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‘Always turning’: Colin MacInnes’s Tour of the Thames

John McLeod

‘The Thames is London’ (Colin MacInnes)[1]

Colin MacInnes never really liked Highgate. Aloof from the rest of London, he found there a disquieting atmosphere of melancholy which underlined his sense of its remoteness from his beloved city. It was, for him, a deathly location: while staying in the area during his army days in the 1940s he witnessed ‘from the shelter of a Highgate brick garden wall two feet high, the destruction of a comrade (and of his girl’s throat, though she survived) on a way to a dance in the local hospitality’.[2] Even today’s Highgate, with its fashionable restaurant chains and luxurious estate agencies cannot escape a certain degree of morbidity: the blue plaque commemorating the dwelling of Mary Kingsley, the graveyard where the body of Karl Marx lies next to that of Claudia Jones, help conjure a sense of lives lived elsewhere, of radicalism laid to rest in the comfortable, clean surroundings of London’s suburbia. For MacInnes, reflecting on the district at an earlier time, in 1962, it was a vertiginous location where the Londoner ‘far from the river may lose his centre of human gravity’.[3] Viewed from the heights of Highgate, the Thames appeared far away and miniscule, ‘as a silver, winding nerve’.[4] Bereft of sensation amongst the unpolluted tranquillity of the district’s Georgian terraces, MacInnes quickly longs for resuscitation ‘in the murky purlieus of the medieval warren’; and like a latter-day Dick Whittington, who also famously stopped briefly in Highgate, he hastens back to the river where the city’s sensations and delights await.[5] The further from the river we wander, it seems, the further from London we are.

By his own admission, MacInnes was a funny kind of Londoner, calling himself an ‘inside-outsider’ in a phrase which Tony Gould borrowed for the title of his biography of one of London’s most important, but today often neglected, writers.[6] As Nick Bentley has argued, MacInnes’s work ‘has largely been overlooked in recent critical analyses of the period’, although contemporary scholarship suggests a (welcome) shift in his critical fortunes.[7] Born in London in 1914 MacInnes grew up in Melbourne, Australia, and returned to the city in 1931 where, after brief stays in mainland Europe and his army service during the Second World War, he settled until his death from cancer in 1976. London preoccupied much of his writing and journalism –- especially his trilogy of London novels, City of Spades (1957), Absolute Beginners (1959) and Mr Love and Justice (1960) –- although the city about which MacInnes wrote often bore little resemblance to the officious London of postwar English austerity. MacInnes’s London was resolutely of the demi-monde, populated by New Commonwealth arrivants, chic teenagers whose sense of style was cheerfully international and disrespectful of English conformity, and the nervous bohemian underworld of drinking clubs and dancehalls which often attracted pimps, prostitutes and other shadowy figures from the city’s murky underside. MacInnes’s writing often took his readers into this new, culturally subterranean city incubating in the immediate postwar years, one which (he clearly hoped) would open refreshing new possibilities for ‘an impoverished country bereft of all former imperial power’.[8]

When MacInnes looked at Londoners, he wanted to see a determinedly cosmopolitan population created by ‘[c]enturies of intermarriage with a succession of immigrant peoples’ and epitomised, surprisingly perhaps, by the figure of the fatalistic but inexhaustibly imaginative Cockney whose antic sensibility, he claimed, was set specifically at odds with the prevailing English Puritan perfectionism.[9] Like all visionaries, MacInnes could be remarkably idealistic and utopian in making such confident pronouncements; but in the late 1950s and 1960s, he was almost alone in exploring, assessing, valuing and often applauding at length the new forms of cultural endeavour which postwar immigration was making possible, and doing so with considerable enthusiasm as an ‘inside-outsider’ of London’s latest diaspora communities, whose company and conviviality he pursued avidly. The shortcomings and problems of his writing -– its negrophilia, the enthusiastic sexual idealising of black men, a sometimes glib investment in the radicalism of popular culture –- perhaps matter less than the very fact of its existence at a time of increased overt hostility specifically to postwar black Londoners epitomised by the Notting Hill riots of 1958 and the murder of Kelso Cochrane in 1959 (for which nobody has been brought to justice).

