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Strolling through this wide sweep, gazing across the fleet of trains bound for Paris or Brussels, the powder blue steel vaulting soaring above them, the inside of a giant whale’s ribcage, a hymn to the infrastructure of our hyper-connected age; like Jonah swallowed up by it all, by the hum of the giant extractor fans, the deep hum at the heart of it all – back here, home again, lost in London…
With a property portfolio consisting of a beach hut in Essex, and a career as evanescent as it is unprofitable, the narrator of Unreal City is a flaneur fallen on hard times, a creative bewildered by the slick speed of the digital age, watching as the sculptors and painters and bon viveurs begin to slip away and the advertising hipsters take over old stomping grounds.
From the nights in old Soho, where an anonymous green door was the gateway to a decadently dingy paradise, to the days amid the shabby post-industrial elegance of Hackney’s canalside warehouses, this is a nostalgic love song to the drifters, the artists, the glamorous misfits, the degenerate waifs and the barmaid-enchantresses of the capital’s backstreets and shadowy corners.
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