Our novel Safe From Harm features a number of North London landmarks, including this rather striking obelisk/bollard that sits on the slope of Parliament Hill Fields below so-called Kite Hill. It is known locally as the Stone of Free Speech. Towards the end of the book Sam Wylde is meant to meet her MI5 contact there and says:


Just to the east of the bandstand on Parliament Hill Field is a white obelisk. Not very tall, it has no inscription on it whatsoever. Yet there it stands, a monument to.. something. I had heard it called The Pillar or Stone of Free Speech and it was mooted to be a gathering place for modern-day pagans. There were none of those about that I could see, but it made for a convenient landmark for a meeting with a spy. After all, aren’t they supposed to protecting free speech and the British way of life? Which included the right to call yourself a pagan without having a limb chopped off. Or your head.”

Several people have mentioned that, in fact, this is incorrect. Although many sources claim it is a 200 year-old rallying point for protestors against censorship or a cut-price Stonehenge for pagans/druids, the truth is more quotidian. It is a triangulation point for surveyors. There is also an MOD arrow on the base, which suggests it is a relatively recent addition to the Heath.

However, we did know this at the time of writing. It was just that we invoked what might be called The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance Principle: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

That black shape is Joe, our Cockapoo (included for scale).

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