New Twitter Header from London’s Chinatown: #3 Rupert Court

A new and presumably The Running Grave header popped up yesterday.  As usual, our friends at were quick to identify it as from London’s Rupert Court in the Soho area, near China Town. For fans of the TV series, it is the place where Robin laid flowers for Kara Wolfson.

What could it mean?  Possibilities abound.

  1. A hat-tip to Ron Weasley actor Rupert Grint?
  2. A connection to the mystery of the series, and particularly to the I Ching connection, given the location?
  3. As other Strike Fans on twitter have noted, the round sign on the right has the initials, “C & R” at the top.  The business itself is apparently a Malaysian restaurant.  Could one or both of our favorite detective duo take note of the suggestive letters if they pass by, or, better yet, stop for a bite to eat?
  4. Or, perhaps our heroes tail a suspect to the historic The Blue Posts pub?
  5. The business on the left is a reflexology establishment, a traditional Asian healing practice. Could we get an echo of Career of Evil’s visit to the Thai massage parlor, in search of a clue?  Although, with her two feet, Robin might be a more convincing client than Strike for this one.
  6. Though apparently upscale and respectable now, the area has a seedy history, with sex clubs and illegal gambling establishments predominating in the 1960’s.  Could some of these less-than savory establishments lingered into the 1970’s and have been part of Leda’s, as well as Kara’s, checkered past, perhaps even connecting somehow to the Norfolk commune?
  7. Or, if the TV clip was a preview/hint,  maybe this heralds a return of Kara Wolfson’s presumptive killers, the Ricci’s?

I’m going out on a limb and guessing reflexology, but any of those would be fun.  Or maybe we’ll just enjoy a few more helpings of takeaway Singapore noodles. In any case, here’s another potential stop on the Serious Strikers London tour.


  1. Dr. Freeman,

    A lot of interesting stuff to dig for here. What jumped out at me right away was that Rupert Court is located in London’s Soho district, and it was a 60s hot spot, like you say. Not just for the seedier “Suburb Sinners”, but also for a lot of the Psychedelic scene, as evidenced by the presence of the Beatles, among others. However, on a whim, I wondered if Dylan Thomas might have had anything to do with the place.

    A better of online searching reveals that the poet never got a chance to enjoy Soho’s Summer of Love, he often lingered nearby. One of his constant haunts was the Fitzroy Tavern, located just North of the Soho district. A short stroll is all it takes to get from Rupert Street to the district of Fitzrovia, where the Tavern is located. In addition, Thomas isn’t the only Soho connection centered near Soho. It tuns out George Orwell was also a regular at the Fitzroy. The information where I got all this can be found here:

    And here:

    In addition, Soho, is located in Westminster. This is also the location of Westminster Abbey, and the church happens to have a memorial to Thomas on its grounds.

    I’ve managed to find a site called “Dylan Thomas’s London. I’m going to close this comment off with a link to this webpage, which contains a list of all the poet’s UK haunts, including the Fitzroy and Westminster. I do on the off chance that maybe Strike and Robin have been walking in the poet’s steps more than any of us reader in the US are aware of. Hope this helps.

  2. David Llewellyn Dodds says


    Interesting – thanks!

    For what it is worth, Rupert Court is (Google Maps tell me) a three-minute walk from St. Anne’s, with which Dorothy L. Sayers became very actively involved. James Brabazon (who at some point came to work there himself in a secretarial capacity) writes, “Towards the end of 1942, the Rev. Patrick McLaughlin and the Rev. Gilbert Shaw had approached the Bishop of London to use the house as a sort of mission centre for thinking pagans” and that “Fr Shaw’s interests lay in the deeper regions of the spiritual life – the mysteries of ascetic practice, the life of prayer and meditation, the realms of white and black magic, and exorcism of evil spirits” adding “Gilbert Shaw contributed expert advice on […] the history of magic and sorcery when she came to tackle the place of the sorcerers in the eighth circle of the Inferno.” St. Anne’s Wikipedia article adds reference to “members such as […] Charles Williams, Agatha Christie, T. S. Eliot, Fr Max Petitpierre, Dom Gregory Dix, Arnold Bennett, C. S. Lewis and the churchwarden Rose Macaulay.” It also adds “the ‘Vestry of St Anne’s’ (now called the Parochial Church Council) has been active in social work with London’s poor and homeless (Kenneth Leech founded the charity Centrepoint in St. Anne’s House’s basement in December 1969 whilst he was assistant priest at St Anne’s and it remains based at the church).” There might be some Leda et al. ties-ins, here… I haven’t tried to see if anyone got Dylan Thomas involved… There is an interesting Dutch tie-in, with the late poet, hymnodist, playwright, translator (etc.) Guillaume van der Graft/Willem Barnard (who, for example, translated and put on one of William’s plays) – but that may be a far stretch for whatever JKR/RG is doing with Dutch dimensions…

  3. D.L. Dodds,

    Perhaps the thanks needs to go the other way. Once more, it seems, you provide the missing piece of the puzzle. The capsule history of St. Anne’s Church is fascinating for the level of Rowling related connections to be found in just one single location. If Thomas could be linked in some way to this site, , then perhaps it would at least signal some kind of thematic importance about the new Twitter header.

