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Robert Lordan

Robert Lordan

Robbie is a London cabbie, born and raised in the capital’s hilly north-west. Like many Londoners, his roots are a diverse mix… including Irish and Arapaho Indian. Exploring this wonderful city and sharing its many intriguing secrets is his true passion.  Follow his adventures on his blog View from the Mirror: A Cabbie's London or on Twitter: @Cabmirror

News (27)

David Bowie’s London: 13 places connected to the star’s life and career

David Bowie’s London: 13 places connected to the star’s life and career

It’s tough to sum up what the late, great David Bowie meant to myself and countless others. So I’ll keep it simple. He was a legend. He was a Londoner. This great city should be immensely proud of him. So to honour his life and career, here's a round-up of some of the London sites connected to the star:  1. 40 Stansfield Road, SW9 It was at this Brixton address on January 8 1947 that David Robert Jones was born. His mum Peggy worked as a waitress and cinema usherette while his father John was employed by the children’s charity Barnardo’s. When David was six, the family moved further out into suburban Bromley. 2. Stockwell Primary School, SW9 Just around the corner from Stansfield Road is Stockwell Primary School where the young David gained a reputation for ‘defiance and brawling’. Later, when he was 14 and a pupil at Bromley Technical High School (now called Ravens Wood), David was punched in the face by his friend, George Underwood during a bust-up over a girl. Despite damaging David’s eye permanently (although, let’s be honest, it did leave him looking pretty darn cool), the pair remained life-long mates. Photograph: Tupungato 3. Denmark Street, WC2H In the 1960s, Denmark Street’s La Gioconda Café (now the Flat Iron restaurant) was where the teenage mod David would come to chill with his pal, Mark Feld – aka glam rocker Marc Bolan. In between scandalising folk with their long, flowing hair, David and Marc would scour adverts in the music press, eagerly trying to find a w

Seven places in London linked to ‘A Christmas Carol’

Seven places in London linked to ‘A Christmas Carol’

Charles Dickens's 'A Christmas Carol' is as London as they get – but do you know where to find some of the story’s possible locations? Blogger and cabbie Rob Lordan seeks them out...  As a London cabbie, I dread Christmas. Traffic’s ferocious, folk are stressed and boozed-up revelers hurl themselves at you like extras from ‘The Walking Dead’. But to save my sanity and keep my humbug in check, I decided to look for the sites associated with Charles Dickens’ heartwarming festive hit:  Newman's Court, EC3 Ebenezer Scrooge is a money lender – an early version of Wonga, if you will (minus the faux-cuddliness) – and when we first meet the famous miser, he’s sour-pussing Christmas Eve away in his dreary counting house. Dickens informs us that the 'gruff old bell' of a church peers through Scrooge’s window, and that his put-upon clerk, Bob Cratchit exits the office via Cornhill in the City of London. This suggests Scrooge’s dosh-shop is situated in Newman’s Court, which is in a tiny alley overlooked by St Michael Cornhill church. Cornhill is also home to the Counting House pub.  Mansion House, Walbrook, EC4N As the afternoon draws on in the beginning of the story, Dickens describes the excited preparations occurring nearby – including within the 'mighty Mansion House', in which the Lord Mayor 'gave orders to his 50 cooks and butlers to keep Christmas as a Lord Mayor’s household should'. Simpson's Tavern, Ball Court, EC3V After shutting up shop, Scrooge heads to his 'usual melanchol

15 places that appear in ‘An American Werewolf in London’

15 places that appear in ‘An American Werewolf in London’

On June 18, director John Landis will be in town to host a concert at the Royal Albert Hall dedicated to the work of film composer Elmer Bernstein. In 1981 Landis wrote and directed one of the best films ever set in our city, for which Bernstein provided the score. A lot has changed since ‘An American Werewolf in London’ was released, so these images are a bit of a trip down memory lane, but here are all the places that feature in the much-loved comedy-horror mashup.  The Black Swan, Ockham Okay, we’re cheating with this one as it’s in Surrey. But c’mon, it’s less than a mile outside the M25 and is way too good to leave out. The Black Swan was used for the interior of The Slaughtered Lamb, the isolated Yorkshire boozer where backpackers Jack Goodman and David Kessler encounter a pentagram and some very cagey locals – including two much-missed legends, Brian Glover and an incredibly young Rik Mayall. London does have its own Slaughtered Lamb pub; you can find it on Great Sutton Street in Clerkenwell. Chiswick and West Brompton After a hasty retreat from The Slaughtered Lamb, Jack and David are pounced on by a werewolf. Jack is killed but David survives and is transferred to London where he recovers in the fictional St Martin’s hospital, suffering some seriously WTF nightmares along the way. Two old hospitals were used for St Martin’s: Putney General Hospital and Chiswick Maternity Hospital in W6.  Redcliffe Square, Earl's Court After being discharged from hospital, David m

