Bologna I: New Worlds

2011 – 2012 Did I already mention I did a year abroad? in Paris? It gets worse. I drank wine on terraces while watching the world go past. And ate steak-frites. I walked through Montmartre. At night. In the rain (probably, at some point). I didn’t smoke gauloises. And I’ll forever regret it. I sat…

‘Happy’ Birthday

25th March 2017 The European project was begun in earnest 60 years ago today. But the festivities today will be rather muted. As we march through London today, I hope it will be seen as a pro-EU demonstration but cannot ignore its antipathy to out governments apparent negotiating strategy. Let’s suffice today with a brain…

Conviviale

9th January 2017 I bought a raclette machine at uni after having the meal once in France. The meal, the machine and the cheese share a name: raclette. A swiss cheese; a machine with metal paddles in which you can melt slices of the former; and a self-assembled mound of potatoes and ham, covered in…

Torn to Pieces

23rd February 2017 I was reading an article the other day about faultlines across Europe. The most obvious from the papers is that of the nationalist, populist mood against the increasingly-derogatory term Europhile. This in-out, inclusive-exclusive divide reacts to the others.  In England, we want to “take back control” from Brussels but jealously resist devolving…

Ghosts of Seasons Past

I thought I’d try to get this in while it’s still kind of relevant. A little festive romp through Europe.  * December 2014 ‘Twas the night before the night before Christmas eve and my two Irish friends descended upon London. We crashed my mum’s “work party” (cocktails with her only employee, my stepdad) and went…

Terrorised

2001 After 9/11 and with many of our parents working in the centre of London, my school lifted its nascent ban on mobile phones. Our heavy, monochrome mobiles (mine still had an antenna) would be allowed on school premises, kept in our lockers, in case we were called upon to jam the networks attempting to…

Amours d’antan

I always knew this would be a tricky one to write. It’s hard to know where to begin. So for want of a better idea: * Many years ago… Although a big reader, I think I’ve always loved books (as objects) at least as much as their content. Seeing printed text in another language was…

Borderlands 

February 2015 On the trip that ended with me living in Granada, I passed through Strasbourg (a circuitous route). I was only there long enough to wash my clothes, see the beautiful old centre of Grande Île and have a couple of glasses of wine in the sun. It felt very safe, clean and full…

Lakes in Winter

November 2014 During the Brexit debate, boundaries blurred between Europe, Schengen, the Eurozone, and the EU (more than once, I was told that if we voted Remain, we would have to adopt the Euro). The referendum was a vote to leave the EU but it was also a statement about how the British people see…