Through the Fourth Wall

If you enjoy the mystery of this site, if wondering where the borders between myth, fact and fiction are to be found is part of what you like about the posts, then this page is not for you.

Seriously, navigate away now.

Here, try these links:

The Woolwich Foot Tunnel really did close for refurbishment in 2010. But did construction workers report anything out of the ordinary?

Arsenic was used to fix colour in Victorian wallpapers, but do yet weirder elements lurk in the walls of Stoke Newington houses?

It’s true you can find forgotten, truncated fragments of an abandoned 70s ‘Pedway’ system dotted around the City of London. But is anything strange hidden among them?

So, here’s your last chance. If the above questions read more like teasers to you than requests for verification, if you’d like the answers to remain more or less ambiguous, then click here instead, to read PoL’s first ever post, and never return to this page.

Otherwise, welcome.

Good. Here it is, then.

Unfiltered.

From the horses mouth.

The facts:

THIS SITE IS FICTION

There will be readers of these posts who will greet that revelation with a resounding ‘well, duh’. There are others – one of whom very kindly once said as much on twitter – who may feel that the ‘fiction’ tag is irrelevant. That it is the long, layered history of people and places they touch on that is at the heart of these stories.

For my own part (and PoL is a ‘me’ – one person, inventing these stories), presenting the stories in the manner they are presented emerged partly as a framing device. As some have picked up on, there is an under-story, hints of a wider narrative, hidden parts of the picture. These elements are fiction also.

What has prompted the writing of this page after 20 months of posting is the recent featuring of some of our stories on a well-known podcast. The podcast deals with ‘Fortean’ type stories from around the world. But, unlike the Fortean Times, which – after investigating our blog – described PoL to its readers as ‘gently Borgean fiction’ (there’s a link here but you have to sign up to pressreader I think), the podcast presented the stories pretty much as straight. Which didn’t sit right with me.

But hang on. Wasn’t I presenting the stories pretty much as straight, too? True, there is a google-able interview in which I discuss the blog as fiction, but what if someone only got as far as this site? Or only as far as one post? “I reckon anyone would get it after reading two or three posts” no longer seemed like a good enough get-out.

So here we are.

This wasn’t an easy decision. The anonymity and ambiguity have been a fun and creative force – for me and, I gather, for many of PoL’s readers, too.

One day, I may write more about some of the blog’s influences. I could never list them all. The following is just for starters, a handful of names to help with this question of ‘where the blog is coming from’:

MR James, Susan Cooper, Alan Garner, Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino, Hookland, Simon Stalenhag, Scarfolk, Patrick Keiller, Ian Nairn.

MR James is key. I call these posts ghost stories. It’s true I forgot to put an actual ghost in most of them, but confusing ambiguity is what this site does. If you enjoy them, thank you. There’s plenty more to come, and lots more fun to be had with the PoL world. The kind words and inspiration from people on WordPress, Twitter, and Facebook really have kept the posts coming.

Thanks again,

Tom