15 places in London with Scottish roots

15 places in London with Scottish roots

When it comes to banishing the misery of January you can’t beat Burns Night. Poetry, whisky, haggis – the Scots know what they're doing. But if you can't experience it in Scotland on Jan 25, fear not; there are plenty of Scottish nooks and crannies down here to get you in the mood. Tiles at Baker Street tubeRobert Lordan Baker Street Sherlock Holmes and Gerry Rafferty’s 1978 song referencing the illustrious road spring to mind when I'm on Baker Street. The aloof sleuth was of course created by Edinburgh-born author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, while Gerry Rafferty hailed from Paisley. NW1.   Caledonian RoadRobert Lordan Caledonian Road The Cally takes its name from the former Royal Caledonian Asylum, an institution set up in 1815 to help Scottish kids orphaned by the Napoleonic Wars. The site is now covered by the Caledonian housing estate. Note the thistles – the Scottish national symbol – topping the railings outside. N7.   The Caledonian ClubRobert Lordan Caledonian Club, Halkin Street Established in 1891, the Caledonian Club was founded to provide a base for Scots in London. Membership, as you can imagine, is pretty exclusive, but if you manage to get a peek in, they apparently have one of the finest collections of malts this side of Gretna Green. SW1X 7DR.   Church of ScotlandRobert Lordan Crown Court Church of Scotland, Russell Street Located in Covent Garden, this little church is believed to have been founded during the reign of James I. The current building dates

Nine things you probably didn’t know about Euston station

Nine things you probably didn’t know about Euston station

It may feel modern, but Euston station is 180 years old this year. Here’s everything you need to know about the grandaddy of London’s inter-city termini.   Public domain   The station was nearly based at Chalk Farm When plans were first mooted in the early 1830s to build a railway between London and Birmingham, landowners at the southern end got all NIMBY. The line was originally going to stop short at Chalk Farm – a place way out in the sticks back then. A little arm-twisting meant permission was eventually granted to bring the tracks closer to the metropolis, terminating at ‘a vacant piece of ground in a place called Euston grove’.   Allan Warren, Creative Commons Licence It’s named after a very big house in the country The plot of land snapped up for the terminal belonged to George Henry Fitzroy, the 4th Duke of Grafton whose crib happened to be Euston Hall, a stately home in Suffolk. When he died in 1844, the Duke was 85 years old – an age described at the time as being ‘considerably beyond the ordinary limits of human existence’. Pictured above is his very distant descendent Hugh FitzRoy, the 11th Duke of Grafton, whose grandson Henry is the current Duke.   Public Domain Early trains needed a lift Because of the steep gradient between Euston and Camden, early engines faced an uphill struggle. This meant they had to be hauled out of the station on a long winch, which was powered by a huge, stationary steam engine based at Chalk Farm.   Robert Lordan It gave

Have you played these video games set in London?

Have you played these video games set in London?

The London Games Festival 2017 is in town until April 9, which is quite apt really considering how often the capital has appeared in pixels. Here are 22 games set in our city. ‘Hampstead’ (1984) This typing adventure – imaginations were required back in the day – kicked off with your character dumped on the social ladder’s lowest rung. Your goal? To chase the Thatcherite dream of securing a swanky new life in leafy Hampstead.  ‘Give My Regards to Broad Street’ (1985) Based on a frankly atrocious Paul McCartney movie of the same name, this ‘80s curio saw you playing Macca himself. The aim was to race around London (gloriously devoid of traffic in 1985 it would seem) to pick up fellow band members from various tube stations, before rushing them to Abbey Road Studios in order to finish off a track for his new album. In case you were wondering, Broad Street was a railway terminal which once stood beside Liverpool Street.     ‘The Rats’ (1985) Okay, so the graphics might not be able to compete with the latest Xbox One games, but if you were to boot up this old cassette you’d be in for some real chills. Based on James Herbert’s 1974 novel, this creepy part-survival-part-strategy game immersed the player in a London gripped by panic, courtesy of a killer rat plague.    ‘Werewolves of London’ (1987

