The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there. And so I’m loving the safari around the world’s largest city and capital of the British Empire, afforded by Chris Heathcote’s inventive Newspaper Club debut As It Is To-Day.
Chris has been feeding Newspaper Club’s editing software Arthr on a diet of old London press cuttings from the 18th Century to the 20th. The result is a delightful gallimaufry (my all time top new word of the week): here the city is described at the height of its pre-eminence in 1851, there is a reflection on the sad fate of Cleopatra’s Needle by the 1920s.
My own favourite dish gives a taste of the hazards of the 1790s “On Walking London Streets,” a 14-point list of instructions for avoiding pick-pockets, horse-drawn traffic and falling slops. I love the idea that the characters of my 1794 stories were moving through a million-person city for the first time. Was this their missing manual?
Also, an umbrella was considered “a machine”. So too, in the right hands, is a newspaper. You can buy it here.