Join John Rogers as he ventures out into an uncharted London like a redbrick Indiana Jones in search of the lost meaning of our metropolitan existence. Nursing two reluctant knees and a can of Stella, he perambulates through the seasons seeking adventure in our city's remote and forgotten reaches.
When John Rogers packed away his rucksack to start a family in London he didn't stop travelling. But instead of canoeing up the Rejang River to find retired headhunters in Sarawak, he caught the ferry to Woolwich in search of the edge of the city at Crayford Marshes.
This Other London recounts that journey and many others - all on foot and epic in their own cartilage-crunching way. Clutching a samosa and a handful of out-of-date A-Zs, he heads out into the wilderness of isolated luxury apartment blocks in Brentford, the ruins of Lesnes Abbey near Thamesmead, and the ancient Lammas Lands in Leyton. Denounced by his young sons as a 'hippy wizard', Rogers delves into some of the overlooked stories rumbling beneath the tarmac of the city suburbs.
Holy wells in Lewisham; was sailing in Clapton; a heretical fresco in West Ham. He encounters the Highwaymen of Hounslow Heath, Viet Cong vets still fighting Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket in Beckton, Dutch sailors marooned at Erith pier; and cyclists - without Bradley Wiggins' sideburns - at Herne Hill Velodrome. He heads out to Uxendon Hill to witness the end of the world, Horsenden Hill to learn its legend, and Tulse Hill to the observatory of the Victorian Brian Cox.
This Other London will take you into the hinterland of the city. The London that is lived in; the London where workaday dormitory suburbs sit atop a rich history that could rival Westminster and Tower Bridge. In an age when no corner of the globe has been left untrampled-upon by hordes of tourists, it is time to discover the wonders on our doorstep. This Other London is your gateway through the underexplored nooks of London. As Pathfinder wrote in 1911, 'Adventure begins at home'.
Foreword written and read by Russell Brand.
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
The guy seems like a nice enough chap but I'd assumed "Adventures in the overlooked city" meant I'd read about some hidden interesting facts about London. Whilst there are a few, they're bogged down in the authors political opinions and hidden behind wispy autobiographical stories. It should be called "An autobiographical journey through overlooked London by John Rogers" or something of that ilk.
I have an incredibly small brain so perhaps I'm missing something, should I know who John Rogers is?
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
I'd previously read John Rogers' excellent collection of walking narratives (into some of the curiosities of London that don't automatically jump off the map) when it was published a few years ago. But this version, read by John himself, adds another dimension to the book: the author's naturally engaging voice, drawing out the wit and wisdom of the writing, is perfect for this one. As with the author's brilliant walking videos, it's an absolute pleasure to accompany John on these walks, warts and all.
Episodes of history, cultural movements, esoteric knowledge and social commentary are all here, with a fine take on humour, too. If you've any interest in hidden places and their stories, consider this a must.