MacInnes’s representation of London’s landscape is also mediated by a desire to highlight the city’s cosmopolitan diversity and transformative impurity, and it is here that the Thames becomes such an important figurative location for MacInnes. As I shall argue, MacInnes’s representation of the Thames is at the heart of his transformative vision of London as a site of potential cosmopolitan subversiveness which deeply values vernacular London life. MacInnes’s London novels feature significant scenes set specifically on or by the Thames; while his textual accompaniment to Erwin Fieger’s book of photographs, London, City of any Dream (1962) returns time and again to the river as London’s most important feature. I shall proceed first by considering this non-fictional work before moving to comment upon City of Spades -– although my essay by no means exhausts the role played by the recurring image of the Thames in MacInnes’s writing.

MacInnes often enjoyed assuming the position of a guide, especially when it meant taking his readers into a London where, as Montgomery Pew puts it in City of Spades, ‘you’ve never set foot before, even thought it’s always existed just under your nose’.[10] Indeed, in his introduction to his collection of essays, England, Half English (1961), he presents himself as a cheerful guide and invites his readers ‘on a brief conducted tour of the ensuing pieces’.[11] Several of the essays attempt to induct a middle-class readership into the world of youthful pop subculture, while others touch upon the triad of client/prostitute/pimp in London’s covert sex industry, the city’s drinking dens, and the delights of jazz. One piece, ‘A Short Guide for Jumbles’ (1956) is in the form of a ‘question and answer’ dialogue which attempts to expose and correct the imagined questioner’s ignorance of London’s latest newcomers. It is interesting, then, to see what happens when MacInnes is charged with the responsibility of guiding a reader through a more familiar, conventional and serene vision of London, as is the case in London, City of any Dream. In this book which features a series of colour photographs of the city by Erwin Fieger, MacInnes writes the introduction and offers number of short textual commentaries which respond to Fieger’s work. The relationship between MacInnes’s writing and Fieger’s pictures is intriguing. While MacInnes is always admiring of Fieger’s work, the fit between each figure’s vista of London is by no means perfect.

MacInnes’s introduction is repeatedly biographical and often speaks more of his own dreams of the city rather than Fieger’s, and it concludes by pointing out the differences between what he and his collaborator have captured in making their own images of the city. MacInnes also laments the failure of both still and moving photography to move beyond merely picturesque accounts of the capital (Fieger is rather graciously exempted from this general trend, of course). Although Fieger’s photographs sometimes depict London’s bars, pubs, and student protests, and focus upon black and Asian Londoners in Petticoat Lane –- in tune, of course, with MacInnes’s writing of the city -– Fieger displays a prevailing predilection for a familiar, monumental London of landmarks and cultural stereotypes: the Palace of Westminster, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, the Albert Memorial, a London policeman, bowler-hatted businessmen exiting Bank tube station. This more familiar vision of London, however innovatively photographed, is not one which particularly interested MacInnes, and as such it creates a challenge for his introduction and subsequent guide through Fieger’s material. He meets this challenge, I would hazard, by turning frequently in his writing to the Thames as a way of negotiating between Fieger’s more officious city and MacInnes’s culturally subterranean vista of London’s past and present. Indeed, the Thames is where monumental London is figuratively pulled into the undercurrents of MacInnes’s transitional, transnational metropolis, as MacInnes seeks to open up the channels which connect up these seemingly disparate ‘dreams’ of London. He resolutely attempts to frame Feiger’s vision of London within his own terms of reference.

