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The faultless MSM strikes again

My friend Russ Willey has written the London Gazetteer, a brilliant book which explores all of the lesser known nooks and crannies of this city. Russ is a life-long obsessive about ‘Hidden London‘, and if ever someone was born to write a book like this, he was.

On October 12, Will Self wrote the following in his Evening Standard column:

IT IS with sadness that I censure the London Gazetteer. This handylooking tome was sent to me by its publisher, Chambers. It claims to be “An A-Z guide to the famous and hidden quarters of Britain’s capital”. However, the very first quarter I looked up, Tokyngton, wasn’t in it.

I myself have never actually been to Tokyngton but I’ve often noted its peculiar name while perusing my bog-ordinary A-Z map. Now it’s been so unjustly neglected by Chambers I feel an almost insuperable urge to travel to what a website describes as “the most populated part of Harrow”, albeit in the medieval era. The “farm of the sons of Toca” was first mentioned in 1171, so it seems rather shabby that it doesn’t make it into Chambers’s Gazetteer 900-odd years later.

Except that, er, Tokyngton is actually right there in the book, and fills nearly half a page between the entries for Three Mills and Tollington. Perhaps Will Self is alphabetically-challenged, but you would think he and an editor would have double-checked this claim before slamming a book whose success depends on being viewed as comprehensive and authoritative. Having had the error pointed out, no correction has been issued by Self or the Evening Standard.

Sadly, it is not likely that as many people will read any correction as have read the original, prominent damning column – even if Self does the right thing and makes the correction in his next column.

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