Six places in London connected with Pocahontas

Six places in London connected with Pocahontas

Notepads at the ready, people. This might come up at your next pub quiz: 400 years ago this March, the legendary Pocahontas died just outside London. Folks tend to think of her as a Disney cartoon, but there was far more to her life than that. Here are sites around the city (and one outside of it) associated with this remarkable Native American woman. Ludgate Hill Born around 1596 in the US state of Virginia, Pocahontas met English settler John Rolfe whom she married in 1614. Two years later, the couple sailed to England along with 11 other members of her tribe – the Powhatan – in what was essentially a PR stunt for the cash-strapped Virginia Company of London. Once in the capital, the group’s first digs were at the Belle Sauvage Inn on Ludgate Hill. It was described at the time as being the ‘haunt of thieves and conmen… noisy, dangerous and evil-smelling’. Shame they didn’t have TripAdvisor back then. Had it not burned down in 1666, the inn would have stood roughly opposite today’s City Thameslink station.   Robert Lordan   St Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside Another English chap associated with Pocahontas was Captain John Smith (wrongly portrayed as Pocahontas’s beau in the 1995 Disney film). According to legend, the explorer was spared a nasty execution when (in Smith’s own words) the young Pocahontas 'hazarded the beating out of her own brains to save mine'. A statue of Captain Smith, copied from a sculpture in Jamestown USA, can be found in the yard of St Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside,

Seven places in London connected with the Elephant Man

Seven places in London connected with the Elephant Man

In 1980 the late, great Sir John Hurt  – who sadly passed away last week – teamed up with David Lynch to take on one of his most challenging and moving roles: that of Joseph Merrick, aka ‘The Elephant Man’, who became synonymous with Victorian London. Lynch described Hurt's portrayal of the tragic figure as 'glorious' – but if you're yet to watch the much-loved classic, here's the story of Merrick and the places connected with him.  Whitechapel Road, E1 Joseph Carey Merrick (named John in Lynch’s film) was born in Leicester in 1862. Although a healthy baby, signs of the disease which would come to define his life began to appear in early childhood. By his mid-teens a further series of bitter twists saw him packed off to the workhouse. Sussing his deformities could offer a way out via the dubious route of the Victorian freak show, Joseph signed up with Tom Norman, a flash showman who peddled seedy ‘penny gaffs’ across the capital. Joseph arrived in London in November 1884 and, under his new showbiz name, 'The Elephant Man' was put on show at 123 Whitechapel Road (now renumbered 259). Joseph also lived on the premises.  Berners Street, W1 The building in which the public paid to gawp at Joseph stood opposite the Royal London hospital. When 31-year-old Doctor Frederick Treves spotted the gaudy poster boasting about 'the greatest phenomenon' his medical curiosity was piqued. A private viewing was arranged and when Dr Treves saw Joseph he suggested an immediate examination be co

Five things you should know about the Peace Pagoda in Battersea

Five things you should know about the Peace Pagoda in Battersea

There’s no getting away from it, 2016 was dire. But hopefully, things might just look up in 2017. If not, thankfully there’s a place you can head to whenever life’s rough and you’re in need of some quiet reflection: Battersea Park’s Peace Pagoda. Here’s everything you need to know about it.  Robert Lordan It was a special gift The Peace Pagoda was presented to Londoners by the Venerable Nichidatsu Fuji (affectionately nicknamed ‘Guruji’ by his close friend Mahatma Gandhi) in 1984. Founder of the Japanese Buddhist movement, Nipponzan Myohoji, Guruji stated that 'Civilisation is not to kill human beings, not to destroy things, nor make war; civilisation is to hold mutual affection and to respect one another'. Following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he pledged to build pagodas worldwide as shrines to peace. The Battersea pagoda was constructed by nuns, monks and other followers of the Nipponzan Myohoji sect and was completed in 1985 just weeks after Guruji died at the grand old age of 100.  Robert Lordan It tells a story The pagoda features a series of gilt-bronze statues which represent the most significant stages of Buddha’s life; birth, contemplation leading to enlightenment, teaching and death. Although the pagoda is open to all, these statues are considered sacred (so no climbing!).  Robert Lordan It's got terrific views The pagoda is located right beside the Thames offering a panoramic view of Chelsea Embankment. The perfect place to relax and forget

