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…

At Your Service

It was a mixed fortnight with pleading and pride playing critical parts. Twice we needed major household repairs and twice we relied on favoured status for the work to be done with minimal delay. For installing a new gas boiler, it was my presumed frailty that added urgency; for replacing the leaking water main, the key…

All’s Well that Ends Well (2)

For my wife, Rohan and I, Scotland is very special. It is where Rohan’s father was born, where for years we spent family holidays and where, as a couple, we would hill-walk. It is also where we went for celebrations, which is why we were there last week. The plan was to spend a few…

“It’s the Bottle”

Henri was standing at the side of the road hitching a lift. Like me, he was heading for the neighbouring town of Pont L’Abbé; in all, the drive would take about ten minutes. These days I rarely give lifts to strangers but the sky was leaden, the forecast was for rain and he was alone;…

The Curious Contents of the Garden Shed

We spent the last two nights of our holiday on a Brittany island in a ‘converted farmhouse’ with its ‘landscaped garden’.  We arrived at the Bed and Brefast to find the front drive freshly raked, the beds on either side weed-free, and the plants within perfectly aligned. Janine welcomed us; she was relaxed, tanned, slim and smartly dressed. In…

The Piano Teacher

Well before our trip to St Petersburg (see ‘Family Ties’, ‘joecollier.blog’; 29 April 2018) we had decided that on one of our evenings we would go to a concert. After some negotiation, tickets were booked for a piano recital; my preference was that it should include work by Tchaikovsky. We soon learned that our concert…

Mr Fox takes a Break

Unlike Rome, which plays host to wolves, or the suburbs of Berlin, where the intruders are wild boar, my patch in south-west London boasts an urban fox. With his lush orange coat speckled with white and grey, George - or should it be Vivienne - is impressive and, in his demeanour, takes the description of…

Jumping for joy

Mauricio Pochettino is the Argentinian-born manager of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club ("the Spurs"). He is seen as hardworking, assured, focused, steely and staid, and also as one of the best managers in the Premier League. Towards the end of a recent match he suddenly ran full pelt down the touch line jumping high into the…

On the breadline

Autumn came a little early this year and one morning, well before sunrise, I was the solitary figure freezing outside our local bakery. I had been queuing for hours - well, more precisely 35 minutes - but had I arrived any later my mission could have been jeopardised. The story began some months beforehand when…