Great Britain

Baby Steps Toward Reality

Lockdown has left its mark on many of us. The famous Sunday Times verdict on JG Ballard was ‘He doesn’t care where he lives because he lives inside his head’. He invited his interviewers to conduct their sessions in the foyer of the Heathrow Hilton. A less conducive place for an intimate chat would be […]

I’m Going Up The Dog

  The pubs are open in Old London Town for the moment, and they’re very quiet – a joy for the drinker, a nightmare for the publican. Workers simply aren’t returning to their offices, and that means the central London mental health support services, of which pubs must be the biggest, don’t have their custom. Yet […]

Back To The Front

Yesterday I woke up unable to breathe. The doctor thought I’d caught COVID so I ended up in A&E. After I tested negative for the virus it was decided to look for something else. As the day wore on I underwent a battery of tests. Canulas were fitted, much blood was taken and a CT scan […]

A Right Royal Shopping Spree

HRH likes a tipple, and her choice of poison is of course her own mother’s ruin, gin. So it makes perfect sense that the Queen should start selling Buckingham Palace gin, described thusly on the label; ‘Lemon, verbena, hawthorn berries and mulberry leaves are among the 12 botanicals hand-picked for the gin in the Gardens […]

Life In The Slow Lane

Lockdown is clearly over in people’s minds. These are the lovely students of King’s Cross living on the BOMAD in sumptuous flats their folks will flip the second they’ve all finished their degrees in advanced macramé. They’re phantom residents as invisible to us as tourists. The stars of the Great Pause have been the enterprising […]

Shop ‘Til You Drop?

The command has come down from on high, against the advice of scientists. We must all rush back to Oxford Street, hurdling the partitions, one-way systems, guards and staff armed with antiseptic sprays to…er, browse for knick-knacks. My mother-in-law in Australia tells me they had near-riots when the shops reopened there, people fighting to get […]

The Lockdown Diaries 2

Excerpted from ‘Paperboy: A Memoir’ ‘My formative years were filled with orderly lassitude, like those of a soldier posted to a peaceful backwater. They were days of strawberry jam on white bread, the squeak of chalk in hushed classrooms, Hancock’s Half-Hour, cold mutton on Mondays, back-fence arguments, kicking about in the garden and walking alone […]

Unfashionable Pursuits: Can We revive Childhood Hobbies?

I wasn’t capable of building models without gluing my eyelids. Like many of my friends, I grew up without a television. My grandmother disapproved of shouting and running on a Sunday, and never bought a TV because she thought it would irradiate the brain and destroy the art of conversation. When she finally succumbed, she hung […]

Don’t Let Your Brain Die In Lockdown

On one level at least, lockdown has not been as awful as I’d imagined. Suddenly there’s time to focus and consider what’s important, and as Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis pointed out, it had nothing to do with courage or fortitude but decency and respect. The importance of things has reshuffled itself into a new order. […]

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 […]