Tweet Follow @PlanetSlade

Welcome to my world

Murder Ballads
Secret London

Paul Slade Hello. My name's Paul Slade, and I've been a journalist here in London since 1982. During that time, I've written for The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Guardian, The Times, The Observer, The Sunday Telegraph, The Independent on Sunday, The Sunday Times, Mojo, Fortean Times, The Idler, Time Out and a host of other publications. In 2005, I started making occasional documentaries for BBC Radio 4, covering subjects like a forgotten radio hoax of 1926 and the craze for "dirty blues" lyrics in pre-war America.

I've developed a taste for writing long essays, a form very few magazines will consider buying

Like any hack who's been working for that length of time, I've accumulated a fair number of pet projects over the years. These are subjects which I've become passionately interested in myself but which, for one reason or another, I've never managed to sell as a commercial proposition. It doesn't help matters that I've recently developed a taste for writing longer essays - running anywhere up to 15,000 words in length - which is a form very few modern magazines are prepared to consider.
Hence this website. Here you'll find my guide to some of the world's most fascinating Murder Ballads, a series of Secret London's forgotten mysteries and, in the section I've cunningly titled Miscellany, anything else I damn well feel like including. My aim is to combine the old-fashioned virtues of traditional journalism - proper research, clear writing and a habit of checking my facts - with the global distribution and ease of access which only the internet can provide. I hope you find something here to take your interest.

- Paul Slade, London, April 2009


Follow PlanetSlade on Twitter @PlanetSlade

PlanetSlade’s main Twitter account gives you announcements of all new additions to the site, a heads-up on significant aniversaries, capsule theatre reviews, tips on my cultural discoveries and anything I think might make people laugh. Join our merry band by clicking the button below.

Added in June 2014: Our best letters page yet

PlanetSlade’s latest letters page is packed with meaty goodness. But don’t take my word for it: just cast your eyes over the brief extracts below.

From Central Scotland
Streams of Crimson Blood was recorded using my homemade three-string bass, four-string licence plate guitar and a reggae drum track. The toast in the middle was added by my friend Cris Portillo.” – C#Merle dubs it up on one of his two new Gallows Ballads Project recordings.

From Portland, Oregon
“I’ve been reading a book called Wildmen, Wobblies and Whistle Punks by Brian Booth. It’s a collection of historical anecdotes about the Northwest [and] one of them is about the Homestead Murders.” – Blaine DeLancey shares details of a newly-discovered murder ballad.

From Whitby in Yorkshire.
“I managed to contact the family of the late Reg Smythe, and they gave their full backing to my resurrecting Skid and friends.” – John Gallon on his new book of lost Reg Smythe cartoons.

From Canterbury in Kent.
“Randall ended up doing some undercover work for the Admiralty during the First World War, which is where he crosses my radar.” – Nick Hiley updates us on one of the prizewinners from my Treasure Hunt Riots piece.

From St Louis, Missouri.
“Samuel Higgins was my 5th great-grandfather and his second wife Temperance Kelsey was my 5th great-grandmother. […] Your theories on Samuel and Temperance ‘cheating’ on James are just plain wrong.” – Joe Foster takes issue with my account of a 1779 murder in Killingworth, CT.

From Winnipeg, Canada.
“Singing ‘I stabbed her to the heart’ etc may have felt too much like sin. […] The perspective therefore shifts when it becomes too uncomfortable to continue in the first person.” – Mike Bodner (aka Uncle Sinner) sheds light on Pretty Polly’s pronoun-hopping narrator.

From Chelmsford, Massachusetts.
“Dagwood was originally an upper-class guy smitten by the flapper, Blondie. While he eventually won her heart, there was real social commentary going on, as well as some in-depth study of contemporary America.” – Ken D’Ambrosio defends Chic Young from the dismissive comments in my Andy Capp piece.

From Melbourne, Australia.
Andy was very popular in New Zealand (where we lived after emigrating from the UK in 72) but now, having lived in Australia for a long time, I’ve noticed just how unpopular he seems here. You ask almost anyone and they have never heard of the strip.” – Mike O’Brien on the frustrations of collecting Andy Capp books down under.

     You can read all these excellent letters in full – together with my often even longer replies – simply by clicking here.