Book Reviews

Do Not Pass Go: From the Old Kent Road to Mayfair by Tim Moore

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List Price: £9.99


Paperback: 352 Pages.

Published: 02 October 2003 by Vintage

Edition: New Ed

ISBN: 9780099433866

EAN: 9780099433866

Monopoly was, at least officially, invented during the 1930s by Charles Darrow, an unemployed boiler salesman from Germantown, Pennsylvania. (Darrow went to his grave, Moore notes, "stubbornly refusing to recall any contact with The Landlord Game, patented in 1904."). The original, and subsequent American versions, featured the streets of Atlantic City. The English, London edition first appeared in 1936, the same year as television and, apparently, the phrase "body odour". Produced by Waddingtons, a firm of Leeds printers, the actual streets and stations were haphazardly chosen by Victor Watson, the managing director, and his secretary, Marjorie Phillips, after a weekend jolly in the capital.

Armed with board, dice and a 1933 London directory, Moore soon finds himself beaten by a Brazilian transsexual at Kings Cross (where else?); searching for the "Ampersand of Death" on Oxford Street; discovering how Coventry Street made the grade; tracing the decline of proto-Starbucks Lyons in Piccadilly and, of course, eating jellied eels in the "poo brown" east end of Whitechapel.


3.0 Stars3.0 Stars3.0 Stars  by Anne

Light but entertaining

This book takes a light and amusing look at the history of London by examining the streets made famous by their inclusion on the board of Monopoly and by visiting them all and speaking to people who live or work there. Some of it is fascinating stuff but nothing is looked into in depth and the author quickly moves onto another topic. This can make it rather irritating at times but does mean that he covers lots of topics.

The author is somewhat impeded in the writing of this book by being unable (by reason of copyright) to use images of the actual Monopoly board (although there is a list of the street names used in the game). This means that you need, on one or two occasions, to remember how the board looks and how the streets relate to each other. It was perfectly achievable for someone like myself who has not played the game for many years but would make no sense at all if you had never seen a Monopoly board or had not been used to the London edition. A knowledge of central London or at least a familiarity with its main landmarks and institutions is also useful.

This is a book to dip into rather than study and it is amusing rather than laugh out loud funny but it is enjoyable nonetheless with some fascinating, if brief, nuggets of information.

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