Notes on…

The oddest thing people are stockpiling? Hens

4 April 2020 9:00 am

Is there nothing people won’t panic-buy during this crisis? Having stripped shelves of food and toilet roll, shoppers are now…

How to work from home (according to Churchill, Einstein and Napoleon)

28 March 2020 9:00 am

Working from home has been on the rise for years. No one expected the latest surge to happen in the…

We’ve been told not to go to pubs – so why are they full?

21 March 2020 9:00 am

Pubs are fascinating at the moment. On the day that the Prime Minister advised us not to attend them, I…

No blues, just reds and whites: the Oxford vs Cambridge wine-tasting

14 March 2020 9:00 am

The cellar room is almost silent save for the sound of slurping and spitting and the odd gentle sigh. One…

Is there any better place for an EU-subsidised arts festival than Galway?

7 March 2020 9:00 am

I was still digesting my delicious breakfast (kippers, poached eggs and soda bread — all local) when the sad news…

‘Desolate, despairing and awful’: Britain’s uninhabitable island

29 February 2020 9:00 am

In 1978, an invitation was sent to some 200 members of Oxford’s Dangerous Sports Club, which simply read: ‘Tea, Rockall,…

How political is your bread board?

21 February 2020 10:00 pm

It’s not known which inspired Victorian first had the idea to take a chopping block and carve it into a…

The fight to save G. K. Chesterton’s home from demolition

15 February 2020 9:00 am

It’s a quiet Wednesday afternoon in Britain’s most expensive market town, and there’s a sense of foreboding in the air.…

Is Monopoly feminist?

7 February 2020 10:00 pm

I’ve been playing a lot of Monopoly recently. My son got his first grown-up set for Christmas and, even after…

Why does Big Ben bong on the radio before it does in real life?

1 February 2020 9:00 am

The debate over whether Big Ben should bong to mark Brexit isn’t the first time the famous bell has caused…

Will Kent conquer Champagne?

24 January 2020 10:00 pm

Driving home through Kent the other day, I was struck by how much the topography has changed. When I was…

What is the only London Underground station to share no letters with ‘mackerel’?

18 January 2020 9:00 am

Don’t worry, this isn’t a piece about fishing quotas. It’s about the word ‘mackerel’ itself. Specifically, the fact that St…

The faded charm of the Isle of Wight

11 January 2020 9:00 am

I was worried my first trip to the Isle of Wight might be too late. These days, a holiday island…

Away from the manger: the holy relics of Bethlehem

21 December 2019 9:00 am

‘No crib for a bed,’ says ‘Away in a Manger’ rather puzzlingly, since a crib is a manger. ‘No one…

Is St Edmund’s body buried beneath a Suffolk tennis court?

14 December 2019 9:00 am

Here in St Edmundsbury cathedral, a bunch of clerics and local bigwigs are preparing for a most unusual anniversary. Throughout…

The unwritten rules of sending Christmas cards

7 December 2019 9:00 am

No one sends Christmas cards any more. Except that I do, and you might, and a few other people do…

The big burly blokes who make infinitely precise pointe shoes by hand

30 November 2019 9:00 am

Pauline, Petrova or Posy? Which Fossil sister are you? Or, rather, which Fossil sister did you hope to be when…

Starling murmurations are a display more dazzling than fireworks

23 November 2019 9:00 am

It’s late afternoon in the car park of Workington Asda. A little crowd is gathering in one corner, most of…

The joy of rummaging through Gladstone’s annotated books

16 November 2019 9:00 am

Gladstone’s Library began as that most English of things: a great man’s visionary idea. William Gladstone, at the age of…

The war heroes of Northolt Airport

9 November 2019 9:00 am

At 6.50 p.m. on 31 August 1997 a plane touched down at Northolt Airport. It was a lamentable and dismal…

The unlikely beauty of urinals

2 November 2019 9:00 am

In 1966, just as he was becoming famous, Michael Caine met John Wayne. The Holly-wood veteran offered him some advice:…

The Grand Union Canal, a serene sanctuary amid the urban sprawl

26 October 2019 9:00 am

It was a Saturday afternoon in September, the end of summer, and I was feeling sorry for myself. I’d gone…

It’s not just hooligans – hipsters also love a football shirt

19 October 2019 9:00 am

When I was young, from about the age of nine to 13, I went through what my parents recall with…

The lessons I learned at my Oxford gaudy

12 October 2019 9:00 am

I went to a gaudy last weekend. Several British universities now host these splendid events; mine was at Worcester College,…

Small but perfectly formed: The Romney and Hythe Railway

5 October 2019 9:00 am

‘The smallest public railway in the world.’ So proclaims a faded poster at New Romney Station, the midpoint of the…