Skip to content

{ Category Archives } observations


When I was working on my doctorate, I reviewed thousands of documents: court records, wills, rent rolls, correspondence, petitions, tax records, censuses, parish registers, minutes of city or privy council meetings, and perhaps a dozen other types. In most cases, they offered only fleeting glimpses of the people who lived and worked and died in […]

Reflections on monetary union

“It is clear that such agreement will be limited in inverse proportion to the homogeneity and the similarity of outlook and tradition possessed by the inhabitants of the area. Although, in the national state, the submission to the will of a majority will be facilitated by the myth of nationality, it must be clear that […]

The Percy Arms: Great Percy Street, Clerkenwell, London WC1

This pub was renovated in 2009 and is now a single-family house.  

A jubilee year?

It’s HM The Queen’s diamond jubilee, but I wonder what would happen if we extended it to everyone… Over the weekend I read a review of a couple new books about debt in the LRB. The review itself is definitely worth a read, as does Debt: The First 5000 Years by David Graeber. Now I disagree […]

The Bromley Arms: Cleveland Street, Fitzrovia, London W1

pub tower mews 90

Reminder of the cultural value of the web

If you’re in Britain, you should definitely listen to this week’s episode of The Choir before the iPlayer version expires in a week. It’s called ‘The American Sardinians’: In January 2011 four Americans, under the name ‘Tenores de Aterue’, shared their home-grown passion for Sardinian singing with a video performance on YouTube. To their amazement […]

Stupid inflation

I was reading Ian Jack’s LRB  review of Ken Livingstone’s memoirs and this passage caught my eye: “Two years later [in 1972], the electors of Norwood voted him onto the Greater London Council. This gave him an income of £2,000 a year, which meant that he needed no other job”. What a difference 40 years, makes, […]

…on anniversaries

Ten years ago yesterday, I begin my first visit to England. It was my last year at university, and I came to visit my friend Lauren (who was studying abroad at UCL and living on Gray’s Inn Road) and my friend Allison (who was studying abroad at Girton College, Cambridge). To say that I enjoyed […]

What do I want for Valentine’s Day?

“Same as I want every day,” I say. “Six hours of uninterrupted reading, a large Charlie Bigham fish pie and a glass of prosecco the size of my head for dinner, world peace, last night’s Chelsea Lately on Sky+ and bed by nine. I don’t suppose I’m going to get any of those, though, am I?” Worth […]

…on returning from honeymoon

Sunday will be two weeks since Andrew and I got back from our extended time way. They have been two of the busiest weeks of my working life. On the plus side, that meant that I got to archive the 879 emails I missed while I was away without reading them. On the minus side, […]