Two regions, alike in dignity. And united only in their hatred of one another.

When I moved to the south of England five years ago, I didn’t realise that it would soon become my mission not just to defend my homeland but to repeatedly explain exactly where it is. I hadn’t thought about the fact that the British voting map divides as much by the north-south line as our […]

The Ordinary Bus

I think there’s something weird hardwired in us that although we live in one, actually quite mundane, familiar, safe and comfortable place, the concept of travel (and especially travel to places that are markedly different from our home-place) is this kind of magical, mystical, otherworldly thing. Not when we’re actually undertaking it, of course, but […]

‘I hate sitting backwards on trains’, or, what happens when you muse about politics in a cable car

I hate sitting backwards on trains. I also hate going back to places. There’s probably a link there, no? Essentially I’m terrible at goodbyes, don’t like nostalgia and have this idea that once you have good memories of a place you should keep them and move on. And in complete contradiction to all of that, […]

Qu’ils mangent de la brioche!

A quick Google search assures me that the French use ‘être une bonne pâte’ (to be a good dough, more or less literally) as a vaguely colloquial equivalent of ‘a decent chap’ (or female equivalent, no doubt. But we know that I could spend hours of agonising over register and gender-neutrality, and actually I’m just […]

On war, Corbyn and other things. (An ode to the children of the early nineties.)

Listening to a podcast today on, of all things, the evolution of superhero films (don’t blame me, blame the French, who are capable of taking just about anything as a serious art form, and going into great detail about the psychoanalytical background to such texts), I was struck by a throwaway comment about how attitudes […]

I didn’t know I had to vote for some basic humanity

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-33257415 I don’t tend to read BBC news: it’s a bit wishy washy, the epitome of dumbing down, failing to ask searching questions (or, from the looks of it, any questions) and way too fond of the over-simplistic bullet pointed list. But although I can dismiss and despise The Sun and the Daily Mail from […]

Dusty, much? (or, Ali in the London…)

And so… I’m back! After not-really-a-year of hibernation/ enforced shutdown that came from the somewhat abrupt transition from a pretty relaxed existence by the seaside in Anglet (reading on the beach) to *shudder* the horror of being an Oxford Finalist. (If ever a word deserved a capital letter it was that one!) My creative juices […]

Where did all the flat vowels go?

I suppose it’s partly my own fault: it’s what happens when you spend too long doing pretentiously highbrow things like listening to Radio 4 and taking a vague interest in culture. Such activities are the preserve of those with family trees the length of the average oak, whose university education was cheaper than their primary […]

A class act

It was, in the nineties, suggested that Britain was moving towards a classless society. A few years ago I read an article in which the journalist set out to find someone who self-indentified as upper-class (even the landed aristocracy, it turns out, are ‘middle-class’, at least in their eyes). In 2013, the BBC announced that […]