Great Britain

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 […]

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 […]

Doomsday! Apocalypse! A Postscript

While many of the palaces of the maharajahs survived in India, it has been more normal globally to wantonly destroy the artefacts of other faiths. British soldiers may have chiselled genitalia from non-Christian statuary and smashed up the old Chinese Summer Palace, but they did it while singing of doing good deeds in God’s name. […]

Doomsday! Apocalypse!

Did you ever have the feeling that you arrived too late in this world? The Britain into which I was born felt very much like the aftermath of cataclysmic events; post-war, end of empire, a nation with its glory days behind it. Today’s young must be feeling something similar, arriving when the climate is beyond […]

The Morning After

How do you commemorate the final result when you’re on the losing team? If the whole of London voted to remain in Europe (including, famously and on multiple occasions, Boris de Pfeffel Johnson) it was partly because we were the ones who travelled to and from Europe on a weekly basis, who worked alongside Europeans, […]

Upon Brexit Day

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile, This day shall gentle his condition; And gentlemen in England now a-bed Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here, And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks […]

British Eccentrics: Fannying About With Food

Fanny Cradock (real name Phyllis Nan Sortain ‘Primrose’ Pechey) was primarily a live performer. Her parents, Bijou and Archibald, were usually bankrupt so Fanny tried various menial jobs before entering the restaurant trade, hailing Escoffier as a saviour of British cookery  She and her monocle-wearing Major Johnny ran a Daily Telegraph column (where they probably appeared […]