Great Britain

Schrödinger’s Virus

Summer, distinguishable from spring by nomenclature only, gave us a better manifestation of philosophical pessimism than Schopenhauer ever came up with. And as it shrivelled and dribbled away it seemingly took with it Covid, which has largely vanished from British front pages even though the infection rates on our overcrowded little island are higher than almost […]

Clouds In My Head

Winter Is Icumen In After last year’s glorious summer there was a hope that this year Britain would enjoy the same, but to gamble on the weather is to have your hopes smashed. Here’s the Met office on why it felt like the British summer was flushed down the drain; ‘The perception of a summer […]

This Topic Is Dangerous

If you can shut out the world you can keep your prejudices intact. Thinking about my memoir ‘Paperboy’ there was a topic I meant to cover and did not include. It relates to the use of language and explains why any book or film depicting the past will always be wrong. It goes without saying […]

Slap Them, They’re French

    Last year an American academic accused me (very politely) of being racist. As someone forged in the multi-cultural stewpot of Central London you can imagine how this went down with me. But – sigh of relief – it turned out that she was talking about Arthur Bryant’s attitude to the French, so that’s […]

London Diary: None Of Us Are Going Quietly

Well, it’s been a pretty downbeat month, especially when I was informed a couple of weeks ago that my chemo didn’t take at all. Oddly the one part of the poisoning process that seemed to work perfectly well was the development of nasty side-effects, which have crippled me. The sole remaining option is a possible […]

No End of Empire

Britain’s empire legacy has left behind a complex tangle of traces, and you can still be wrong-footed as a guilty liberal. I was recently reprimanded by an Indian festival organiser after I carefully used ‘Kolkata’ instead of ‘Calcutta’. I’d assumed the anglicised version was simply outdated, as India has been free from colonial rule for more […]

The Opposite Of Darkness

I love early mornings because they offer the possibility of adventure. We are told that there are no adventures to be had right now, and that we live in testing times. Are we really? We live longer and better than anyone before us. This weekend I walked through Abney Park Cemetery, the maze-like burial ground […]

What Are You Doing Today?

Illogical Thinking One thing we know now about the apocalypse; the papers will continue to publish travel sections and restaurant reviews as if the world was normal. But our world is now a prison sentence with no appeal date set and too much time for introspection and reflection. Living in a flat, mine’s full of […]

What Did You Do In The Apocalypse?

I feel like one of those determined cellmates in a prison movie, the one who finds new ways of exercising in a tiny space and keeps peering at a shaft of sunlight falling through the bars. Except that there’s no sunlight. I’m not after a physical workout but a mental one. For those who just […]

Why We Remain A Divided Nation

How The Trent Became England’s Border  London is not Britain and Central London is not London; it has always been obvious to me that I lead a rarified life in the middle of what has now become the doughnut hole – London is empty at the centre, dense at the edges. The population is moving […]