Freddie Darke (illustrator) – Boz and the Boy

Boz and the Boy

It is March 1837. A young, heavily mortgaged Charles Dickens has newfound fame to nurture, and a family to feed. One ill-fated day, a chance encounter and a single act of kindness together leave ‘Boz’ bereft of his precious ‘mems’ – his author’s notes for a new novel, entitled Oliver Twist.
A nano-novel written by Kevin Millicheap and illustrated by  Freddie Darke, is now published and available for Kindle.

This is an interesting way to read a story, akin to wandering around Dickensian London in the bustling half-dark, taking turnings at random and coming upon unexpected scenes. The notion of reading a story from two points of view at the same time is cleverly set up, and the illustrations are a delight. Freddie’s black and white drawings are filled with detail and touches of accent colour. To quote Proving House Digital‘s press release “Freddie Darke’s perfectly judged illustrations. . .  born out of shadowy caricature, yet subtly communicating the  ambiguity of human emotions … transport the reader to the secret passageways, louche inns and tricksy nooks and crannies of Dickensian London

Even if you don’t own a Kindle, you can download the free software to read the book on your computer.
Go on – buy a copy – you know you want to see and read more.

Boz and the Boy

The Chops
The Chops and Gin



On the day Prince George was born crowds of people waited outside Buckingham Palace for news. These two young men seemed a little out of place but they looked so good perched on the narrow ledge of the Victoria Memorial like a couple of large pigeons with immaculate white shoes.

Frank’s Bar in Peckham

Frank’s pop-up bar in Peckham, enterprisingly located on the roof of a multi-storey car park is an excellent place to watch the sun go down on a balmy night, it exists only during the summer months. The panoramic view of the London skyline is spectacular and St Paul’s cathedral is still a distinctive landmark amongst the 20th Century buildings.

London SkylineHe stood head and shoulders above the rest Tall man

Retractable awning


The last rays made a great shadow play on the concrete wall as the crowds began to leave.shadows

London St Pancras International

St Pancras is one of those places where there seems to be a special atmosphere, it has something to do with transience, everyone who goes there is a traveller, it is a major hub for London as well as being the starting point for train journeys to the Continent.

Its full everyday from early in the morning till late at night, people from all over the world come here in various states of anxiety, excitement, anticipation and sometimes calm. People wait here for their trains, for their friends or family arriving, or perhaps like me, just wandering and observing. There are of course all the people who work in the cafe’s newsagents, tickets offices but there may also be people who come for no other reason than just to be there, perhaps they feel comforted by the noise and the bustle, or able to disappear in the crowds and feel anonymous.

Welcome Home Hug
Welcome Home Hug
Indie Musician
Indie Musician

There are two pianos, painted blue, deliberately positioned to encourage the public to sit down and play, they are well used and loved, rarely idle and played by the widest range of ages and types,it is a joy to watch – and listen.

Japanese siblings

The Photographer
The Photographer

London People

Wandering around with a friend from out of town, I found these people and faces, so many stories in London, right on my doorstep. silhouetteboy
On the south bank of the Thames, these tourists were thrown into sharp silhouette by the brightly sunlit ship beyond.

white toecap At first I thought this man’s shoe was being highlighted by the sun but no, he is actually wearing canvas shoes with white rubber toecaps, his friend’s shadow just happens to be falling in line with the white rubber tip. The strange gesture of pointing his finger straight down, is in fact merely the gentleman getting a good grip on his walking stick, only visible by his right foot.


I sat for some time watching the passers-by in the courtyard garden of the Victoria and Albert Museum, this young boy seemed dedicated to improving his handstand technique in the water, he did it at least 10 times, the first was good, the last ones were excellent.The little girl to the right is desperate to try but I think too scared.

pink dress

I so admire this woman’s dress style, a great lover of Mondrian and a perfectly thought through outfit, even down to the flower earrings and the pink socks.IMG_2529

I looked up and this guy was towering over me, making everyone around look so small!


Its not often hat you see a plait this long and what a beautiful colour too.

The South Bank

The promenade along the south bank of the Thames is a vast meeting and socialising place especially in good weather. Yesterday, although cold, was sunny and the place was packed. There was a food festival as well as the usual free entertainment of street performers.

Annie Mae’s Mac and Cheese stall sells the best Mac and Cheese I have ever tasted, try some if you get the chance.

The silver-haired gentleman who used to blow bubbles for children seems to have been replaced by a young guy with amazing multi-bubble techniques. The older man would blow bubbles for free all summer and then fly to Spain for the winter living on the donations made to him by grateful and entertained parents and children.


The London Eye seen against the Houses of Parliament.
London EyeAnd again, the London Eye but this time glimpsed through a smeary plate glass window, a beautiful scale model.
London Eye model

Living Architecture  has built a boat on the rooftops, it can be hired by the day (at no small expense) but what a marvellous position from which to study the comings and goings on the Thames and to watch the sun go down over the Art Deco buildings on the north bank. A time-lapse video of the construction.
A Room for London - the Boat

South Bank Sunset

London Literary Festival

The Southbank Centre is hosting the London Literary Festival in May. I have attended a number of events, I listened to authors reading excerpts from their novels for World Book Night, its so interesting to hear from the horse’s mouth how the words and phrases sound.  Mark Haddon

Mark Haddon read from his novel The Curious Incident of the  Dog in the Night-time, I also saw the play recently, a masterpiece of staging and acting.  I have also seen him perform a monologue “Swimming and Flying”, he spoke for an hour, moving from memoir to pithy comment, to voicing of fears and witty remarks with a flow and sense of everything fitting together that is remarkable. He performed a new piece at the Hay Festival this week too, I wish I had been able to go.

Last Monday I went to an evening of readings by the 10 authors short-listed for the 2013 MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE. The authors read in their own language, a fascinating to hear words, sounds and accents so unfamiliar, and then actors read the same text in English.

Peter StammPeter Stamm read his piece in both German and English, so interesting to hear the same voice in both languages.

Pip TorrensThe actor Pip Torrens read for several authors who could not attend in person, he has a marvellous rich mellifluous voice.

Lydia Davis Lydia Davies was announced as the winner on Wednesday at a ceremony at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Her stories are marvellous fragments of vitality, she conjures up complex witty scenes with just a few sentences. She is at the forefront of a new movement in short story telling. The form has certainly come back in from the cold. I feel encouraged to write more. . .

Yesterday, I spent the whole day at the Southbank Centre, attending three events. Roman KrznaricRoman Krznaric’s How to Find Fulfilling Work, was all about finding that place where our talents meet our values, he led us through a kind of 10 point plan, and I discovered that I had indeed followed that plan instinctively and unknowingly during the last decade.

Alesander Hemon Aleksander Hemon – The Book of My Lives, was born in Sarajevo, he was visiting Chicago in 1992 when war broke out and has not been able to return. He told us of how it feels to start a new life in a different language and country. He is a very witty man and warm man. I can’t wait to read his other books too,  I bought The Lazarus Project.
Rupert EverettIn the evening  was an Audience with Rupert Everett, he is such a wit and has perfect timing. He is a delightful writer too, his books are filled with snippets from his life eloquently portrayed. He was also the perfect gentleman when it came to signing books, I was third in the queue for my first signing, then I went back again for a second, right at the end of the queue (which was at least 45 minutes long) and he was just as attentive and solicitous as the first time.