Friday, 2 June 2006

I have been trying to come up with a good reason to blog about Smoke, apart from the fact that it is a wonderful quarterly magazine that deserves to be read widely - particularly by anybody who loves or hates London, or does not know it well enough to form an opinion. Subtitled "a London Peculiar" and describing itself as "words, photos and graphic art inspired by the City", Smoke is a labour of love by South Londoner Matt Haynes, and North Londoner (by adoption at least - I believe that underneath she is actually of the Welsh persuasion) Jude Rogers. It appears roughly quarterly, and issue number 8 was waiting for me on my return from Llangollen (of which more later).

Each edition (I have all except, tragically, the very first one) contains a wonderfully unpredictable mixture of essays, black and white photographs, and a number of ongoing series of microfeatures on aspects of London. Some of these are long running: we are up to number 7 in the series on London's campest statues (outside Pemberton House in EC4), while others start off well but disappear without trace shortly afterwards: I don't think we got past the first of Areas of London that rhyme with bits of a full English breakfast (Osidge, in Barnet).

So why do I think it appropriate to plug this excellent organ now? It's not that I have a piece in the next edition (although I am certinly thinking of writing something for Matt and Jude* to consider. It's just that they have just started a new series of microfeatures on a subject close to the heart of this blog. London Elephants started in issue 7 with that thing in the middle of Wandsworth Bridge roundabout. This issue we have the Stratford rhubarb (as pictured). These are elephants in the sense of elephants in the room - "things that are so hugely and mind-bogglingly inexplicable that, somehow, they don't register".

So now you know. Do go and subscribe. If you have an opinion on the greatest city the world has ever known, then Smoke will support or challenge it. If you don't, then Smoke will give you a great chance to form one.

* It looks as if Jude is moving on. Good luck to her, and even more to Matt, left to produce issue 9 on his own.

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