One of the nicest, and to me the oddest, things I have ever read about this blog was David Cairns of Shadowplay writing that it’s “not just for cockneys”. Why, as anyone self-respecting Londoner knows, very few people in the capital are yer actual born-within-the-sound-of-Bow-Bells cockneys, anyway. I’m certainly not a cockney. I’m not even a Londoner, really, because I was born hundreds of miles away from the Big Smoke.
But what Cairns meant, I think, is that Silent London is not just for Londoners. The blog was born when “hyper-local” was a big trend, and its initial purpose was to keep tabs on the burgeoning silent movie scene in London. Ever since I stopped running listings, it has been decreasingly London-centric, which may be a good thing, depending on your postcode. To be honest, many of my most popular posts were written in Italy, or about German, American or French films.
Silent London has always attempted to give a flavour of what was happening in the international silent film scene, even if that’s from an English perspective. Just before the pandemic sent us into a series of lockdowns, I had reported from Bratislava, and Paris, after all. And I was anticipating visits to Scotland and California. Somehow I managed to blog from Athens, Greece last year too.
Not that there was ever a shortage of screenings to occupy me in London. The silent film scene in the capital in particular was going great guns pre-pandemic, and I have no doubt that it will get back up to speed when we open up the cinemas and concert halls again. Hasn’t The Kennington Bioscope conquered the world online, after all?
But something else has happened since the pandemic began. I have moved out of the city, to the coast, close to a rather gorgeous silent-era cinema, and some great repertory venues. The blog will continue, and I won’t be renaming it, but my London bias may melt away even more … To be fair, I was always quite keen on goings-on in Leicester, Bristol and Bo’ness after all. I’m not sure anyone will spot the difference. Or had you already guessed?
I may be losing my accent, but not my religion.
I hope you’ll stay with me, while the roar of the traffic subsides, and only the seagull cries and crashing waves break the peace and quiet. Silent London remains not so much a place, more a state of mind.
• If you like the beach as much as I do, you may like my BBC Inside Cinema video essay on the British seaside on film.
• Silent London will always be free to all readers. If you enjoy checking in with the site, including reports from silent film festivals, features and reviews, please consider shouting me a coffee on my Ko-Fi page.