Great Britain

Reinventing England

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Miguel Coyula, urban architect, has this to say about Cuba normalising its relations with America: ‘When you talk to people, and you ask them, Why are you visiting Havana? The common answer is, I want to see it now. … I want to see the real Havana. … So they share the fear that Havana […]

Crime Swamps ‘Britain’s Happiest Town’

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According to property agents, Harrogate in North Yorkshire is the UK’s happiest town, while nine out of 10 of the grimmest places to live are in London – but Harrogate, with its flower-filled park running through its centre, its famous tea rooms and spa, its affluent kitchen design shops, hides a dark secret. This Thursday […]

Seven Reasons To Prefer Glasgow

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It’s a great time of the year to go to Scotland – as an urbanite I never quite got their countryside, all that heather and brown grass (of course, I’ve never actually been through it, but I saw ‘Mrs Brown’). I liked Edinburgh well enough until I went to Glasgow and realised what I was […]

Kent Comes Back

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After years in an unloved wilderness, the county of Kent in Southern England is, it seems, coming back to life, but not in the way it once was. When I was a child it was known as the Garden of England, a hard-to-navigate county of winding roads, impossible-to-find villages and rivers that stood between London […]

Darkness Over England

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Recently there have been moves in Paris and New York to darken lights above certain floors in order to help migrating birds and to generally improve the quality of life in cities, but London and England show no sign of following suit. Residents of the North London area Dartmouth Park want to douse their lights, […]

Odd London Objects: Legal & Non-Legal Tender

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Strangely enough these aren’t so terribly rare; this unlovely example recently sold on the London Peculiar website here, which sells London oddities. It’s a Carausius Roman Bronze coin minted between AD287-293, and they sometimes turn up at building sites in the city (Londonium was ranged further East back then). These days the Royal Mint makes […]

Back To A Small ‘C’ Britain

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Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we’re a little Northern country that financially punches above its weight, combining sophistication with brutish selfishness, and in uncertain times we timidly retreat to a level of safety. Last night we did it again; after six weeks of campaigning that might have stood for the very model of democracy […]

The European Country I Know Least

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When I lived in America I at least got to travel a bit and see some cool places – not a lot because I was running my own company and the US legal holiday entitlement is among the lowest in the world (along with Chinese and Canadian). My regret is that I haven’t been to […]

The Disastrous Life Of Jeremy Thorpe

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Hardly any of my friends remember what happened to Jeremy Thorpe, one of those peculiarly English stories filled with awful details – so I decided to read up on it. I first made the mistake of reading Auberon Waugh’s ‘The Last Word: An Eye Witness Account of the Thorpe Trial’, but Waugh was never a […]

Making Money From The Arts

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  In today’s Guardian Suzanne Moore points out that the role of an arts college has been quietly changing behind our backs. 80 students have been occupying Central Saint Martin’s, which is planning to ditch 580 foundation course places. These are the one-year courses which are all that now remain of the free art school […]