Eight places in London connected with the birth of television

Eight places in London connected with the birth of television

80 years ago this month, the BBC began broadcasting a regular TV service from Alexandra Palace – an event which marked an ongoing relationship between London and the development of television. Here are eight locations associated with the birth of the box.  Steve Daniels via Geograph Daily Express building, Fleet Street TV’s granddaddy was John Logie Baird, a genius inventor from Helensburgh, Scotland. After accidentally causing an explosion at his Hastings workshop in 1924, JLB moved to London where, like most newcomers, he soon found himself strapped for cash. Figuring a spot of publicity might boost his coffers, John popped to Fleet Street where he approached the editor of the Daily Express to ask if he’d be interested in printing a feature about a machine for 'seeing by wireless'. Clearly no visionary, the grumpy ed ordered one of his heavies to remove this supposed 'lunatic', uttering the words 'Watch him carefully; he may have a razor hidden!'   Robert Lordan Selfridges, Oxford Street One fellow with more faith in John Logie Baird was American store magnate, Harry Gordon Selfridge. Always keen to bag the next gimmick, Mr Selfridge invited JLB to host daily demonstrations of his invention in the store’s electrical department. Cobbled together from a soapbox, sheets of cardboard and various bicycle bits, JLB’s ‘Televisor’ looked more like something from ‘Blue Peter’ at this stage, and although only eerie silhouettes of objects could be glimpsed on the tiny receiving sc

12 Londoners that will give you nightmares

12 Londoners that will give you nightmares

From literature to urban legends, there have been some pretty creepy Londoners dreamt up over the years. Here are 12 of them guaranteed to give you the chills (or at the very least, ideas for your Halloween costume). The Pig-faced woman of Marylebone Rumoured to have been exiled in a plush house on Manchester Square, this David Cronenberg-esque hybrid was hot gossip around 1815. Elegant body aside, the noblewoman’s bonce was 100 percent sow, a condition meaning she dined from a trough (albeit a silver one) and could only communicate in grunts. The moral of this grim fable? Don’t mess with a witch on your wedding day. Spring-Heeled Jack First sighted on Clapham Common one misty evening in October 1837, this eerie figure boasted glowing red eyes, metallic claws and the ability to spit blue flame, making him the perfect mascot for a heavy metal band. The following night Jack startled a coach on Battersea's Lavender Hill, causing it to crash, and then fled the scene by vaulting a nine-foot wall, cackling all the way. Over the following year, reports of Spring-Heeled Jack – as he came to be known – flooded in from Ealing to Forest Hill, although who or indeed what he was remains unsolved. Sweeney Todd and Mrs Lovett Said to have been tucked away up Fleet Street’s Hen and Chicken Court, Sweeney Todd’s barbershop was the last place you’d want to have popped for a short back and sides. As the urban legend goes, the demon snipper’s chair concealed a crafty mechanism that tipped hap

11 lost rivers in London you should know about

11 lost rivers in London you should know about

Every September, London celebrates its lifeblood with the Totally Thames Festival. But this grand old river isn’t the city's only waterway. There are plenty more out there to consider, many of which have been banished below ground over the centuries and now flow right beneath our feet. Here’s a selection of some of those mysterious, lost waterways.     Dreamy skies over Chelsea #lotsroadpowerstation #sunset #london A photo posted by Adam Sheath (@adamsheath) on Jun 20, 2016 at 2:33pm PDT   Counter’s Creek Once running from Kensal Green to Chelsea, Counter’s Creek is believed to have taken its name from ‘Countessebregge’, a fifteenth-century bridge built by the Countess of Oxford near present-day Olympia. ‘Samfordesbrigge’ (‘Bridge of the Sandy Ford’ to you and me) was another place where you could mosey on over the Creek. The name has since morphed into ‘Stamford Bridge’, home of The Blues. In the nineteenth-century the Creek was converted into a canal, then a railway. Hop on the Overground between Shepherd’s Bush and Imperial Wharf today and you’re pretty much traversing the Creek’s old riverbed. What remains of the Creek now meets the Thames close to the former Lots Road power station.    A photo posted by Maps Illustrated (@mapsillustrated) on Jun 7, 2016 at 3:42am PDT Effra Back in the day, the Effra was the main river south of the water. Wide and deep, it’s said that King Cnut – careful with that spelling – managed to sail his troops along it towards what i

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