Another guidebook to London, this one proving its worth.
Guidebooks—there’s one for every occasion. And now a new guide to London, a city with enough guidebooks to plaster every window and wall within. But wait. London boulevardier Cross isn’t here with the latest quirky take on the oubliette under the Tower of London. “The aim of this book is just to give you a feel for each place, and to let you know what to expect when you get there.” That calls for atmosphere, for psychogeography, for all the elementals that make a place: lights, sounds, smells, scenery, architecture, the level of neighborhood care, and the ephemeral things noticed only by serious walkers and nose pokers. Among the color photos, maps, and paintings, Cross can be practical: his guide offers opening times, prices, routes, stations, recommended time for appreciation. For the tourist who hopes to not look like a tourist, he has tutorials on phones, postage, Wi-Fi spots, and—thank goodness—public restrooms. The book is divided into sensible parts: landmarks, sightseeing buses and boats, itineraries (some afield), and a very choice chapter of “Top Ten Lists,” enumerating the good, the bad, and the ugly. “A trip to Abbey Road is the perfect day out for me,” he says. “And it’s also the perfect place to see a bit of road rage too.” Pudding Lane, where the Great Fire of 1666 started, may be a letdown, being in rather good shape, but Cross has an idea: “Let’s burn it down again!” Then there’s the Chatham Dockyard, a ride on the Eye, the Whispering Gallery, the Globe Theatre, Soane’s Museum (getting so close to Seti I’s sarcophagi, you breathe his ancient exhalations), etc. Cross is a hoot, a fine blend between the footloose guides and those on the erudite side, a Nagel or a Blue. Stick this 900-plus-page guide in your e-pocket, and you’ll only be disappointed if you so choose.
A work in progress that’s already bearing serious fruit.