Jessica Adams finds the website, photographs, magazine and books that makes London peculiar…

London, but not as you know her...

Gavin Hammond, who makes music with Sweet Tooth, has been photographing London upside-down in puddles for a long time. The stunning results make London look like a place for time-travellers. Gone is the colour and visual noise of the city. In its place you’ll see a London you never knew. Gavin’s London playlist for The Holiday Goddess Handbag Guide is here.

Recognise this? (Gavin Hammond).

Smoke – A London Peculiar

Night Bus to Camden - a peculiar history of London's music venues

Smoke (a London Peculiar) is a cult website, magazine and small publisher devoted to the strangeness of London. A favourite Smoke trick for London visitors is Urban Intervention – like this –

Urban Intervention No. 43

Find a busy bus stop and then, when a bus has pulled up and the doors have opened, point at the driver in terror and shout “it’s him – he has returned!” before running off flapping your hands and gibbering.

Urban Intervention No. 37

Dress up as a tube-train driver and then, when the train is travelling between stations, walk briskly back through all the carriages muttering “we’re going the wrong way… I told them it was the wrong way…”

Smoke’s real claim to fame is its interior knowledge of London’s alternative music scene, though.

The Astoria, The Rainbow, the Bull & Gate, UFO, Blitz, the Living Room, the Marquee, the 100 Club, the Brixton Academy, the Roxy, the Vortex, the Nashville Rooms, Billy’s, the  Blitz and the Batcave have all made London herself – quite peculiar.

Smoke’s latest publication, Night Bus to Camden, explores the past and suggests venues for the present. And it also answers questions like this:

“Was the Camden Falcon in the mid-eighties the den of depravity that you might think from listening to Talulah Gosh records?”

” Didn’t weird stuff used to happen on Eel Pie Island? And what about those gigs in Chislehurst Caves… was anybody there… anybody there… there…?”

Or, as Smoke suggests, maybe you just want to ask if anyone else used to go to that “weird little club on Dean Street in early 1980; because you think you might have left your pirate hat on the cigarette machine…”

Well worth a look. It’s good to see that Smoke, the magazine, is back on sale too. It’s the ultimate non-tourist London fanzine which for its 5000 regular readers a few years ago, was the only cult guide in town.

They even used to stock Smoke in front of Vogue, at Borders on Oxford Street.

The writers at Smoke have a deep love for what they call their wayward, wonderful city. So if you are in search of a genuinely peculiar London peculiar, this is the place.

About Holiday Goddess Editors

Holiday Goddess. Travel for Less.