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Smoke: A London Peculiar


36pp. £1.70. (£2 including p&p, from PO Box 14274, London SE11 6ZG)

No 1 Poultry: 'that jaw-droppingly ugly lump of pink and beige-striped marmoreal vulgarity, ' writes Matt Haynes, joint instigator of this new occasional magazine for lovers of London; and he laments the fact that the 'eye-dazzling Mies van der Rohe sky sculpture' intended for the site was never built. He's none too happy either on a trip to St Pancras, where, with the Channel Tunnel link under construction, the Grade I-listed gasometers (pictured) have been dismantled and the area 'is once more a victim of railway-driven desecration'.

Smoke, its first edition comprising 36 pages of small, dense type interrupted by occasional photos, is quirky, entertaining and written from the heart. It's in the lineage of offbeat city exploration that includes the Surrealists (Aragon's Paris Peasant), the Situationists and Iain Sinclair - though Sinclair is amusingly sent up. The majority of pieces in this miscellany are brief but there is room for more extended ones - Haynes again, in the further reaches of the Docklands.As if to guarantee future issues, the magazine inaugurates several series, among them 'London Pop Girls' (Alma Cogan), 'Bus of the Month' (No 253), and 'Lost London Books'a 1963 volume on London pubs by Alan ReeveJones, with its 'rich Wodehousian prose'.

At £1.70, self-indulgence and rudimentary design can be overlooked - Smoke deserves to prosper. Its editors should send copies to the London Metropolitan Archives, because future historians will value it.

Potential contributors to Smoke should contact matt@smokelondon. co. uk

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