Great Britain

We Pay To Use The Roads – Should We Pay To See Art?


Remember the notorious V&A ad that said ‘An ace caff with quite a nice museum attached’? Last week I ran a piece on my dispiriting trip to the Maritime Museum in Greenwich, now little more than a children’s playground (including a fairground ‘simulator’ ride) with a few nice bits attached, and apparently – I can’t […]

How We See Ourselves


The story so far; freelance photographer Joel Goodman had a picture published on the Manchester Evening News website of New Year’s Eve revelries. It got picked up virally and flashed around the globe after someone spotted that it seemed rather like an old master, conforming to the Fibonacci Spiral or ‘Golden Ratio’, a pattern occurring […]

History’s Greatest Witness Gets Interactive


There’s that dread word again – interactive – and this time its victim is poor old Samuel Pepys. There’s a tendency to think of London’s great diarist as a dull man living in interesting times, but this is not actually the case. It’s the description of all those dinners that have left this impression, and […]

Maggie & Raymond Look At The Year Ahead


We have two guest columnists today: Raymond Kirkpatrick is a colleague of Arthur Bryant’s. The bear-like heavy metal-loving Professor of English is currently working at the British Library. Maggie Armitage is a Grand Order Grade IV White Witch of the Coven of St. James the Elder in London’s Kentish Town. In retrospect it was probably not a […]

The Greatest Robbery Of Them All

Great Train Robbery

The great Hatton Garden robbery captured the public imagination; the total stolen had a value of up to £200 million, and was called the largest burglary in English history. The heist was planned and carried out by four elderly men who were experienced thieves, all of whom were caught and pleaded guilty. But fifty years earlier […]

The Secret Histories Of Pubs


Arguably the oldest pub in Britain is in, of all places, Nottingham. ‘Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem’ is twelfth century and rather an oasis in the lawless party town. Its name clearly derives from the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, but other pubs have more obscure origins. The ability of pubs to reinvent themselves […]

Reading Beyond The Headlines


Recently a newspaper article which appeared in several national dailies caught my attention. The headline was; Tory MPs block bill to give first aid training to children by talking non-stop until debate ends There’s a knee-jerk reaction to the subject. After all, we don’t have a filibuster history in this country. But because the proposed law […]

The End Of A British Tradition?


Guy Fawkes was a member of a group of provincial English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605, a terrorist basically, one of a group of plotters who decided to blow up the government of King James I & VI, not because they were against government oppression; they wanted to be in charge. […]

Keeping Cities In Balance


The hardest thing for any incoming Mayor to do is finding a way to maintain a city’s quality of life. Cities need to be kept in balance between residence and tourism, environmental concerns and commerce. The two cities in which I live offer a stark contrast. In London, regulations that hamper Chinese tourism are  being […]

What’s Happening To British Food?


First Great Britain had a brilliant national cuisine utilising all of the colours and flavours of a country with four distinct seasons (and you could eat a swan). Then it was wrecked by two devastating wars and the arrival of bullying supermarkets. Americans teased us about our national food, forgetting that rationing rules shuttered restaurants […]