    So as it turns out, John Ackerman’s “A Dylan Thomas Companion: Life, Poetry, and Prose” gives us a potential link worth looking into. Ackerman devotes pages 107-109 to a brief, close reading of a poem entitled “Ceremony After a Fire Raid”. The work itself appears to be a published trial run for the later, and more famous, “Refusal to Morn the Death a Child by Fire, in London”. Much like the later verse work, “Fire Raid” displays “the familiar ‘birth-death’ conjunction (107)”. It’s in the paragraph dedicated to excavating the final lines of the poem where Ackerman gives us the clue we might want to look for.

    “In the last section the poet moves from grief and mourning to the final triumphant music, the organ ‘voluntary’. Clearly (the poem’s imagery, sic) etches war-time London’s skyline at night, whether bombed St. Paul’s luminous with searchlights or the poet’s view from his high office window in Golden Square, Soho, of ‘the blitzed church of St. Anne’s…the weathervane on the spire was still intact and glinted, a golden arrow in the sun’. It was here Dylan Thomas worked on such film scripts as “Our Country”; and here, too, he did his rooftop fire-watching. As in “Our Country” urban destruction (slum of fire’) is mingled with religious metaphor (‘the golden pavements laid in requiems’ – surely also a ‘Golden Square’ prompting!) and above all, images of natural energy and the glory of the cosmos. The earlier eucharistic imagery of the bread and wine is joined with the life-giving puissance of the sea, always one of Thomas’s key affirmations, and the Genesis story of the creation. In the controlled yet soaring ritualistic music of this final section the poet transfigures the pain and lamentation into a cosmic organ-roll of triumph (109)”.

    The contents of Ceremony After a Fire Raid” can be read here.

    For what it’s worth, the entirety of Thomas’s poem seems to bear a great deal of thematic resemblance and relation to, of all things, a song by one of the Beatles. Specifically, I’m thinking of George Harrison’s “Looking for My Life”.

    What it all conjures up for me is this very CW style image of a portion of the City where layers of time stacked one upon another. It’s a place where Dorothy Sayers and Williams performed religious plays, where C.S. Lewis might have given a lecture or two, while Agatha Christie perhaps helped out with the local church fete, and Dylan Thomas kept an eye out for the Luftwaffe in the skies above. All the while, George Harrison was busy joking it up in the street with his three band mates. It all hints at the idea of Soho as this important point between time and timelessness. It would therefore be interesting to see if a visit to this location gives Strike anything like a kind of mild sort “insight” or revelation that would give him a better sense of direction. After all, there’s another one looking for his own life. Thanks for helping to put clues together, professor.

  4. David Llewellyn Dodds says


    Thank you for all the things new to me – including this poem, this song, and the details of Thomas’s life!

    I don’t know much about George Harrison’s life, but the “Liverpool Blitz” Wikipedia article convinces me he would have known “the things exploded” (though probably mostly post-war, since he was two-and-a-half when it ended). Here, Liverpool’s “St Luke’s Church, more commonly known by locals as the bombed-out church” (according to its Wikipedia article) makes for an interesting comparison and contrast with St. Anne’s, Soho.

    I m afraid I do not have a detailed memory of Dorothy L. Sayers’ The Just Vengeance (1946), but wonder if it might also be interesting in these contexts, in its concern with “the moment of the death of an Airman shot down during the late war” whose “spirit finds itself drawn into the fellowship of his native city of Lichfield”.

  5. D.L. Dodds,

    Well, you won’t believe what I’ve been able to uncover. It seems the Beatles really did make an open acknowledgement of Dylan Thomas, and in what is perhaps their most iconic compositional work. Thomas has been staring back at us from the face of the Sgt. Pepper album all this time. For what it’s worth, I own an antique vinyl copy, and I never even knew he was there. I had to have that pointed out to me by Paul McCartney, on the Dylan Thomas Center website:

    “Dylan Thomas’ appearance on the cover was the choice of John Lennon. In The Beatles Anthology, Paul McCartney stated: “I am sure that the main influence on both [Bob] Dylan and John [Lennon] was Dylan Thomas. That’s why Bob’s not Bob Zimmerman – his real name. We all used to like Dylan Thomas. I read him a lot. I think that John started writing because of him”.

    As for plays like “The Just Vengeance”, I know now there are enough Rowling related elements in it to keep it as a possible source text for various items and themes that have appeared so far in the “Strike” series. Though if so, her handling of these elements is a lot more careful, defuse, and indirect. If the miraculous is waiting for her detective around a corner, “Mr. Galbraith” usually tends to keep its appearance so life size that it’s easy to miss without blinking, and even when it does contribute to the solving of a case, such as with the seemingly otherworldly Tarot cards of “Troubled Blood”, the writer makes sure to place this detail within the general scene, and then make sure not to call too much attention to it. It’s one of the cleverer slight of hands tricks I’ve seen played in this type of story. Though the truth remains that she is quiet where Sayers and Williams go full throttle.

    A good resource to check out in all this is an essay on this site about how Rowling utilizes the literary trope of Ghosts in her non-magical series.

    It’s easy, for instance, to imagine a version of “Troubled Blood” written by Charles Williams, and told from the spectral perspective of the murder victim, as she goes about follow the two new Baker Street Irregulars, trying to get their attention, or point them in the direction of clues that would help see that justice is done. In other words, familiar territory to anyone acquainted with CW’s work.

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