Pipe down!

Nigella Lawson says that the thump of loud music now found in some of the most fashionable (and expensive) restaurants leaves her unable to taste her food. She says she is "allergic to all noise including music in shops and restaurants… It is utterly draining. And it drowns out the taste of food. I’ve always…

Arriving in León

Spain in 1975 was very different from England and quite different from what it has become today. I felt it, as much as saw it, as soon as I got off the plane. Of course it was hot and dusty. Policemen carried machine-guns, and there seemed to be a lot of them about. There were…

The Scholar and the Red Dragon

I've been at it again, No, really. I've been too busy sunning myself in France - and watching Anne slaving away in the garden - to have a well-considered, witty little blog to hand for the edification and entertainment of my readers (and thanks to both of you, for your unfailing support). But... Having finally…

Now I’m 64

“What popular song includes the following in its lyric: losing my hair, Valentine, birthday greetings, bottle of wine, 64 and Wight?” If you don’t know the answer, there’s really no hope for you. Would you Adam and Eve it? That day, for me, has finally dawned. Once you're south of 25 it becomes difficult to…

Messages from the Other Side

I hadn't seen Alison for quite a while but we had stayed in touch over the years. In was 1982 and she was back from Tokyo or Beirut or Damascus, or wherever. For someone who had to resit her A levels, she was heading for a distinguished academic career, which was more than I was.…

Moscow in the dark

October 1979: I was still, or again, (depending on which way you looked at it) studying at The Queen's College Oxford. The college offered me the exalted and ridiculous-sounding position of Vir Probatus (Junior Dean) if I abandoned the slum that was 41 Bullingdon Road and moved into James Stirling's (in)famous Florey Building on St…

Ageing rocker

I'd had enough of working for a living so I moved back to Oxford to be with my girlfriend Hilary. I joined Bernard's band, together with my old schoolmate Andrew and our fellow housemate Wiff and a young drummer from New College called Paul. Then we added a female singer, a posh-sounding blonde called Jo,…

Armistice Centenary

There will never be another Armistice Centenary. On Sunday 11 November 2018 at 11am - exactly 100 years after the guns fell silent and the slaughter stopped - local people and visitors gathered for a brief commemoration at our Sunday market. For more than 12 months I've been leading a Heritage Lottery-funded project to identify all…