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…

Not fade away

I had a long one-on-one lunch and even longer conversation with a former colleague this week. The theme of memory, and loss thereof - personal, cultural and institutional - quickly emerged from our discussion of couple of recent incidents. He'd recently met, by chance, an old friend in a part of London he rarely visits…

La Brexoire

I didn't post in August - not once. Not because I am dead, or anything like that, but because I and my blog were on holiday in France (La Bréchoire, Charente) for the whole month... the whole blessed month! I was so busy doing nothing that I lost the will to blog. Once you stop…