Great Britain

Things To Make & Do


Never begin a sentence ‘When I was young…’ and never continue with; ‘we made our own amusement.’ However, when I was young we made our own amusement, from which something fell out of the Jamboree Bag of my mind; giveaways in British comics, one of which was a piece of cardboard folded from corner to […]

Does It Matter That Rhyming Slang Is Brown Bread?

Dick van Dyke as Bert the chimney sweep in Mary Poppins

To any Englishman over 40 years of age, a curry can still a ruby and a suit a whistle (it’s male-centric), but apparently the Youngs have killed off rhyming slang, despite the invention of many colourful additions to the street slang – remember Brian Clough, Bobby Moore, Pete Tong and Gary Glitter? ¬†According to new […]

Another Library Reveals Its Treasures Online


Museums and libraries can rarely display much of their collections, so they rotate exhibits or lend them out, but now all over the world they’re putting them online. The latest is the Bodleian Museum in Oxford. This summer I was there for an exhibition of Gilroy drawings, and in one gallery they have Roman statues […]

Goodbye To One Of The Great Northern Humorists


David Nobbs, the author and comedy writer who created the Reginald Perrin books, has died aged 80. Nobbs worked on many leading British comedy shows including That Was The Week That Was, The Frost Report and The Two Ronnies. It was typical that he should dedicate a novel to the county of Hereford. Here is […]

Reinventing England


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’


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


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

Margate poster

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

London without light

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


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 […]