Monday, January 26, 2009

Where the streets are paved with gold....

I’ve been in London for the weekend doing a bit of research around Camden where I was introduced to the City’s alternative community. The place is full of different tribes; punks, rockers, goths and emo’s, and whilst it is now a tourist trap full of stalls all selling the same ‘independently’ made items, it still has something of the 1960s ethos that I hope to capture at the beginning of the new novel.

I got a good look around the market and the lock but unfortunately could not see into the Camden catacombs as these have been locked away, I assume for safety, but I reckon they would make a great tourist attraction.

We stayed at the lovely Hoxton, which is a great hotel in that now very trendy area of Shoreditch. I was surprised at how that area of London had changed, with Spitalfields Market looking all shiny and new. Last time I had a look around this area (for a novel that sits in my bottom drawer to this day), Spitalfields was a hole in the ground.

We had some great meals at the new Boundary and a little Italian restaurant across from the hotel, plus a great Sunday roast in The Waterpoet pub.

I had been reading (on an iphone app which worked really well) Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother, a great YA novel set in the not too distant future where a terrorist’s bomb causes the US to slip into a period of reactionary meltdown. Marcus gets caught in the fall out from the bomb and before he knows it he has been detained and shipped off by Homeland Security to an unknown destination. The book explores our rights and a Government’s need to stay within prescribed measures and not deny those laws enshrined in law even with the enormity of the situation. Marcus ends up running his own cyber guerrilla group against those who saw to abuse him of his rights. It’s a poignant, clever book which should be required reading in schools and universities. It lead me to visit the Taking Liberties exhibition on at the British Library which looks at the struggle for rights and freedoms across this country from the Magna Carta to today. There was also a great short play put on by Lois Tucker called Glitch.

Little Brother has also been released by Doctorow under the creative commons license which means as well as it being available in book form, Doctorow also reserves the right to release his books for free electronically. This is obviously working because based on the free iphone copy I bought a paper back version of it so that Madame Vin could read it.

We were also able to briefly catch with old friends and their ‘double trouble’ twins in a small coffee shop somewhere near a street flower market.

I’ll write up more at the weekend and include some photo’s of venues for ‘Hellfire.’

Read this week:

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

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