Great Britain

Getting There Is Not Half The Fun

BR Chaos

This weekend I hosted a birthday dinner for 26 in Barcelona, which required a fair amount of logistical manoeuvring as there were people coming in from, and going to, cities all over Europe and further afield. The ones from Madrid and other parts of the EU had no problem at all; they used the AVE […]

Inventing Creepy-Crawlies

Stag Beetle (Lucanus cervus) male.

When I was a little boy, living near Greenwich Park in a suburban London street, we were surrounded by creepy-crawlies, the best being the prehistoric but weirdly adorable stag beetle. You could tie cotton to its legs and make it drag things. Then came daddy-long-legs (legses?), and you could pull all its legs off to […]

Could Brexit Win Over This Sceptic?

Herne Bay

Facts first. Every economist agrees that Brexit is starting to cost millions, possibly billions. The economy is slowing, house prices are falling, the pound is weaker, there’s no extra money for the NHS, no more EU grants for deprived areas, and we are inches from recession even prior to the triggering of Article 50. How does […]

The Legend of Jenny Green-Teeth


Duckweed is one of Britain’s most common small water plants. It forms a smooth green mat that covers bodies of still water. It has a simple body known as a thallus, which floats on the surface of the water, and a single root which hangs down. You find duckweed all over London’s canals in August, which might […]

12 Things British People Call Each Other


  Tosh 19th cent in the sense of ‘nonsense’, but its derivation as a nickname is less certain, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a diminutive of ‘kosher’, someone who scavenges in the sewers, especially in London during the Victorian era. The word ‘tosher’ was also used to describe the thieves who stripped copper from […]

Why The 70s Can Never Return

3 day week

Stay away from religion or politics, they say, but a swift canter through our national history never hurts, especially as I’m planning to write a period novel, so bear with me today. For anyone over 45 certain parallels between past and present are obvious, if less severe now. In the 1970s even the Chancellor of the […]

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 […]