New Poppies In The Moat Initiative

My new book Poppies, Pomp And People included the first full written account of how the awesome ‘Poppies In The Moat’ sculpture was achieved. It included statements and interviews by the key players, including Paul Cummins, who had the inspirational, original idea and Tom Piper, who brilliantly designed the setting.

It is thrilling that this is now being followed by a powerful initiative to contact many of the people who bought the acrylic Poppies and learn about where they are now around the world and listening to the stories behind why they were bought. Copied below is a link and explanation of Paul Schofield’s excellent initiative. To buy Poppies. Pomp and People, please use this link.

‘Three years on, Phillip Schofield is fronting a Where Are The Poppies Now campaign to discover the journeys they have taken. The movie will see the ITV presenter encourage poppy-holders across the world to ‘pin’ their poppy to their location on an online map and share the story behind why they bought them.

Launched by 14-18 Now, the arts programme for the First World War centenary celebrations, the campaign aims to digitally reunite all 888,246 faux blooms created by Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper.’

The Moat At The Tower Of London And How It Is Used Today


Using the Moat at the Tower to grow vegetables during the Second World War
The Moat During The Second World War

This old photo shows vegetables and fruit being grown in the Moat at The Tower of London, allotments style, with Tower Bridge in the background. It reminds us how seriously the Nation responded to the need for everyone to help the war effort, while the enemy was trying to starve us by sinking ships bringing food to the UK. Here, at this medieval Castle at the centre of London history, Beefeaters and other staff at the Tower were also busy with this vital work.

In my book, Poppies, Pomp And People, I considered the way in which the Tower is used for promotions, corpotate events and other use today. The rich tradition of ‘sharing’ the Moat continues and I reproduce a piece from the book below:

‘I have listened to many different points of view about the best ways to utilise the Tower’s historical moat. Traditionalists argue that it should remain unspoiled, local residents bemoan its ugliness following use by marquees, and others champion the facility for marketing and promoting ‘today’s Tower.’If you want to purchase a signed copy of Poppies, Pomp And People, just use this link.

Poppies, Pomp And People Talk + Book Signing Event At The Barbican Library


This is one of my favourite venues in London, so it’s exciting for me to hold an event there. I keep these talks light and enjoyable- there is usually someone in the audiencsparedscn2324_orige who volunteered to plant poppies in the Moat during the phenomenal ‘Poppies In The Moat’ event in 2014, so it’s extra special listening to them describing that experience.

Dickens, Justice and Elephants

elephantMy interest in Dickens is very extensive, not least his views about the need for justice and fair play. Aditional to my books and St Katharine’s work, I feel deeply influenced by Charles Dickens, hence my numerous talks on the subject. Dickens was powerfully motivated against injustice of all kinds, from complex legal and government issues to class unfairness and straightforward cruelty- he would have been passionately upset and concerned about this ghastly elephant abuse. He would have been very proud of the people organising this campaign and would have written influential letters and articles to expose this horrible injustice. Incidentally, many people know about how he thankfully saved Great Ormond Street Hospital, but fewer know that he was similarly a great friend and benefactor to Battersea Dogs Home.

Please pass on this information and sign the petition- collectively we can make a difference and demonstrate our humanity.

Thursdays Is Cafe Rouge Book Signing Morning.

20161229-DSC02833On Thursday mornings I’m usually to be found at Cafe Rouge, St Katharine Docks, between 10 a.m. and noon. Some people drop in to purchase one of the books, others to ask questions or to chat about The Tower of London or St Katharine’s and its history. Do come in and say hello if you are nearby, I love sharing knowledge in the subjects I’m obvio9usly enthusiastic about..

Wednesday Means Wapping- Book Signing At The Turk’s Head

Turk's Head, Wapping
Turk’s Head Wapping

aPoppies Pomp and People cover high res jpg (1)


The Story Of St Katharine's Cover

I’ll be book signing at the Turk’s Head from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, as every DSCN4339 (2)week. Please come and chat, I love discussing the local history, whether you want to buy or not. The coffee here is good and the home made cakes are excellent.

Near Disaster That Turned Out Well At The Winston Churchill Theatre, Ruislip!

I have taken this text from a report in a local newspaper. I was not thrilled with the organiser- following the original booking, she hadn’t answered my several emails and phone calls and I haven’t received any apology!
‘Thankfully, the lovely audience that arrived for Christopher West’s talk on Friday morning managed to enjoy the presentation about his new book Poppies, Pomp and 20170127-DSC06545People. It was about a year at the Tower of London and included explaining how the phenomenal ‘Poppies In The Moat’ was achieved. What they hadn’t known was that the organiser didn’t turn up with a projector and screen to enable him to dazzle them with great photos of rarely seen goings on at the Tower! He had to quickly adapt from a carefully prepared powerpoint presentation to an ‘amusing chat without illustrations!’ The people were marvellous and Churchill would have been proud, though no thanks to the organisers- a less experienced speaker would have been gutted. He says he was exhausted but delighted because everyone enjoyed themselves and many bought the book (profits will go to appropriate charities) + he specially wanted to thank the excellent caretaker and Pauline House who organised the coffees.’

Should Book Promotion Events Be Free?

I am pleased to arrange book signing events and always enjoy meeting the people and chatting to them while they are buying or asking questions. Nevertheless, hiring prestige accommodation in central London is expensive, so should I consider charging a fee in return for listening to interesting speakers in sumptuous surroundings and me signing copies at a reduced price? My budget is tight because the profits will go to the appropriate charities and I am keen to promote website and personal sales because people like signed copies and it’s much more profit for the charities instead of Amazon etc. Any comments will be appreciated.