Turning Tides

13 03 2011

The legends of ancient kings and queens often appear to be quite removed from reality. It is tempting to forget that these great stories feature real people – who lived, breathed, blew their noses and didn’t like spinach.   One such figure is King Canute, who was for a time styled “King of all England and Denmark, and of the Norwegians and of some of the Swedes.” Clearly, not a man any history book should pass over without some mention.   What is striking about the legend of this man is that popular culture remembers none of his great achievements, Read the rest of this entry »





Kneeling Down

19 09 2010

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It is said to be the oldest profession in the world. This is a phrase that has always lacked, for me, a certain legitimacy. Presumably there are other forms of human employment which pre-date the exchange of sex for material gain. The provision of food, say? Or perhaps protection. Then again, Read the rest of this entry »





Counting Down

28 10 2009

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Tony Blair is to become the first President of the European Union. At least, that’s what we’re told by people who claim to know these things. Equally, other people, who curiously also claim to know these things, insist that Tony Blair could not possibly become the first President of the European Union. Read the rest of this entry »





Being Ordinary

18 10 2009

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Moving to a new city is probably one of the most exciting things a twenty-two year old can do. The financial burden is relatively insignificant, and there are a thousand and one new things to experience and explore. Consequently, I must offer an apology to regular listeners, if any, who have missed these letters in recent weeks. It turns out I cannot promise to produce every week, but I hope you will excuse me when I fail. Read the rest of this entry »





Dreaming Dreams

30 08 2009

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I have never met Winnie the Pooh. However, I have met somebody who once met Christopher Robin, a close companion of Winnie the Pooh. Consequently I often tell people that when they are shaking my hand, they are shaking a hand that has shaken a hand that has shaken the hand that once held the paw of Winnie the Pooh. Unfortunately nobody ever seems to get quite as excited as me when I tell them. Read the rest of this entry »





Opening Doors

20 08 2009

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The second week of August is generally regarded to be the highpoint of what has come to be known as the ‘silly season’. That is the period of a several weeks when all the newsmakers – the politicians, the criminals, the celebrities, the actors, the protesters, the campaigners, the fellows at the national office of statistics – and, of course, those of us who consume the news: all of us are on holiday. Consequently there is precious little news to be found. Read the rest of this entry »





Singing Along

2 08 2009

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Some of the more attentive listeners to this letter will be aware that I moved out of Nicholas Street some weeks ago. In fact, strictly speaking, you are currently listening to ‘A View From Parham Road, in Canterbury’. Some correspondents have asked what I plan to do about this inconsistency. Read the rest of this entry »