MacInnes’s first mention of the river in his introduction occurs amidst his childhood memories of touring London ‘on top of a General Motors omnibus’ from where he first remembers seeing the Thames.[12] Awestruck by the sight of a huge ship sailing through the open arms of Tower Bridge ‘out of the city into the world’, such memories clearly inspire his claim (which he also states elsewhere) that the Thames ‘is London, far more so than the Seine is Paris, or the Tiber, Rome’.[13] Indeed, this particular location on the Thames fascinates MacInnes, as it foregrounds the river as distinctly transitional: from city to world, from river freshwater to oceanic brine. As he puts it later, ‘The capricious Thames is always turning’; here at Tower Bridge, the river marks a turning point for London in several ways:[14]

London essentially is . . . a port: which fact, for anyone who enters the town by land or air, and who never ventures eastwards beyond Tower Bridge, can so easily be forgotten. The Thames is tidal to its upper reaches as far beyond the city centre as semi-rural Richmond. Twice in each day and night the town is washed clean by salt water that brings into the murky urban air scents of the sea, and wheeling gulls, and, as far up as London Bridge, huge steamers. Visitors (and indeed Londoners) know chiefly the capital westward of St. Paul’s; but if you draw a line north and south through the site of the cathedral, as much of the town lies eastward round the widening, dock-infested Thames.[15]

In this passage MacInnes subtlely but surely pulls his readers –- cast, once again, as visitors at the mercy of an amiable guide –- towards his particular dream of London by making the familiar monuments which characterise several of Fieger’s photographs part of a distinctly oceanic rendering of the city, which comes to resemble a strangely amphibious metropolis. Warming to his theme, MacInnes proceeds by praising the (pre-Dockland) milieu of St Katharine’s, Shadwell, Surrey Commerical and East India Docks, and describing the ‘complex of basins’ at the Isle of Dogs’.[16] ‘It seems’, he reflects, ‘almost – though on a larger (and uglier) scale -– Venetian: the sea is more important than the land, and the main thoroughfares not by road, but water’.[17] In London’s docklands -– to be spied upon from the Westminster pleasure steamers that venture beyond Tower Bridge -– there is to be found a scene of such energy which rivals ‘in its profusion of small craft busily plying diagonally across the oily water, the terrestrial bustle of Piccadilly Circus’.[18] His tour eastwards takes us far as the Cutty Sark at Greenwich, reminding us of the days of the days when ships left London’s docks to traverse the shipping lines of Empire, rounding the Cape and heading to the antipodes to gather grain. For MacInnes, then, London is primarily a seascape rather than a landscape, and MacInnes turns to the Thames as a way of exposing the connections between the officious, monumental London beloved of tourist vistas to a number of subaltern influences which include international traffic (of goods and people) and the world of work and labour. Monumental London obscures these other stories, and MacInnes’s craft is to rehistoricise and remap the city’s more familiar sights and sounds in terms of the transnational, vernacular London which admits the presence of a diverse body of Londoners.

As the introduction proceeds MacInnes reverses the trajectory of his tour and takes his readers westwards along the Thames from Tower Bridge towards the Palace of Westminster. It is a cunning manoeuvre: we effectively return to the city’s familiar centre but look at it again – oceanically, if you will -– through the transitional, transnational optic which MacInnes has constructed in his depiction of the eastward docks. His vista of London as seen from the Thames west of Tower Bridge in 1962 re-installs its historical absences, specifically those linked to London’s popular, vernacular culture. He refers specifically to Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s Bankside (today’s Tate Modern gallery), which was ‘in Defoe’s day site of the “stews” or brothels, and in Shakespeare’s of bear-baiting gardens and his own Globe theatre’.[19] London Bridge, undistinguished and bland, is linked to the medieval pontoons such as the Ponte Vecchio of Venice which boasted shops and houses on their piers. Such ghostly locations sit squarely alongside the solid grandeur of St Paul’s Cathedral, exposing the incompleteness of the visual spectacle. It is as if MacInnes is filling in textually what is otherwise missing from Fieger’s striking photographs, providing an important, if imposed, historical frame. Much has been lost in this part of London, it now appears, such as the Adelphi and the splendid bankside houses of the aristocracy of which only Somerset House remains. The greatest loss in this part of London concerns the terraces of the Adephi, beneath which ran ‘a Pirenesian complex of vaults and cellarage into which, before the embanking of the river, the waters of the Thames seeped with the tides’.[20] It seems that the city west of Tower Bridge cannot impress as much as the docklands to the east, and the greatest measure perhaps of the sense of loss generally conjured in this part of the tour is the encroaching of terra firma on the river’s domain, turning an amphibious location into a ‘concrete barracks’ best considered an act of architectural vandalism.[21] Heading west, MacInnes seems to suggest that there is too much dry land, an excess of unremarkable concrete and architectural banality.

