Getting to Know You

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

We all have fat wallets nowadays, bulging not with cash but with innumerable pieces of plastic. These ‘cards’ have specific functions but they all start by validating the cardholder’s identity, usually by means of a particular number that is unique to us and which we are enjoined to learn by heart. Together with security cameras, […]

Keeping Out the Joneses

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

The word ‘neighbour’ dates from the days before the countryside was enclosed, when villagers farmed adjoining strips of common land. A neighbour then was ‘the man who tills the next piece of land to mine’. These days, you might define neighbour as the person most likely to turn your life into a living hell. And […]

Capital Gains

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

In January 1758, the publisher Robert Dodsley had a problem with one of the more promising poets on his list. For some inexplicable reason, his client affected to find life in the country more agreeable than life in London. In order to coax him back to a saner view, Dodsley set out the capital’s attractions: […]

Land of Swamps & Sorties

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

1066 and All That begins with Julius Caesar’s arrival in 55 BC and the woad-covered Britons’ heroic defence ‘under their dashing queen Woadicea’. The Roman conquest was ‘a Good Thing, since the Britons were only natives at that time’. The Romans built a wall to keep out the Picts, but then the legions left to […]

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