Missing London town during lockdown: Memories of London (Edmondo De Amicis, 1873), An Excursion to the Poor Districts of London (Louis Laurent Simonin, 1862), Absolute Beginners (Colin MacInnes, 1959) and In Our Mad and Furious City (Guy Gunaratne, 2018)

Facebook threw a joyous memory my way the other day: a jaunt I made into London with an almost 7 month old Rufus in February 2018.  I took Ru to the blitzed-church-ruins-turned-into-public-garden of St Dunstan in the East, where his dad had proposed to me almost a year to the day before he was born,…

Nurture through nature: Eight Master Lessons of Nature by Gary Ferguson, Where Poppies Grow: The British Soldier, Nature, The Great War by John Lewis-Stemple, and The Invention of Clouds by Richard Hamblyn

‘We can’t go there. It’s full of drug dealers.’ Thus laboured my beloved’s worn refrain whenever I suggested we explore the mysterious woodland at the top of our road. It took a pandemic, and the dawning realisation that we had exhausted all other fruitful walks within a one-hour radius during the first lockdown, for the…

The Diary of a Georgian Shopkeeper by Thomas Turner (1754-1765)

It’s unclear why Thomas Turner (1729-1793) – shopkeeper, churchwarden and overseer to the Parish Vestry, aka a semi-Big Cheese – decided to keep a diary at the age of 25, and why he abandoned it upon marrying his second wife eleven years later. I wondered if he, in a brief 18th century equivalent (given Georgian…

The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth

In 21st century England, 70% of the land is still owned by less than 1% of the population; the second most unequal rate of land ownership on the planet, after Brazil.  It is questionable whether this would  be the case had the Normans not concentrated all of it in the hands of the King and…