Londoners are paying through the nose to live here. We have to work very hard to make the rent and it is very easy to slip into a cycle of working, resting, and never going to seek out the things that have made London a desirable destination in the first place. I want to get my money’s worth, and get to know London better. The next time I decide the grass is greener and fantasise about moving to some Italian hilltop village where everyone’s in bed by 9pm, I want a reminder that for all the inquities that go on in London, it’s still one of the most exciting places on Earth.
This blog started life as an attempt to visit every place/object in Nairn’s London, the chef d’oeuvre of the late Ian Nairn. This is still the long-term aspiration, but in accordance with Jonathan Meades’ credo that “there is no such thing as a boring place”, I will try to write about everywhere my travels take me, whether in London or beyond. In the fields of architecture and photography I am a dilettante with no education or training whatsoever, but I’ll try to take passable pictures and find salient things to say about the places I see. Some posts will be old-fashioned ones where I wander around a London district with a battered Nairn under my arm, some will be the architectural bits of my holiday photos.
Ian Nairn is as enlightening a Virgil as any Dante could wish for; a great writer who knows his stuff, but more importantly puts his heart into it. You won’t always see eye to eye with him, but he will train you well; you learn to pay as much attention to a shabby block of council flats as you would to a Gothic cathedral. His cheaply-made “man in a Morris Minor” television gives you a sense of the man; that crack in his melancholy voice gets me every time.
I come from Belfast, but I managed to escape. I have lived in London for some years, where I scrape along by working in a library and get my kicks from watching Millwall lose 2-0 every other week. I have been known to do music, previously as 1/2 of The Vichy Government, and my first book (The Seven Noses of Soho) was published in October 2015. Follow @mrjamiemanners for my official authorial presence on Twitter, or @jamiemannersRIP on Twitter for moans about Millwall’s latest capitulation.