Revealingly, MacInnes terminates his tour upriver by inviting his readers to contemplate London’s beauty in terms of its natural, rather than built, environment, with the Thames leading the list of characteristics:

This beauty arises, first, from three natural features: from the tranquil meanderings of the Thames, half sea, half fresh water … then from the variety of limpid and dramatic skies which, even when dimmed or polluted by mists or fog, are of timeless serenity; and then from the profusion of parks and squares where nature –- trapped like a precious prisoner in the whole conglomeration -– seems even more exquisitely poignant than in the countryside itself.[22]

Significantly, Absolute Beginners begins with the un-named narrator looking at a London panorama from a point of elevation in a department store and making his own hymn to London’s parks and river. But London, City of any Dream is also Fieger’s world, and in his collection of fifty-seven photographs of London only four feature the Thames (there are far more pictures of London’s parks) while none depict London east of Tower Bridge. MacInnes’s enthusiasm for the river expressed in the passage above is not shared by his collaborator. His introduction to the photographs exists at something of tangent –- although as we have seen, MacInnes freely admits that each viewer of London will see something different. An important effect of the introduction, however, is to amplify those photographs of the river which take on a particular kind of aura in the collection; while contrariwise those pictures of London’s well-known buildings are linked textually to the city’s unseen vernacular spaces. Uneasy co-contributors, MacInnes’s and Fieger’s visions of London sit unsteadily together.

To a reader of MacInnes’s London novels, one of Fieger’s photographs which is perhaps most in tune with MacInnes’s representations of the city concerns the black woman snapped shopping in Petticoat Lane. Perhaps a recent arrival from Africa or the Caribbean, her hair is gathered in a pink headscarf, and she wears a garish pink overcoat against the cold. Accompanied by a friend, she stares upwards at unseen goods, her face a mixture of stoicism, resignation and fortitude. Her thoughts remain her own. Fieger’s photograph fixes our position as intimate yet secluded observers: his picture cannot make available any access to her thoughts, or look at London through her eyes, or describe the wider world of her particular narrative -– her closed mouth confirms her silence. In his London novels, by contrast, MacInnes indeed attempted to access the thoughts of new black Londoners and open a literary space where the city as they saw it was given a voice and highly prized: as Horace Ové has said, MacInnes was ‘the first white to speak honestly to blacks, as an equal’.[23] There is, then, a vital cultural politics to MacInnes’s writing which is worthy of commendation. That said, MacInnes was characteristically outspoken and opinionated in his non-fictional writing, and at times he imports his views into his novels, placing in the mouths of his characters similar comments he had made in journalism. His representation of black Londoners is compromised by the imposition of his thoughts into their speech, so that it becomes problematic to argue that MacInnes is giving voice to those about whom he writes. His London novels bear witness to competing impulses: on the one hand, they recognise new Londoners and the cultural innovations they made possible, but on the other hand they may appropriate what new Londoners have made of the their city for MacInnes’s own designs. Caught between illumination and cliché, the lives of new Londoners sometimes find little room for expression on their own terms. Thus, when MacInnes depicts Africans in London, for instance, his writing at times shifts uncomfortably between revelatory and formulaic modes of representation, despite his cheerful engagement with the new lives, cultures and relationships which were being forged in a changing place.

