Thrill of The Chase

The BBC reminds us that the UK's first lockdown began a year ago today. At that point 364 people had died; now the total has reached 126,172. Over half the adult population has been vaccinated: an incredible achievement, many times better than what any other European country has achieved, and yet life has not returned…

Girl on the Tube

Having lived in Wirral and Oxford until I was 22, I'd rarely travelled on the Tube until I started working in Upminster. Even then, I travelled mostly by bus or I walked. It took me a while to work out where the lines were connected, how to avoid the interchanges with the longest walks, and…

The Little Escape

We finally made our way out of London on Bank Holiday Monday (how can you tell during a lockdown?) and drove south for an hour or so into Kent past Churchill's house, Chartwell. It was the first time either of us had ventured more than four miles from home for 10 weeks. It felt odd…

All over the place

How are you coping? If you feel you are coping, that is? As I noted to a friend, I veer between manic activity and shameful indolence on a daily basis.  At first, upon seeing my wife spend all day seated at the dining room table in one videoconference after another, I experienced a bout of…

Inside Story

Memories of 1980s Oxford, for the second time this month. In the same week in which I received an invitation to the Osma Centenary Symposium, Andrew informed me that he'd turned up a cassette tape from 1982 while looking (inevitably) for something else. He digitised it and emailed the result to Bernard and me. The…

Keep on strumming

I am an enthusiastic, if very limited, musician. I don't even think of myself as a musician - and neither does anyone else! I've never been able to read music properly, I've never had a lesson and I am certainly no virtuoso on any instrument. But music means a lot to me, and not just…

Rominations

Have you been to Romania? I thoroughly recommend that you take a look, speaking as someone who has spent all of five nights in that fascinating country (earlier this week, hence this blog comes to you a day late). We only stayed in Bucharest and Brașov: two cities that just about everybody on a short…

Second chance

How often do you fail at something important, and get a second chance? As previously recounted in Useless Information, when I was a postgrad at Queen’s, back in 1983, I was picked for the University Challenge team. I've always been a fan of the show and I was fortunate to (still) be at college when…