From Gilbert and George to the Kray Twins, from Cockney costermongers to cocky young bands posing in front of Banksy grafitti, let Alan take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of another kind of London.

This is a book of history walks like no other (one is on a train for a start.) Packed with facts, lies, sights, insights, bad jokes and more than a few strong opinions, this is an insider's guide to London's most exciting cultural quarter, perfect for people who wouldn't normally be seen dead with a book like this.

Based on the authors cult theatrical tours - and illustrated with maps, cartoons, photos and collages by the author and acclaimed animator Kate Sullivan - it's irreverent, pertinent, passionate and very funny: the antidote to Albert Square and all those bloody Jack The Ripper tours.

From the pouncing pirates of Wapping to the tikka touts of Brick Lane: from the rampaging radicals of Whitechapel to the Canary Wharf towers, there are a thousand years of history, thirty nine cobbled streets, one Tracy Emin and a distant smell of beigels in this book.

The Brick Lane Bookshop bestseller of the year  

Published by Quartet Books at ten pounds (although Amazon sells it quite bit cheaper.) Special signed and doodled in copies are usually available in the Brick Lane Bookshop.

Amazon reviews not written by friends...

"Having visited the East End for the past 20 years on the trail of Mr Gilbey's dreaded nemesis, Jack the Ripper, I thought maybe it was time I learnt a little more about the history of the area; apart from what I already knew about the weaving industry. Well, what a hoot I had along the way on my virtual tour from the comfort of my front room. I've traversed many of the streets and visited a few of the places in this alternative guide book to the East End but was astounded at how much I didn't know - this gem of a book will definitely be coming with me to Spitalfields and Whitechapel in the next few weeks. This book is Horrible Histories for adults and just as hilarious as the kids books!"

 

"This is a wonderful book. It repays being read from the beginning rather than dipping in as you will then begin to appreciate the remarkable insight Alan gives to what may seem ordinary streets. He is witty, erudite and sometimes a little rude about the areas he shows us but if you wanted the best guide to the 'EastEnd' you could not find better than Mr. Gilbey. Buy this book, you will not regret it. If there is a better book I have yet to find it."

 

"My family hail from the area so I was pleased to see Alan acknowledge the complex history of the area. But you don't have to buy it as a guidebook, it's a riveting read too and even if you're not there you can visualise the scenes. In a day of identikit guidebooks and tedious tourism this stands out as a wry and lively book. With the added bonus that, if you pick a rainy day, you can do the DLR tour from the comfort of a driverless train. If a man is tired of London and Blue Badge or Ripper walks, you should be buying this for him. And it's handbag sized too for the woman wot walks..... "

 

CONTENTS

The Backpassages of Spitalfields.

The biggie: where it all starts, for Alan as a tour guide and you as an explorer; a microcosm of the greater East End story. This is a tale of two cities starring weavers, match girls and a notorious Jack (but not the one you're thinking of). You'll uncover many histories in the now fashionable streets around Brick Lane.

So it's Sunday and You Want to Go to Columbia Road?

Well, here's an extra amble to help you find it.

Whitechapel's Always Felt Dodgy.

On this tour you'll discover a rough, tough, sometimes dangerous-to-know district that seems to love extremes. Full of loud opinions and larger-than-life characters, you'll dodge the Kray Twins, Joseph Stalin and Michael Jackson stealing the Elephant Man to find the site of London's missing mountain.

A Wapping Great Adventure.

Wapping is London's quietest urban village, but once it was a frontier town. On this stroll you'll skirt the serpentine Thames to hear terrible tales of pirates and escaped tigers, riots in churches, and The Battle of Cable Street.

Down in the 'Ditch.

Beyond Brick Lane lies London's first Theatreland, its earliest council estate and its silliest haircut. Mixing old and new like an overpriced cocktail you'll discover Little Hanoi, A Child of the Jago and the birthplace of the Shoreditch Twat.

Catch the Light.

Tired of walking? Here's a trip on the Docklands Light Railway that will speed you through the remnants of the world's largest port, London's new financial district and the old Isle of Dogs. Why not sit at the front and pretend to be the driver?

Further Reading.

Some books Alan bought and copied stuff out of.

Plus random bits on council estates, school strikers, the Blitz, lesser know Jack the Ripper suspects, how not to talk Cockney and things that are 'Bollocks But True!'


 

"Nah, it's shit."