MEDIA: TALK OF THE TOWN - AN EXPERT'S VIEW. Gary Sharpen would like more articles on London, written by Londoners, in Talk of the Town

When I heard that The Independent on Sunday had launched a new London magazine, I assumed it would be another listings publication. This is the last thing we need. Time Out is already there for people who want to tell you what's going on in London, without actually doing any of it. The Evening Standard's Thursday supplement Metro Life, by contrast, is actually interesting and useful.

However, Talk of the Town, according to its editor, exists "to explore all aspects of London life and beyond, in fiction and non-fiction, reportage and essays, profiles and interviews".

All very appealing to a Londoner like me who loves the life and history of his city. And with this in mind, there were sections I liked a lot.

"A-Z" is a collection of wonderfully eccentric London snippets, such as the man who is publishing what he eavesdrops in the City (for example, "if you touch me again I'm calling mother") and quirky news, like Leytonstone, the birthplace of the cinematic genius Alfred Hitchcock, ironically losing its only filmhouse.

I also liked "A Writer at Large", in which the essayist explores how long it would take nature to reclaim London if its occupants were forced to flee in the terrifyingly topical event of a biological attack. Other sections, too, promise to be interesting in a trivia sort of way. "London Observed" plucks photos from the archive - in this case, a fascinating image of 19th-century Holborn, and "Secret London" which is, well, about secret London - here the charming Postman's Park.

There are some odd pieces, though, such as an article on the Mafia. The Mafia? And its author lives in Connecticut. Fascinating though it was, it had no relevance to London and, along with several other contributions, would have been more at home in a regular Sunday supplement (interestingly, it was written by a former employee of The Independent, who is now plugging her book Mafia Women).

The supplement's look is appealingly traditional and somewhat reminiscent of The New Yorker - if only the similarity went further - but it was good to see a lot of witty illustration.

As for the overall Independent on Sunday package, well, that was as dull as ever. So this magazine might be a bit of a bonus for existing readers but I can't see it bringing in many new ones. Meanwhile, the ads placed suggest it will attract theatres, galleries, etc.

Overall, I did enjoy it. But I'd like it to feel more exclusively about London or by Londoners (native or adopted), bulked up a little and made into a monthly publication in its own right.

Publisher: Independent News and Media

Frequency: Weekly supplement to The Independent on Sunday in the Carlton

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