Great Britain

Making Friends With The Apocalypse

My friend Dan decided to by a flat near us in Barcelona and told his wife to only look in the areas he had marked on the map. Why those areas? They were all a certain height above sea level. How we laughed at him. He was right, of course; Barcelona was extended into the […]

Doomsday! Apocalypse! A Postscript

While many of the palaces of the maharajahs survived in India, it has been more normal globally to wantonly destroy the artefacts of other faiths. British soldiers may have chiselled genitalia from non-Christian statuary and smashed up the old Chinese Summer Palace, but they did it while singing of doing good deeds in God’s name. […]

Doomsday! Apocalypse!

Did you ever have the feeling that you arrived too late in this world? The Britain into which I was born felt very much like the aftermath of cataclysmic events; post-war, end of empire, a nation with its glory days behind it. Today’s young must be feeling something similar, arriving when the climate is beyond […]

The Morning After

How do you commemorate the final result when you’re on the losing team? If the whole of London voted to remain in Europe (including, famously and on multiple occasions, Boris de Pfeffel Johnson) it was partly because we were the ones who travelled to and from Europe on a weekly basis, who worked alongside Europeans, […]

Upon Brexit Day

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile, This day shall gentle his condition; And gentlemen in England now a-bed Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here, And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks […]

British Eccentrics: Fannying About With Food

Fanny Cradock (real name Phyllis Nan Sortain ‘Primrose’ Pechey) was primarily a live performer. Her parents, Bijou and Archibald, were usually bankrupt so Fanny tried various menial jobs before entering the restaurant trade, hailing Escoffier as a saviour of British cookery  She and her monocle-wearing Major Johnny ran a Daily Telegraph column (where they probably appeared […]

Bah Humbug! The Modern Scrooge’s Christmas

There’s so much Christmas around here I could expectorate tinsel. Christmas used to be fun with granddad smoking rolling tobacco indoors and grandma swearing at him and Mum force-feeding everyone her strange homemade mince pies that tasted vaguely of cigarettes and Dad building train-sets that caught fire. Now they’re all dead, so Christmas is a […]

So, That Happened.

William Blake said ‘active evil is better than passive good’. He could not have asked for a better demonstration of his maxim last night. An election is usually about choosing the right candidate, not trying to avoid the wrong one. Boris Johnson, centrist, liar, racist, homophobe, fantasist, inconsistent in policies, evasive in interviews, awkward in […]

The British Bee Hive

I first became properly aware of this image when I saw it used as an enormous front-cloth in ‘Sweeney Todd’ on Broadway. George Cruikshank’s etching was designed in 1840 and was brought up to date by him in 1867. I’d like to have included a much larger image but it’s readily available online. The political […]

The Rich Will Always Be With Us

Exhibit A: The Honourable Member for the 18th Century, Jacob Rees-Mogg AKA The Haunted Chimney, about whom the writer Ian Trevett had this to say: ‘He is famed for filibustering, where MPs block bills by talking for long enough to block the progress of a bill. In his long speech to filibuster the Sustainable Livestock Bill, […]