If I had to choose a new national symbol for Britain, which happily I don’t, I think I should choose the orange and white-striped traffic cone. The other day I drove 120 miles to a town in the east of the country and there were road-works every ten miles on average. The journey took an hour longer than predicted in … [Read on]
The snow has fallen early in Bulgaria, weighing down heavily on the still leafy trees, lending them a mournful, crestfallen look, kind of bent double. The children want to go out to play in the first snow. I tell them they can look forward to another four months of this and that the novelty will soon wear off. Nevertheless they … [Read on]
After months of negotiation, prevarication and delay I am about to exchange contracts and move from a one bedroomed flat in London, where I have lived since 1996, to a small house, in a small town.
A couple of years ago I went to the doctor because I was afraid I had Alzheimer’s. Suddenly names, facts and bits of poetry I thought I knew were not there anymore. I reached for them automatically and found – nothing. It was alarming.My doctor, a young Indian woman, looked at me sceptically and fired off some questions. I was … [Read on]
I can really empathise when I see David Cameron’s deep pink face on the front pages, looking even more pained and constipated than usual. That is the face of someone facing the shock and misery of a tax bill which has come out of the blue and seems to have no
Loneliness is a terrible state, of course, but speaking personally I have suffered far more from human company than from the lack of it. Hell, as Sartre famously remarked, is other people; but such is the capacity of the human soul for contradiction that so too, in many cases, is the absence of other people. A recent article in the … [Read on]
After seven years in Sofia I realise that totalitarian regimes must have engendered a unique kind of thinking – or rather non-thinking. I’m not referring to Bulgarians born post-communism. Such people are invariably friendly and intellectually curious, especially once you tell them you’re British. Those over 50, on the other hand, don’t ask many questions. Their typical conversation is impersonal, … [Read on]
The earth is no more than a huge piece of cooling rock. Clinging to its surface like gossamer is the biosphere, a living breathing membrane in which billions of creatures, including ourselves, live. Compared with the size of the earth, it is no thicker than a coat of varnish on a door, but infinitely more fragile. Earth’s greatest enemy is … [Read on]