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Geoff Nicholson: Bleeding London

The aptly named Stuart London runs a London tour company. Or rather, he doesn’t run it. His wife, Anita, runs it while he sets out on his mission to walk on every street in London. The company is called the London Walker (Anita’s maiden name is Walker) and offers theme walking tours of London. Mick, who lives in Sheffield (where Nicholson was born) has been informed by his girlfriend, Gabby, that she was raped by six men in London and he is determined to get his revenge. Judy Tanaka wants to have sex in every part of London. At first she is working in a bookshop, called the London Particular, specialising in books on London, where she first meets Mick who, against her advice, buys a book called Unreliable London. After losing her job in the bookshop, she gets hired as a guide by Stuart’s company and then fired after having sex with him. She then helps Mick get his revenge.

But the main character is not one of these three, it is London, which we see in all its glory and all its dirt, through the eyes of these characters. Stuart’s journeys through London – the famous parts and the boring parts, Mick’s journeys through London, looking for the rapists (he prefers to go on foot), the tours, Judy’s sexual journeys – all combine to give us a picture of London which goes somewhat beyond Big Ben and the Tower of London.

Nicholson’s favourite themes are once again on parade. The rich are savagely attacked, both by Nicholson and by Mick, whose idea of revenge is brutal and cruel. Nicholson’s obsession with obsessives is once again to the fore. But it is his deadpan, dry humour and his esoteric knowledge of London that drive through this novel. Whether you know London or not, you’ll enjoy this novel.

Publishing history

First published 1997 by Victor Gollancz