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 [...]
Adult Literacy Table
8 Slovak Republic
11 Czech Republic
13 South Korea
16 United States
As usual with such listings, geographical, ethnic and density factors mitigate these results, with the most populous and economically migrant countries ranking lowest. Even so, there are [...]
Hurrah! The bible of God-awful places to live in Britain, ‘Crap Towns’, was produced by the creators of ‘Modern Toss’, and is now back for a second go-around in the latest volume, ‘Crap Towns Returns’. Shockingly in at Number One is London, for its hopeless late night transport system consisting of minicabs, rickshaws and night [...]
Lately the conversation around me has been obsessed with the subject. Punishing days, psychotic bosses, unfeasible targets, sleepless nights, zero hour contracts, stress-related illnesses, hours far exceeding statutory regs…welcome to the world of the middle-class sweatshops.
Our idea of bad working conditions used to extend to the image of 10 year-olds with bleeding hands making carpets [...]
One of the most appealing things about London has always been its quirkiness. It’s obvious that people love them; guidebooks gleefully point out all of the capitals oddities. But, like New York, in the last few years we’ve had Corporate domination up to the eyes and it has proven disastrous. I used to visit NYC [...]
This being the start of the Autmun book season, I’ll be doing several gigs around the country.
Feel free to come along to any of these events and say the usual things; ‘You’re much older than I thought you’d be,’ ‘I loved your first book – you were very good in those days,’ and the ever-popular [...]
Yes, it’s official. London, voted 55th best world city to live in, will now flog you student accommodation with no light or space or dignity for around 700 nicker a month. University College London’s new plastic squat around the corner from my front door just won the Carbuncle Cup, the annual national award for Britain’s [...]
Wristwatches. Cufflinks. Neckties. Tea-cosies. Newspaper critics.
What do they all have in common?
They’re all still available long after their original need to exist has vanished.
The future is never quite the future. Much of the past clings to it; retinal-display phones exist in the same world as letter-openers. For over 200 years newspapers provided us with essential [...]
Try not to burst out laughing when you look at the ‘vertical pier’ on the left.
Many British architects seem to operate in a vacuum that keeps them immune from public opinion. Buildings like London’s much-ridiculed Philishave (with its wind turbines that can’t face the wind) or the Shard (grotesquely disproportionate to its surroundings) get built for [...]