Tourists come to the UK for all sorts of reasons, one being its ‘Englishness’, something I only start to appreciate after returning from overseas. The cities are enjoyed for their vibrancy, the countryside for its beauty, but the coastal seaside resorts are largely sidestepped. Our seaside towns had a different history to their European counterparts. [...]
Okay, before we embark on this, I’m going to attempt to explain the British class system again.
At some point in every British gathering or dinner party the subject of class raises its head. It’s a complex, thorny issue, and a curious one. Roughly speaking, the nation is divided into three bands, working, middle and upper, [...]
Most of us are, I suppose, creatures of habit, and tend to sink back into quiet lives during times of recession and cold, but I’ve always felt that the British, in common with other temperate-to-cool Northern countries, treat home as their key habitat rather than the outside community as Mediterraneans do. A friend told me [...]
New Year’s Eve is the time to open that special bottle. Great Britain imports more champagne than anyone else in the world, but for the second year running sales are well down and continuing to fall. The French dug up over 40 villages to plant more champagne grapes when sales were booming, and are now [...]
Of all the things that take some explaining about British culture, one of the most complex and difficult is the traditional acceptance of drag. For as long as I can remember, men have dressed as women on national television, and have hosted family and kiddie TV shows. What’s always been unique about this strand of [...]
It must be Christmas, the press are forecasting ‘misery journeys’ and warning of gales and rainstorms, shops are offering ‘panic sales’ after poor forecasts, and everyone I know either has a virulent cold or has already left the country on an extended (two week) break that won’t return them to London until January 6th.
I’m in [...]
Since 2008, when I started running this pub punch-up of a site (as well as posting on Twitter, Goodreads and two separate Facebook pages, I’ll have you know) I’ve just realised that I’ve managed to clock up more than 3,000 separate pieces, usually posting at least one a day unless I’m travelling somewhere without technology, [...]
Remember the eighties? If you do, you’ll either recall a halcyon era awash with ‘Loadsa Money’, glass winebars and bad hair or a morally bankrupt time of tastelessness, selfishness and appalling greed. And for London, those times are clearly back again. Although this time around, there are a couple of new twists.
It’s no longer about [...]
I’ve been searching for a new title for my upcoming standalone abduction thriller, so I conducted some research on nursery rhymes. These seem to be surprisingly finite in number and variety, and are defaulted to by parents even though their topicality and meaning has long been lost. I learned, for example, that ‘Humpty-Dumpty’ was supposedly [...]
Welcome to England, where for some, it’s still 1935.
Queen Charlotte’s Ball was created so that the daughters of society’s old-money families could make their social debut. The event was introduced by King George III in 1780 as a way to celebrate his wife’s birthday. It was intended to help the ladies find a suitable husband.
Incredibly, it’s [...]