One day a young Canadian in London for the second time ‘began to conceive of a book that might yield the richness of London now, a collage of voices that together would draw a picture of the city’. This is that book. No review can give an adequate picture of it, because that could be done only by page after page of quotation.
Such a book is not just a matter of walking around with a tape-recorder. You must be able to draw people out, invite them into your confidence and offer them a welcome in which they can expand; and this is clearly something that comes easily to Craig Taylor. Because of this, his reader does not have to be a Londoner to enjoy the book, but only someone who is fascinated by people. Some are loveable, like the Lost Property clerk who rejoices in his job because it proves that many of the people out there are really good, ready to hand in huge sums of money and diamond rings, while others are not, such as the antique clock restorer who describes himself as ‘a lazy sack of shit’ and hates everyone.
The variety is glorious. The only aspect of the city these interviews fail fully to represent is its being a vast collection of villages in which ordinary people can live snugly with their own shops, post offices (if they are lucky), pubs and so on. But in fact that is