Two More Teas, Please


The last post clearly sparked something about the ritual of tea, so here are a few further points. As tea featured infamously in Britain’s past (from its key trading position in the Chinese Opium War, when we used it to enslave a populace, to the Boston Tea Party) it remained ubiquitous and cheap. When the […]

Only If You’re Having One


If the British are so obsessed with tea, why are there no hip teashops, only coffee bars? All sorts of theories abound. Coffees can be fancified with complex rituals, from the patterning of froth to the ordering of ‘soy decaf flat white with a side of hot milk and a twist’ variety. (I actually heard […]

I’m A Grown Up, Get Me Out Of Here!


Every morning I climb through the Harry Potter fans who queue to have their photographs taken standing beside a brick wall with a piece of luggage trolley sticking out of it (what is it that makes them all raise their left leg?) and swear never to cut through King’s Cross Station again. Every morning I […]

The Great Game Reaches An End-Game


When a group of deluded North Africans went on their Barcelona rampage, a friend of mine was working in her office nearby, and found herself trapped there. With no previous experience of such an event, she was profoundly shocked. Her reaction reminded me of the woman in the rubble of the Twin Towers beseeching; ‘Why […]

10 Fair-Play Murder Mystery Movies


I love lists. Laying in bed, forming lists is a great game – a more male than female one, perhaps? (you tell me) but one I can’t resist. Realising that our cupboards hold an awful lot of movies I’ve not watched for a long time, I got to wondering about the best mysteries I’ve seen. […]

This Time The Role Of Author Is Played By Me


When I wrote my memoir ‘Paperboy’ I wasn’t asked to read the book for the audiobook edition. Instead, a charming actor was employed to be me. One day he rang me at home to get an idea of my voice, but although he had a very nice Received Pronunciation tone he didn’t sound at all […]

Reader Poll: Collected Short Fiction


Recently I tried to collect all of the stories that Shirley Jackson wrote. It’s impossible to do so without getting overlaps. As a collector I find this very annoying. The complete short stories of JG Ballard are available in two volumes, but the stories of Daphne de Maurier are all over the shop and set […]

Unwanted, Unloved & Impractical: Why The Garden Bridge Was Doomed


It seemed a fairly uncontroversial project; a new pedestrian bridge across the Thames, heavily planted with trees and flowerbeds, but it came to symbolise the unequal spending in London compared to the rest of the country. Former mayor Boris Johnson’s plan to imitate the High Line in New York looked, like many of his ideas, […]

Too Early, Hywel…


Once Hywel Bennett was in cinemas everywhere, nearly always playing offbeat characters, from the McCartney-scored ‘The Family Way’, in which he is unable to consummate his marriage to Hayley Mills, to the Boultings’ ‘Twisted Nerve’, in which he portrayed Martin, a psychopath menacing er, Hayley Mills again. He also turned up in the superb TV […]

London Book Round Up


There’s been a marked slowdown in the publication of London books of late. Perhaps so much of the past has now been scrubbed away by new buildings that people aren’t interested in hearing about what once stood beneath tall glass boxes. Happily there are still pockets of fascination to be uncovered, and these books reflect […]