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…

Per ardua ad…

After eight years in the job, I stood down in December as Chair of the Herne Hill Society. Hardly world-shattering news, I realise. It seemed a good time to step aside and let someone else have a go - if I could find someone to take it on (which I did, eventually). Membership is increasing,…

Looking around for good news

Have you given up looking for reasons to be cheerful? Understandable. Nine months after the first lockdown, coronavirus infection rates are higher than ever. There are over 32,000 people with Covid-19 in UK hospitals. More than 83,000 have died. There have been over three million cases. With many more to come for sure. But now…

Girl on the Tube

Having lived in Wirral and Oxford until I was 22, I'd but 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,…

Wheeling the oils

Here's a middle-class, 21st-century question. Where do you get your olive oil from? I am more than old enough to remember when the answer was almost invariably "Boot's". Olive oil in tiny Crosse & Blackwell bottles were sold in pharmacies for unblocking your ears. That was the only place I encountered olive oil until I…

Chucking away books

It's really not something I like to do. Everything I've ever been or done revolts against the idea. It is like throwing away food: it's just plain wrong (and another thing I almost never do). But we have far too many, and at 65 I have come to recognise that most will never be read…

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…

Keeping your pecker up

It’s a fortnight since I wrote my last blog on - you guessed it - Coronavirus, which certain persons close to home suggested was alarmist, depressing, over-reactive etc. But it wasn’t hard to guess that where Italy led we would follow - even if we are a few paces behind. If I sound like a…

Avoid it like the plague

Last week I visited Arrowe Park Hospital (A.K.A. Coronavirus Central) with my father, who'd been sent for an X-ray. Our visit was enlivened by the sighting of a rat making its way swiftly and confidently along the corridor. Eventually the poor wee thing was cornered and forced to surrender to overwhelming force, i.e. a woman…