Book review: Londonopolis by Martin Latham

Londonopolis by Martin Latham
Londonopolis by Martin Latham

This is the sort of book to provoke irritation, annoyance and, finally, someone coming for your throat, teeth bared as they scream, “I can’t take any more!”

What they can’t take any more is the endless stream of curious facts that you (or indeed I) emerge from toilet or bathroom spouting, things like, “Did you know that Peter the Great lived in Deptford and learned shipbuilding there?” or, “Did you know the working day of the East India Company was 9am to 3pm?”, or, “Did you know the cursus at Heathrow is so long and straight people thought it was a Roamn road?” and, finally provoking murderous rage, “Did you know a cursus is a long, straight track with raised banks on either side?” After such a barrage of post latrine and post bath facts, I think any jury would rightly find the accused not guilty, and arraign the author before a court on a charge of overloading the voluble with curious facts, in which case he would surely be found guilty.

So, there you have it: Londonopolis, read it – in bath or toilet or similar dip-into venue – at your peril: you’re sure to emerge to amaze your family and friends with so much London lore that they will, in the end, kill you – thus adding a whole new chapter to the second edition!


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