An interesting example of MacInnes’s more successful writing about migrants in London occurs in City of Spades, significantly in a scene set on the Thames, when he takes the issue of racial and cultural clichés as his theme. During the scene, the Nigerian migrant Johnny Fortune takes a cruise eastwards on a pleasure steamer with Muriel Macpherson, a local white girl with whom he has become involved, to see Greenwich Palace. MacInnes positions the occasion as an interruption of the novel’s narrative, which depicts Johnny’s arrival and survival in London and his growing friendship with a local Welfare Officer, Montgomery Pew. Titled ‘First Interlude: Idyll of miscegenation on the river’, the short scene is typical of MacInnes’s fictional approach, in that it exists primarily as a good excuse for the characters to have a topical conversation; and as we shall see, the scene may well have been in MacInnes’s mind when he wrote his introduction to Fieger’s photographs, such are the many similarities. The scene frequently cuts between the couple’s conversation and the voice of the steamer’s tour guide, who points out places of interest as they pass by. The guide is a curious character whose strange ‘insider-outsider’ demeanour may well define him as a satirical surrogate for MacInnes himself. He is described as ‘a hybrid character –- nautical in a peaked cap and jacket of dark blue, but landlubber from the waist down with grey slacks and sandals’, whose voice ‘described, in accents part Cockney, part bogus North American, part the pedantic patronizing of the lecturer, the points of interest on either shore, disturbing the peace and contemplation of the few, but delighting the docile many’.[24] The disruptive, delightful London which the guide exposes on the Thames appears decidedly transnational and vernacular, where high culture is earthed through its connection to London’s masses. The steamer heads east, past St Paul’s Cathedral and Bankside power station where the guide points out ‘in the district know as the “Stews” –- with its bear-gardens, and colony of Dutch and Flemish women of easy virtue, as they were called (now all cleaned up, of course) –- the site of the old Globe theatre, erected by the brothers Burbage in 1598 for the smash-hits of their mate Bill Shakespeare’.[25] The travellers’ attention is also directed to the Billingsgate fish market and wharves, the alleged opium dens of Limehouse Reach, and to Wapping Old Stairs where, we are reminded, Judge Jeffries was arrested in 1688 fleeing an angry London mob –- while a literally subterranean London is referenced when the steamer sails above the Frenchman Marc Isambard Brunel’s Thames tunnel. Tower Bridge appears significantly as a site of transition: Johnny and Muriel are described gazing at its castellated design while the narrator remarks that it is ‘the last gate before the river becomes the ocean that weds the city to the outer world’.[26]

As the steamer passes beneath Tower Bridge, Muriel’s vision of a city which she thinks she knows well begins significantly to shift:

The boat passed underneath the bridge, and faces suddenly grew darker. Muriel watched her native city as the boat chugged on between Venetian façades of eyeless warehouses, dropping into ancient roman mud, where barges lay scattered derelicts under lattices of insect cranes. This was her first sight of Dockland, shut off from the inquisitive view on land by Brobdingnagian brick walls. Missing the familiar pavements and shop windows, Muriel saw her city as a place quite unfamiliar, and wondered what it might do to her, and Johnny Fortune.[27]

At this moment, Muriel passes from a familiar cityscape into a much more aquatic London which seems akin to the experience of the capital suffered by Johnny and other migrants. The reference to Swift emphasises the almost fantastical spectacle she sees, while the sight of darkening faces perhaps points to (in albeit unhappy Conradian terms) other communities of Londoners who have arrived, like Johnny, from Nigeria and other African nations. Indeed, the steamer is soon passed by a large British merchant ship perhaps sailing, suggests Johnny, to Africa, hence emphasising London’s transnational connection to places and people overseas, as well as its existence as a nodal point on a larger migrant network of itinerancy and passage (Johnny ends in the novel about to board a ship at London Docks bound for Lagos). Rendered in these terms, there is perhaps something idyllic in London when envisioned in this way from the Thames. With their fingers affectionately interlocked and sitting at the prow of the steamer, Johnny and Muriel are perhaps symbolic of new postwar forms of multicultural, convivial encounters which happily push beyond the obligations of race and defy the divisive logic of prejudice. Londoners, it might seem, need to make a similar kind of journey to Muriel, and readily admit the influence of the city’s unfamiliar, vernacular disposition to their own visions of London. In encountering a city more oceanic than concrete, and being exposed to the many different kinds of people whom the river has brought and gathered together, postwar Londoners may discover a way of imagining London which points the city towards a better, less divisive and transitional future.

