Books: Curiocity

A line of blog posts highlighting something I found interesting. Something that sparked curiosity, whiled away over a few hours. Something I liked, anyway.

There’s no particular form, style, or topic that I’m going to stick on. I may (read: will) cover YouTube channels that I like, or books I’ve read. There may be reports on places I’ve been, or things that I have thinged with. Objects, groups, articles, foods and insights; all are fair game here. In this fine place, the only rule that goes is: ‘I found that interesting’.

One of the many beauties in the world is that there is so much more to it, so much outside of the daily prescription, that no one person can have found the right way to live, or the most important things to know. But I feel that the world (on balance) rewards the spirit of curiosity, adventure, and exploration that we held in our youth, and doubly so if we can maintain it into adulthood.

As I find things, and under the understanding that what appeals to me may not appeal to you, I may well write about them here.

For my first post on this line of thinking, then, is a tribute to curiosity itself, in the form of a book. A book called Curiocity.

Published in 2016, I found this book fairly soon after its release. While perusing Waterstones for a present one pre-birthday weekend, I found this book and was immediately captivated by it. Not long after gifting it to another, I soon went back and obtained a copy for myself, too.

Something for everyone.

Curiocity is a book about London, but as the tag line of its back cover says, it is about seeing London differently. Technically, it is an A-Z of London, covering an enormous number of topics that are punctuated by lovely little pieces of artwork. It has a scrapbook feel that I think is deliberate. This is a collection of facts, information, observations, witticisms and much more.

The book itself notes that it rewards a random drift through the pages, picking and poking as you will, rather than slog through the whole thing in order of A-Z. But you still can, or you can use the contents page and index to review topics that appeal. This book aims to ignite the ember of curiosity in your mind, and send you wandering out into London, to discover for yourself what it has breifly mentioned.

The written tone is one of an idle conversation, rather than a dusty and fact-laden treatise on London. It is wishes to talk you into going places, and could easily be used to find something or several somethings to do for a weekend.

A weighty piece of work, this is something that the authors, Henry Eliot and Matt Lloyd-Rose clearly put a lot of love into. It’s not quite back-pocket guide-book material, and I’m not certain you’d want to carry it all over town with you. But you might; I’m not here to judge. It cost me £30, but I do think that this is a very worthwhile amount of money, as this is a well presented hardback. The bright red cloth cover will ensure you never lose the thing, so it will be sticking around for you. Unless perhaps the entire interior of your abode is bright red. Again; not here to judge.

Sound advice. See London differenty.

Not everything the book mentions is entirely as suggested on the page. There is, for instance, a mention of Pimlico once separating from the UK. This references the film Passport to Pimlico, as a suggestion you visit Pimlico and check out the sights. While the goal is laudable, the core ‘fact’ is a little tongue-in-cheek – the heart-warming 1948 film is entirely fictional, as far as I can tell.

That’s no criticism, though, make no mistake. The gentle sense of fun throughout the book is absolutely lovely. It isn’t even slightly about being a serious and scholarly tome, it is about instigating the exploration of London as a joyous adventure into parts unknown.

I’ve not read every page yet, but do like to have a nose at it from time to time. In a quick page-turning drive-through for this post, topics that have leapt to the fore (and nearly derailed my writing on several occasions) include: Cheese Bowling, Folkmoot, Prisons, Mazes, Night, Dating (and Mating), The Police, Wilderness, News Papers, Unrealised Plans, Guilds, Witches, Shipping, Elves, Armchair Sports, Biscuits, Fireworks, Yeti Spotting and Underground (not the Underground).

As you can see, even from that brief dabble, there is quite a breadth of topics to be uncovered in this book. It is most definitely something to keep close to hand, for those days when adventure called but didn’t leave a message.

I think that on moving to London for the first time, each person should be given a welcome a pack. In it would be a number of things:

  • A copy of Peter Ackroyd’s London: The Biography,
  • A copy of Secret London,
  • A map,
  • A pamphlet about Meetup, Citysocialiser, Curious Kat’s Adventure club, Kens Events, The Idler, The Last Tuesday Society and A Curious Invitation,
  • A quick hug and a reassurance not to worry, it will all be okay,
  • A reminder not to trust all strangers that offer hugs and reassurances,
  • An umbrella with bottle of sun cream taped to it, to really send a message about the weather,
  • A copy of Curiocity, by Henry Eliot and Matt Lloyd-Rose, 2016, Particular Books.


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