17 January 2017 | 1 °C

Santa's Lap: Wardour to Bond

By Talia Last edited 121 months ago
Santa's Lap: Wardour to Bond
London_A_to_Z_

Every day this month the Londonist team will be pointing you in the direction of a Christmas present that (with a bit of luck) you won't already have on your list. Climb up onto our collective lap and we'll see what we can move from our sack to your stockings...

This might be the most important thing any Londoner should have. Boring? Yes, a little, ok quite a lot. But if you constantly have a certain friend who rings you ALL the time for directions, then the Christmas present they deserve has to be the hallowed London A to Z

Yes, we might all have been prone to have a giggle at our friends who whip out their A to Z's in a location emergency, but without them where would we be. You might have missed that snog, forgotten that art exhibition or not bumped into Will Young propping up a bar somewhere. As much as we'd love to have a copy of google maps bubbling round in our brains, we're not yet living in a Torchwood world.

Plus you might not know that the A to Z books originated in London and were set up by a woman. Phyllis Pearsall got lost in Belgravia in 1935 and had only a twenty year old OS map to guide her. Probably peeved at arriving at the party way after all the free booze had gone, Phyllis resolved to fix this mapping problem and set out to create the first A-Z. She worked 18 hour days and walked 3,000 miles to map the 23,000 streets of London in the 1930s.

Find out more about Phyllis at The Wapping Psycho

Previously: Punk Rock Baby, London in a Bag, Sultan's Elephant, Your Favourite London Sounds.

Last Updated 07 December 2006

Dave

There's nothing boring about the London A to Z. It's an immensely practical piece of kit for any active Londoner.

I would especially recommend the 'mini' (i.e. large-jacket-pocket-sized) version. Anyone who calls it boring soon shuts up when they want to navigate their way to a party/bar/restaurant somewhere obscure, and you're the only person with a map.

The "boring" people are clearly the ones who stay at home, worrying that they might get lost...