Yet MacInnes knows that such visions are, ultimately, dreams, and no matter how much he wishes to defend such reckless utopianism, its fragility must be admitted and mourned. The transformative possibilities of vision enabled by the pleasure cruise downriver glumly remain part of an unrealisable dream. Johnny and Muriel’s conversation is riddled with cliché and stereotype –- as are most conversations in this novel -– as each character struggles to go beyond their ultimately prejudicial views of the other’s ‘kind ’. Johnny tries to disinvest Muriel of her views of black men, suggesting that she need not believe all that she reads in the British newspapers, but his comments about white women often fall back on a number of generalisations of black women in Africa. Muriel’s insistent questioning of Johnny about black men in general reveals how she views Johnny in terms of racial type, and also suggests that she may be primarily aroused by him because of his race rather than his particular, idiosyncratic attitudes. When she asks Johnny ‘Do you really like us better [than black women]?’, her use of the second-person pronoun shifts seamlessly, but corrosively, from the individual to the group.[208] Johnny must speak for all black men, or be silent. There is little difference between Muriel and the un-named boy, serving drinks from steamer’s bar, who asks Johnny is he is a boxer and presumes that he might be able to provide him with the autograph of the middleweight prizefighter ‘Sugar’ Ray Robinson. When Johnny sexily embraces Muriel, the other passengers, ‘beamed at the embrace: this was how they expected a coloured man to act’.[29] The couple’s relationship struggles to free itself from being described as ‘miscegenation’, and they are complicit in its ensnarement in a racialising rhetoric. Returning to Muriel’s question quoted in the passage indented above, it seems that there is an important distinction to be made between London and Londoners. London may well have the power to ‘do’ important, transformative things to Johnny and Muriel, enabling their fledgling relationship to develop; but while Londoners (including the two lovers) refuse to transform their vision, such possibilities are unrealisable.

Just as the steamer’s occupants need a guide to point out a vision of London otherwise hidden and neglected, MacInnes takes on a similar role in his fiction, casting his novels as attempts to guide their readers to a new vision of London, urgently transnational and transformative, in order to change their, and their city’s, prospect. Londoners need to be more like the London which MacInnes exposes: diverse, transitional, receptive to new cultures and races. Yet there remains in the scene on the Thames a sense of the enormity and great difficulty in effecting this change. When the steamer reaches Greenwich, Muriel declares madly that she and Johnny will live in the Queen’s Palace, designed by Inigo Jones, and they rush to the steamer’s side to disembark. Their hopes are dashed when the helmsman explains that they cannot leave the river: ‘This is the excursion, miss. We take you there and back, to see [the Palace], but you get back off where you came from in the City’.[30] Anticipating MacInnes’s tour of London from the Thames five years later in London, City of any Dream, the trajectory of the journey is reversed and the couple reluctantly head back west to a London of concrete and glass.

