London has always moved and surprised me, reinventing itself in ways both fresh and familiar. It’s a contrary, complex and creative city, an anarchist of a thousand faces – fickle and unfailing, tender and bleak, ambitious and callous.
I went to London because, for me, it was the home of literature. I went there because of Dickens and Shakespeare.
My whole life as a grammar-school boy, getting to Cambridge University and working on the ‘London Sunday Times’ has been very aspirational.
Gandhi wanted to meet with Churchill, his most bitter foe, when he visited London in 1931- but it didn’t happen. Churchill wanted to go to India personally as prime minister in 1942 to negotiate a final settlement on India with Gandhi and the other nationalist leaders – but the fall of Singapore prevented it from happening.
When Edward Gibbon was writing about the fall of the Roman Empire in the late 18th century, he could argue that transportation hadn’t changed since ancient times. An imperial messenger on the Roman roads could get from Rome to London even faster in A.D. 100 than in 1750. But by 1850, and even more obviously today, all of that has changed.
I have run with the Olympic Torch during the 2012 summer games in London and the 2014 winter games in Sochi.
When my first novel was published, I went in great excitement round bookshops in central London to see if they had stocked it.