A good week

I received my first Covid jab on 28 January, so I was waiting to get a date for the follow-up. After hearing nothing for 10 weeks I cracked and rang my GP; only to be told, more or less, to sit tight and wait for the call that would soon come. A week later I'd…

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,…

VE Day *seventy years on…

This account of VE Day in Durham (*written in 2015) comes from my father-in-law, David Young. I knew as 1945 dawned that the end of the Second World War in Europe was nigh - so near, yet at times, so frustratingly far away. I knew because I was a nine-year-old boy and at that time…

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…

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…

The Good Old Days

I was 19 in 1974. The year began inauspiciously with the Three Day Week, power cuts, a miners’ strike and a General Election. It was a matter of debate whether Ted Heath’s government was really in power or just pretending. I can’t say it bothered me much, apart from when the pubs were shut. The…

War Memorial for Herne Hill

When did the First World Ear end? The answer is, it depends on where you were living or stationed. It was only when I started researching Herne Hill's casualties that I realised how many had died after 1918. Often it was as a result of disease, gassing or wounds sustained during 1914-18, but many were…

Freedom to travel

Watching the D-Day 75 Commemorations on TV has made me think, and not for the first time, how exceptionally fortunate I am, and how easy it is to take such good fortune for granted. It's obvious, when listening to British veterans of 6 June 1944 talking about their experiences, that they recall the events of…