In Highgate, MacInnes likened the Thames to a silver, winding nerve. It was, as we have seen, an apt figure for MacInnes’s dream of oceanic London as a place of new pleasurable sensations and feelings, but also a locale of pain. Anticipating later writers like Fred D’Aguiar and Bernardine Evaristo, he envisioned the river as an imaginative site of metropolitan transformation, one that also encapsulated the city’s fundamental character as a place of arrival, departure and settlement.[31] But few chose to see it as such. Again and again, MacInnes (re)turned to the Thames as a site of potential and voiced his dismay at its disregard: in 1967 he declared that ‘[t]he neglect of the potential of the Thames-side as a place of delight is one of the dreariest failures of our city fathers, and ourselves: except in a few places, we turn our backs on this handsome river, which can now only be adequately, if fleetingly, seen from a steamer’.[32] MacInnes’s sense of himself as an ‘inside-outsider’ undoubtedly helped him engage with the city as a place which, as Muriel encounters in City of Spades, can be both familiar and unfamiliar, and one wonders if his visions of London also cast the city resolutely in his own image: of England, but only at most half-English. In MacInnes’s London idyll, the rule of England is confronted with an unruly, insubordinate propensity which has manifested itself across history, from the angry mob hounding Judge Jeffries to the Tower of London where he would die, diseased, in 1689, to the anti-Puritan personality of the 1960s Cockney. Along the Thames, such radicalism is recovered; high up in Highgate, it lies inert. The Thames is London.


[1] Colin MacInnes, ‘The Englishness of Dr Pevsner’ (1960) in England, Half English: A Polyphoto of the Fifties (1961; Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1966), pp. 121-120 (p. 125).

[2] Colin MacInnes, London, City of any Dream, photographed in colour by Erwin Fieger (London: Thames and Hudson, 1962), p. xxvii.

[3] MacInnes, London, City of Any Dream, p. xxvii.

[4] MacInnes, London, City of Any Dream, p. xxvii.

[5] MacInnes, London, City of Any Dream, p. xxvii.

[6] See MacInnes, London, City of Any Dream, p. xiii; and Tony Gould, Inside Outsider: The Life and Times of Colin MacInnes (1983; London: Alison and Busby, 1993).

[7] Nick Bentley, ‘Writing 1950s London: Narrative Strategies in Colin MacInnes’s City of Spades and Absolute Beginners’, Literary London: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Representation of London, 1:2 (September 2003) — (accessed 19 April 2006). Recent studies of MacInnes include John McLeod, Postcolonial London: Rewriting the Metropolis (London: Routledge, 2004), and Caryl Phillips, ‘Kingdom of the Blind’, Guardian Review, Saturday 17 July 2004.

[8] MacInnes, London, City of Any Dream, p. xxi.

[9] MacInnes, London, City of Any Dream, p. xxx.

[10] Colin MacInnes, City of Spades (1957; London: Allison and Busby, 1993), p. 65.

[11] MacInnes, ‘Notes for the Penguin Edition’ (1965) in England, Half English, pp. 7-13 (p.9).

[12] MacInnes, London, City of Any Dream, p. xi.

[13] MacInnes, London, City of Any Dream, p. xi.

[14] MacInnes, London, City of Any Dream, p. xv.

[15] MacInnes, London, City of Any Dream, p. xiv.

[16] MacInnes, London, City of Any Dream, p. xv.

[17] MacInnes, London, City of Any Dream, p. xv.

[18] MacInnes, London, City of Any Dream, p. xv.

[19] MacInnes, London, City of Any Dream, p. xvi.

[20] MacInnes, London, City of Any Dream, p. xvii.

[21] MacInnes, London, City of Any Dream, p. xvii.

[22] MacInnes, London, City of Any Dream, p. xxviii.

[23] Quoted in Gould, Inside Outsider, p. 220.

[24] MacInnes, City of Spades, p. 99.

[25] MacInnes, City of Spades, p. 100.

[26] MacInnes, City of Spades, p. 101.

[27] MacInnes, City of Spades, p. 102.

[28] MacInnes, City of Spades, p. 101.

[29] MacInnes, City of Spades, p. 103.

[30] MacInnes, City of Spades, p. 106.

[31] For a discussion of the image of the Thames in the work of these and other later writers, see chapter 5, ‘Millennial Currents’, in my Postcolonial London.

[32] Colin MacInnes, Sweet Saturday Night (MacGibbon and Kee, 1967), p. 92.

To Cite This Article:

John McLeod, ‘‘Always turning’: Colin MacInnes’s Tour of the Thames’. Literary London: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Representation of London, Volume 5 Number 1 (March 2007). Online at Accessed on [date of access].