Flying through Frankfurt

5th – 7th May 2017 The day before dinner with my Polish housemate, I had gone for a drink with two friends from uni. They have been together since our second year and will soon be married. After a fair few beers (and a more ‘miss’ than ‘hit’ stand up comedy show), they asked me to…

Fleeting Moments

Simenon’s work features some of the most searingly genuine and true characters I’ve ever found in a novel. They can often be bizarre and are never bland but I cannot think of any that aren’t strickingly human. In seven volumes, Proust explored jealous love. Time and time again, Simenon captured a jealous lover in a…

‘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…

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…

Far from Bavaria

3rd December 2016 There’s a tradition in London wherein Londoners spend December telling each other how great Winter Wonderland is and how you really must go. It is a huge funfair in Hyde Park that is Christmas-themed and rammed full of people. I really couldn’t see the attraction. Now, when it comes to Christmas markets,…

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…

The Journey Continues

13th November 2016 I intended this blog as an exhibition of all that is great in Europe. It increasingly feels like a record of Europe’s retreat.  On Sunday, Bulgaria elected an anti-migrant, pro-Russian president prompting the PM’s resignation the following day. At the same time, Moldova elected their own president on a campaign to reverse…

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…

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…