Great Britain

From Paradise To Purgatory


When the Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman described suburban Neasden as ‘the home of the gnome’ he didn’t mean it nicely. London’s Metropolitan Railway accidentally created suburbia. The term ‘Metroland’ was coined in 1915 and used to describe a band of countryside north-west of London, sold as a land of idyllic cottages and gardens. But […]

Daughters And Sons Of The Soil, Awake!


With property prices falling and import prices up, perhaps it’s time for careers in food once more. This week I visited three farmers’ markets in central London (Chapel Street, Marylebone and King’s Cross) and bought most of what we needed for the week, although it’s still hard to find fresh fish in a country entirely surrounded […]

UK Politics – The Box-Set


First it was like ‘House of Cards’, Machiavellian and duplicitous. Then it was like ‘Game of Thrones’, gory and epic. Soon it could become more like ‘The Walking Dead’.  This has been the most extraordinary week in British politics since 1945, but if we run the comparisons to box sets we’ll become more paranoid than […]

What Will Happen In Ye Olde Post-Brexit Englande?


The return of Bob Danvers Walker announcing things. ‘Great British Bake Off’ to feature at least one jam roly-poly every week. The words of Cliff Richard’s song revised to ‘We’re all going on a summer holiday until July 2016, after which we’ll be going to Bognor.’ Nigel Farridge plays own puppet on all-new Spitting Image. You […]

Killing The Black Dog

Black dog

  Writers are required to have a somewhat raised level of sensitivity. It’s in the job description. The upside is that it can massively improve the quality of your work. The downside is the Black Dog. It’s hard to explain depressive bouts to others. I once believed there was no such thing, and was on […]

O brave new world, That has such people in ’t.

Drunk in public

  Nothing funny today, I’m too depressed. As a trio of egotistical monsters kicks out the PM who undid 50 years of European protection and now prepare for power, the appalling realisation of what they’ve done is already starting to sink in. Gove looking after your kids’ education, Farridge kicking out anyone he doesn’t like […]

Final Thoughts On The EU Referendum

Schrank - ManWho

It’s not a legally binding decision but a matter of public debate. MPs can choose not to act. I might consider the Leave option more seriously if it didn’t feel as if a row about EU tariffs got hijacked by a coterie of careerists. I’m more swayed by direct evidence of damage caused by the […]

Something Lurking In The Hollyhocks…


The hollyhocks are a giveaway – it could only be an English country garden. The one at Charleston, Sussex, summer home of members of the Bloomsbury Group. It seems an unlikely place for a battle, but that’s what’s going on here. Because in order to get here we had to pass through many pretty villages […]

Weird Stuff The English Instinctively Know


The news is too depressing to contemplate today. Let’s cheer ourselves up by looking at the secret stuff  most British people know without even realising it. Here are the ten I’ve noticed. Feel free to add to the list… No matter how badly they did in maths, they can work out the speed and distance […]

Why Are US Newspapers Better Than Ours?


A writer at the Daily Mail once told me about her dream story for the paper; one that upsets and angers the reader in equal measure. The Mail is massively successful, selling an average of 1.5 million copies on weekdays, 2.4 million on Saturdays. Only the Sun sells more. Its readers include more from the top […]