Great Britain

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 I’d assumed the anglicised version was simply outdated, as India has been free from colonial rule for more […]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 […]

…And All The Other Places

Writing about London is always a pleasure, but I feel increasingly bad about not covering the rest of the country. Here, though, I am at a disadvantage. Nobody in the history of our family, barring my mother’s missing relatives, came from anywhere other than central London, so there were no trips to the family homes […]

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 […]