This Land is Her Land

Dina could not be more of a Londoner. She was born and educated in the capital and now, as a thirty-two year old, it is where she lives and works. Added to this, most of her close family - mother, sisters, aunts and uncle - live only a short bus-ride away. Despite all this, she feels like a stranger.…

An Experiment with Music and Cheese

                  This story started with a note in which John invited me to hum to his cheeses. The invitation, which was delivered as a commentary to a recent blog - “London’s Singing Lift” (28 April 2019) - read: “An experiment has recently taken place in Switzerland where certain types of music played to cheeses…

My Father’s Image Reviewed and Revised

Changing ones mind can be difficult. In this instance it took more than thirty years to even review my position. A change quickly followed and the relief was immense. Over a few weeks I overturned an opinion that I had held about the qualities of my father as a parent which I had been propagating for years and which was both inaccurate…

London’s Singing Lift

There is an unwritten code of conduct for those riding in a lift. First: say nothing, and if you have to speak, keep your voice hushed. Second: avoid eye contact with fellow travellers; stare ahead or look down at the floor. With such solemnity, being in a lift is a dour affair. Well, usually! There is…

Brian – Ill, Resolute and Unbowed

Brian and I have lunch together each week when we can. We first met during French classes around ten years ago; he was my teacher. Our meals started soon after. Brian was sixty five, I was two years older and we clicked. Initially, conversation was limited - while his French was fluent, mine was still…

Alice’s Story

As soon as we had installed ourselves in Brittany for our spring stay, it was time to catch up with friends. After five months away there was plenty to talk about. We shared news about families, jobs and health, we learned the local gossip, and, inevitably we swapped views and insights about Brexit, the Gilets…

It’s For You, Professor Collier

Two memories of our visit to Nepal fifteen years ago stand out, one magical, the other unsettling. My wife, Rohan, and I were staying in the Himalayan foothills at a hotel just outside Nagarkot. I was there at a conference. The magic occurred on a clear day when, after an hour’s stroll, the view we sought suddenly appeared. Far…

Cutting Edge, Cutting Cost

For several days in mid-February I was obsessed with a particular aspect of geometry - thickness. First it was the thickness of a slice of bread, then that of an envelope. On both occasions the critical measure was five millimetres which, in imperial units is equivalent to just under two tenths of an inch. On the…

The Politics of Marmalade

For lovers of oranges, the last few weeks have been a delight. Although oranges can be bought all year round, it is the fresh, Spanish oranges that arrive in our shops from mid-January to mid-February that are special. It is always a surprise that a winter fruit can look so inviting and provide such compelling…

A Small Matter of Detail

Just up the path from our London home is a short, narrow, sleepy street with history. At one end is a fine, ten-house, Georgian terrace. At its centre are two houses dating from the late 1690s. At the other end there is less grandeur but nevertheless this has not stopped the street being listed as an area of special…