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Culture vulture

Learning Italian for middle-aged dummies

I don’t own a copy of Italian for Dummies or the ambitiously titled Italian All-in-One For Dummies. If either of these books can fulfil the publisher’s claim of ‘Making Everything Easier’, then it might be time to take the plunge…. Continue Reading →

Italian in London and American in Paris

Last week, an Italian waitress in a London branch of Wagamama gave me some advice about learning her native language. “The grammar is hard,” she admitted, “but the vocabulary is easier than English”. As if to prove her point she… Continue Reading →

Billy Joel: boxing clever

Since I got a portable record player for Christmas 2016 I’ve been transported back to the music of my teenage years, when Billy Joel was my doe-eyed, bouffant-haired pop idol. I bought Billy Joel’s fifth album, The Stranger, soon after… Continue Reading →

Are you a 20th centuryist?

Have you ever exited Barbican tube station in London and felt awestruck at the sight of Chamberlin, Powell and Bon’s Barbican estate with its soaring towers and cantilevered balconies? Did you the join the chorus of disapproval at the removal of Eduardo… Continue Reading →

No news is good news in 2016

If we’re going to do our navel-gazing through the prism of the James Bond movies we really are in trouble. Well played, Ben Stokes. Just three days into this wind-blasted and waterlogged new year, the England all-rounder smashed 258 runs off 198… Continue Reading →

Back in Time for Christmas

I’ve never felt the need to keep up with the Kardashians, the Osbournes or even the Windsors, but Back in Time for Christmas was a timely reminder that the Robshaws are now the first family of reality TV. Earlier this… Continue Reading →

Peep Show returns

To judge by last night’s Channel 4 News interview, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown is as grumpy, lacking in social awareness and loath to say sorry as he was during his stormy tenure in No. 10 Downing Street. The same… Continue Reading →

Nespresso: instant self-satisfaction

The good old British cuppa has an image problem. According to recent reports, traditional tea drinking is in decline, as we succumb to the lure of green teas, tisanes and a bushel of fruity infusions. This would have baffled my… Continue Reading →

U is for utopian: Ladybird by design

Ladybird by Design has landed at the House of Illustration, near King’s Cross station in London. This scaled-down version of the exhibition from earlier this year at the De La Warr Pavilion, celebrates the centenary of the educational imprint that… Continue Reading →

Plastic fantastic!

I can never walk past a dandelion head without thinking how much I’d like to spray it with Elnett, encase it in plastic and preserve it for posterity. That’s because some of my happiest afternoons in the 70s were spent… Continue Reading →

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