Hol­i­day Home­work

Eng­land’s cap­i­tal has some­thing for ev­ery­one and so does this list of sug­ges­tions that will get you in the swing. By Hazel Flynn.

Qantas - - CONTENTS -

Swot up on Lon­don’s his­tory, cul­ture and beloved icons


If you don’t have young chil­dren in your life, you might think that 2014’s Padding­ton isn’t for you. But this movie, drawn from Michael Bond’s books about the lit­tle bear from “Dark­est Peru” seek­ing a new home in Lon­don, is a funny, life-af­firm­ing joy at any age. Ben Whishaw (James Bond’s Q ) per­fectly voices the ti­tle char­ac­ter, ably sup­ported by Bri­tish favourites in­clud­ing Hugh Bon­neville, Sally Hawkins and Julie Wal­ters (who bat­tle Ni­cole Kid­man as the vil­lianous Mil­li­cent). The pro­duc­tion de­sign and mu­sic are top­notch.

Also con­sider…

◖ Luther: Idris Elba in­hab­its the ti­tle role of a rene­gade po­lice de­tec­tive with such in­ten­sity that you can for­get to breathe as you watch him. In this lim­it­ede­pisode TV se­ries, which be­gan in 2010, DCI John Luther’s Lon­don is gritty and dark but al­ways com­pelling.


Zadie Smith’s best­selling novel, White Teeth, (2000) would have been im­pres­sive from a late­ca­reer writer; as a de­but, it an­nounced the ar­rival of a rare tal­ent. Smith aims to cap­ture every facet of life in the Bri­tish cap­i­tal through the in­ter­wo­ven sto­ries of two im­mi­grant fam­i­lies – one from Ja­maica, the other from Bangladesh – mov­ing deftly from pointed so­cial ob­ser­va­tion and hu­man drama to comic set pieces.

Also con­sider…

◖ Ev­ery­one Brave is For­given

(2016): Vivid, ex­traor­di­nar­ily mov­ing and some­times shock­ing in its de­pic­tion of war’s cost, Chris Cleave’s novel fol­lows its three cen­tral char­ac­ters through the Blitz and be­yond.

◖ The Se­cret His­tory of the Blitz (2015): His­to­rian Joshua Levine re­veals the com­pli­cated mix of he­do­nism, law­less­ness, sto­icism and re­silience that char­ac­terised World War II Lon­don.


Cov­er­ing 2000 years of his­tory, Pe­ter Ack­royd’s highly ac­claimed book Lon­don: The Bi­og­ra­phy is an 848-page thumper. But rather than turn it into a sin­gle epic au­dio­book, pub­lisher Ran­dom House has di­vided it into five themed, user-friendly au­dio­books run­ning three hours each, with ac­tor and writer Si­mon Cal­low pro­vid­ing the nar­ra­tion. Choose from Foun­da­tions, Street Life and the Peo­ple, Trade and En­ter­prise, Fire and Pesti­lence or Dis­tricts and Suburbs.

Also con­sider…

◖ Shut Up (2015): Grime mu­sic is the Bri­tish take on hip-hop that be­gan in the city’s tower blocks and be­came a sen­sa­tion. Stor­mzy is one of its big­gest stars and this in­fec­tious (and ex­plicit) freestyle rap, view­able on his of­fi­cial YouTube chan­nel, pro­pelled him to star­dom. ◖ Sem­per Fem­ina: If grime is too hec­tic for you, calm your ears with Laura Mar­ling’s hyp­notic, eru­dite, folk-in­flected sixth al­bum, from 2017.

(From top) Zadie Smith’s White Teeth; the city’s iconic black cabs and red buses; Padding­ton Bear

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