Great Britain

Southern Jessies: Try Going North!

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A grim statistic surfaced in the press this week; for every 12 new jobs created in the South, there’s 1 job lost in the North of England. This is after a much-fanfared promise of devolution to city regions which proved such a hot topic in national and local government, when chancellor George Osborne set out […]

The Vulgarians Are Amongst Us

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A couple of days ago a chap called Matt posted a comment on the piece about headphones which struck a chord with me. He pointed out that my idea of mid-range items and his were the line between Haves and Have-Nots, which is an ever more pertinent topic of discussion here in London where the […]

Why London Architects Will Hate Prince Charles Even More

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Prince Charles is not a man many urbanites would naturally agree with. For the past 30 years or so he has been discredited, dismissed and derided – from his ill-advised phone comments hacked by the press to various New Age whimsies and his ‘monstrous carbuncle’ comments on the Tate Gallery extension. But in the current […]

The Steady Rise (Easy, Grandma!) Of The Adult Panto

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Wordsmiths love the panto season although I’ve not been since I was about nine years old, but friends are nagging me into attending this year, partly because there seem to be more of them than ever, and many are getting very good reviews. I’m not thrilled about sitting amongst a thousand seat-wetting anklebiters and being […]

The Past Is A Safer Country

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What has the above object got to do with the subject under discussion today? It’s a blanket currently on sale at the London Transport Museum, and its pattern is the printed design of Routemaster bus seat material. If you’re a Londoner you’ve probably seen it your whole life and not registered it, except that it […]

‘Coming Over Here, Revitalising Our Culture…’

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The Swiss just held a referendum on whether to curb immigration to just 0.2% of the population, bringing it down from 80,000 to 16,000 people a year. Let’s face it, they’ve never been team players, have they? But this time they voted against the curb – a good thing in my book. Perhaps they thought, […]

The Enigmatic Codes

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I’ve always felt an odd connection to the Alan Turing story, mainly because of my father. As a young man he was employed in an experimental research group to try to understand the structure of strengthened glass, to make it and then find a way to seal wiring inside. Valves and wiring were too clumsy and […]

Food From Hell

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Notice anything weird about this burger? (Answer at the end of the column)   Gold-Coated Cockerel, Anyone? My mother has no taste. I mean that literally; she’s 90 and says she can’t taste anything unless it’s incredibly sweet. It’s a medical fact that we veer to sweet from savoury in old age. I was thinking […]

The Witches Of Knole

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My mother lives very close to 600 year-old Knole House in Sevenoaks, Kent, and on a sunny day we visit the house. Knole is vast, complex and full of hidden treasures. Originally an Archbishop’s palace, the house passed through royal hands to the Sackville family – Knole’s inhabitants from 1603 to today. There are paintings by Reynolds, Gainsborough and Van Dyck, 17th-century […]

England’s Asylums

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When I was a child we went to visit a friend of my mother’s in Holloway Sanatorium, near Virginia Water in Surrey. I remember long, wide airy rooms overlooking rolling grasslands and a few patients dotted about, very docile and silent. What I don’t think I saw was its astonishingly colourful interior (as shown on […]