A small plot hint via William Gibson's blog, where he has been answering questions from some William Gibson Board fans, which mentions a central London location in Zero History, which also featured in Pattern recognition and in Spook Country:
William Gibson blog - Thursday, April 08, 2010 - 8.27 AM
Q In Pattern Recognition, Cayce visits Neal's Yard, which seemingly fits her character profile and compliments the storyline for me, as I find it a wonderful little corner of our metropolis. But, why Neal's Yard? Did you pick it at random - a pin in the map, had a previous chance visit created an impression, or was it recommended to you as an appropriately bohemian locale for the leading lady to frequent.
A If you know the 60s history, it's a Disneylanded bohemia. Very amiably Disneylanded, but still. But I think I sent her there because I'd seen a sign, a few years earlier, announcing a Pilates studio. Oddly, Neals Yard (some people insist on spelling it that way) is also glimpsed, literally on the run, in Zero History. My first British publisher was Victor Gollancz, on the other side of Covent Garden, so I have fond memories of Seven Dials when it was still somewhat seedy. Paul Smith had set up in Floral Street but there was still a certain sub-Soho grit.
"Neal's Yard" or "Neals Yard" ?
The missing apostrophe in Neals Yard is not due to the road sign erected by the Local Council's highways department perhaps it is the influence of mobile phone SMS text messaging abbreviations.
However, there is a growing trend in the United Kingdom, whereby illiterate local council bureaucratic jobsworths decide to drop the apostrophe and other punctuation in street signs and on maps. This also affects many place names named after Saints, e.g. The Daily Telegraph newspaper illustrates this point in an article with photos of
ST.. PAUL'S SQUARE
which has mutated into
ST PAULS SQUARE
in the centre of the city of Birmingham.
St. Paul's Square in Birmingham with and without the apostrophe Photo: PA via the Daily Telegraph - Apostrophes abolished by council
Note also the abbreviation of "Saint" simply to "ST" rather than to "ST." or the more complicated abbreviation illustrated above.
Inevitably, being Britain, there is an Apostrophe Protection Society which opposes this trend.
If you look at these Google Street View images>, you can see that the old street signs at the Monmouth Street entrance to Neal's Yard
and at the Short's Gardens entrance (note another apostrophe)
both still display the apostrophe in Neal's Yard, as do all of the shops and shopping arcades nearby.
Running through or past Neal's Yard CCTV
Anybody running through or past Neal's Yard, as hinted at in the William Gibson blog post above, might be picked up on the Closed Circuit TeleVision (CCTV) surveillance cameras which cover both of these entrances.
There are further CCTV cameras within Neal''s Yard proper, which appear to be connected via infra red laser data links to the Thomas Neal shopping arcade on the other side of Short's Gardens.
See London CyberPunk Tourist Guide - Covent Garden - Neal's Yard
There is also a Blue Plaque dedicated to Monty Python, where the famous eccentric British comedy series / industry began its initial recordings:
The Short's Gardens entrance to Neal's Yard has a water clock sculpture. One shop to west, is the Neal's Yard Dairy Cheese Shop, which harks back to the original use of the premises.
This shop produces an overwhelming taste and smell sensation, with real "live" cheeses such as Cheddar and Stilton etc.. and is one of cyberpunk fiction author William Gibson's favourite shops in this area :
Friday, August 31, 2007
A SOVEREIGN FOR SOUL-DELAY
posted 5:03 AM
Yesterday morning I walked around the corner to Neils Yard Dairy and bought myself 200g. of the Montgomery's unpasteurized cheddar.
Asked for it by name. The clerk, in a proper cheeseman's cap, wrapped my interestingly discoloured wedge in that special white paper they use, glossy on the inside, folding it that way I can never quite master.
Now it's 5:23AM PST, back in Vancouver, and the Montgomery's cheddar really *is* a sovereign medicine for jet lag. And that is the reason it costs almost as much as heroin, in America.
Interestingly, now (20th August 2009), the offices above this Neil's Yard Dairy are being advertised as "Trendy Offices to Let"