Great Britain

My English Is Not Your English

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As proof that the English language is always changing, in the British Library, the Evolving English WordBank now contains 1,500 contributions to date, many of which are dialect words. This is a system that records new words or old dialect ones from the public, but it turns out that some in current use have a […]

The Leekfrith Torcs

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A pair of detectorists gave up their hobby after repeatedly returning empty-handed, then, two decades after they had tried to find treasure in a field in Staffordshire, they came across  four Iron Age gold torcs; three collars and a bracelet-sized piece, including two made of twisted gold wire, two with trumpet shaped finials and one with […]

Meet The Neo-Victorians

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In order to research my next novel, I’m having to recall a time I don’t remember. It’s set in September 1969 at the end of flower power and freedom, when Charles Manson was stealing headlines from the first man on the moon. I was at school and out of the loop for the whole Swinging […]

Stories Set In Country Houses

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The 2018 Bryant & May novel will be set in a country house, as I thought it was high time I gave Agatha Christie a bit of a going over. Adrian Tinniswood’s excellent book ‘The Long Weekend’, on life between the wars in the English country house was a big help here, because he describes […]

Another Part of Britain Plans To Split

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They could be anywhere this winter, these fifth columnists. You have to remember that they look like us, all warm and liberal in their patterned ‘hygge’ woollen gloves and trendy sneakers, until you find out that they voted Brexit. Or worse. At a dinner party the other night we were told of friends whose children […]

A Merry Christmas To All My Readers

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Here’s more Christmas cheer for you from today’s papers. Some of it may be apocryphal, ie. from the Daily Telegraph. London is on high alert for a terror attack. I live 500 yards from its epicentre. Apparently there’s ‘Christmas weather travel chaos’ as storms batter Britain. Not in London. Of course we can’t get anywhere […]

Hygge 3: Victorian-Style

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It’s been said that when future generations look back at this time the British will still be considered Victorians rather than New Elizabethans, as we were called at school. It’s not hard to see why. Elizabeth II’s monarchy has had very little connection with the political parties compared to Victoria’s. The majority of our city […]

Hygge 1: What’s the British Equivalent?

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You can’t get away from hygge in the London bubble; it’s in shops, in books, at dinner parties, everywhere at once. If you’ve experienced hygge you’ll know it’s a simple pleasure. For those who’ve been living away from the chattering classes this winter, hygge is a Danish word describing a feeling or mood that comes from enjoying […]

Corbynisation: A Classic British Conundrum

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In Europe, councils like to encourage everyone from kids to seniors to go out and get a bit of fresh air, so they build outdoor gyms and seating all over the place. There are benches and tables everywhere, used by everyone. If a few drunks settle on them it’s no big deal. Things don’t quite […]

How A Sweet Story Turned Sour

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One thing every child growing up in Britain knows is that it makes very good chocolate. It wasn’t something we ever thought about as kids. Rowntree’s, Fry’s and Cadbury’s all made great confectionary. I certainly never noticed its quality until I tasted a Hershey bar, which was revolting, like rubber. There was a reason for […]