Ten Thoughts on Tourism

(This was written in 2005 after a post-retirement round-the-world tour. It was published on the Social Affairs Unit website and I am dragging it out of the archive a) because I still believe what it […]

Isola di Paradossi

The highlight of a month’s wandering round Europe this autumn was hearing Leo Nucci sing Rigoletto in the Teatro Massimo in Palermo. The duet with Gilda was so good it stopped the show: shouts of […]

The A-team Go Over the Wall

You do it once, you’ve done it once. You do it twice, you’ve got a tradition on your hands; things may be added to the tradition, but must not be subtracted. After last year’s excellent […]

At Last the Rising Sun

It took me to the age of seventy one to get to Japan. There had been projects and possibilities to go along the way, but all had fallen through and my major contacts with Japan […]

The Grand Tour and the European Union

       We just did the Grand Tour. Again! All the way from Royal Leamington Spa to the Ionian Sea and back, a little under four thousand miles. Whereas our ancestors (well, probably not literally our […]

Chalet Memories

 – the best thing about the chalet for me was as a 19-year old undergraduate (the first time) I met Old Members who were priests, barristers, civil servants, etc in very informal circumstances and learned […]

Going Soft on Communism in the Sun

        When a late change of destination had us heading for Cuba one of my daughters-in-law set up a spoof “Free Lincoln” campaign on social media in recognition of my robustly anti-Communist views. She […]

In Praise of the Homeland

       Two households: one moving home, the other fancying a couple of shows in London. Therefore we had four granddaughters in the house. Why not go away? – the car has seven seats, after all. […]

In the Lost Land of Middlesex

County of Middlesex: note that this essay does not concern itself with the county of that name in Connecticut, nor with those in Massachusetts, Virginia or Ontario. It is about Middlesex in England. Middlesex: “Land […]

Notes on the Cotswold Way

      I just finished walking the Cotswold Way with a friend, Neil Goodban. We did it on a day-by-day basis over slightly more than a year except for the last two sections which we did […]

Poor Little Orphan Austria

       We were sitting in a common room in 1968 worrying and commiserating with a visiting Czech academic as it appeared increasingly likely that the Soviet Union would intervene to oust the liberalising government of […]

Thoughts in Flanders Fields

       The Flemish town of Ieper (Ypres in French and “Wipers” to a generation of anglophone troops) is finally doing very well out of the war. There is hardly a hotel bedroom or restaurant table […]

The Sausage and I

       The Old Town in Bratislava could serve well as the set for one of those Eastern European towns in a Hammer film. Narrow streets nestle under the castle. In reality, they are full of […]

Jungle Thoughts

       The jungle is utterly convincing in its role as jungle: hot, damp, dense, sweaty. Monkeys gibber, something screeches, snakes slither. (The first two are definitely real, the third may be only in my imagination.) […]

So how did London become so good?

       In the five years I spent in Oxford in the 1960s I spent a good deal of time in London which was a 22 shilling return rail fare away. (The price must have varied, […]

The Irish Free Variable

       In 1967, having finished my final exams, I set off for an unashamed drinking expedition to Ireland with two friends in a VW Beetle. Reaching Dingle on the far side of the country and […]

Heaven and Hell in Campania

       Sitting at the back of the stand, watching the Coppa Davis, the view is roughly the same as that which can be seen on the paintings in all the restaurants of the city. Beyond […]

French Cooking: Now in the Dustbin of History?

       Every year I drive several thousands of miles across France and recently we have been shocked to find ourselves occasionally in a town without a restaurant. I shouldn’t be shocked because I grew up […]

Castles in Spain

       As Gibbon might have said: I breakfasted in the Alhambra, among the ruins of Moorish palaces and reflected . . . . But whereas Gibbon, you will recall, reflected in similar circumstances upon the […]