolk-second-world-war
Weybourne Camp: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weybourne,_Norfolk#Weybourne_Camp
Blakeney Hotel: https://www.blakeney-hotel.co.uk/

The Ballad of Peckham Rye

Welcome to the 6th CSB podcast where we take you on a merry tour of the magical land of Peckham in South London, courtesy of Muriel Spark and her superb (and remarkably short) novel ‘The Ballad of Peckham Rye’.

We start at the address in Camberwell where Muriel Spark lived and wrote this book. We then follow a number of lost – or perhaps completely mythical – pathways down the old Surrey Canal, past a number of long-gone pubs in Peckham & Nunhead, before emerging on to the ancient Rye – where Boadicea may or may not have popped her clogs.

Tim gets very excited about the number of pubs you get to visit by following this book – some of them still there and serving pints! Lloyd remains sceptical about the existence of an ancient nun’s tunnel under Gordon Road, whilst waxing lyrical about the delights of 1950s Algerian wine.

Each month we road-test a work of fiction that appears to be curiously specific about dates and locations. We go to the places mentioned and see if descriptions are accurate, journey-times credible, dates and days all in order.

Sources & credits

Fings Ain’t Wot They Used To Be, May Bygraves – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eg-Ycc-yKqY
Marigold Girls – from Londoner’s Pub Talk – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pX2bG1dYTw8
Elsie and Doris Walters, Knees up Mother Brown – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdRxWZ5-mvg
Boudica: The Warrior Queen – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaKU29mxepo
Tommy Steele, Handful of Songs – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSQvtHQnxvs
The Two Ronnies, Down the Pub – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-BLmDkKZ80