I got the red-eye Eurostar to London this morning for a family gathering. London is my home town and I know parts of it like the back of my hand. It was cold and misty – Dickensian weather – and with hours to kill I set off happily on a wander through Bloomsbury and Holborn, where many Westlake ghosts lurk. The Lamb in Lamb’s Conduit Street; the favourite watering hole of one of my great grandfathers. The Cittie of Yorke on High Holborn, where my paternal grandmother would warm her toes at the open fire. Brookes Court, and the space where my late father’s childhood tenement house had stood (destroyed by a landmine). St Alban’s next door, where he went to church. (I am often struck by the intimate proximity of Gray’s Inn, a bastion of great privilege and literally next door to what were, at the time, some of London’s poorest neighbourhoods). Southampton Row and the old tram tunnels (now used as car parks). My father remembered the thrill as a small boy of descending into the dark. And I also walked past Great Ormond Street hospital for sick children and entered the courtyard where the main entrance used to be (picture). I could still walk from Euston station to that spot with my eyes closed. Here, in 1971, during six of the worst months of my life, my younger brother lay in a coma and died. Since his three brothers all went to university and did well in their lives I often wonder what might have been. I could still point out what room he was in (fourth floor, fourth window from the right). Later, I walked down to the Strand, up through Convent Garden, and out into Charing Cross Road, where I trawled the second-hand book shops just as I had done for so many hours as a teenager. I just had time left to go the National Portrait Gallery, one of London’s many jewels. There are all sorts of wonders here, but one of my favourites is Sam Walsh’s 1964 ‘Mike’s brother’. The Mike in question was Mike McCartney, and the brother in question was Paul. Afterwards, I nipped out through Charing Cross Station to the Thames (you can’t come to London and not see the Thames), and then it was out on the Northern Line to Highgate. What a city!