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London

John Betjeman Photo: Getty

A.N. Wilson's diary: The book that made me a writer – and the pushchair that made me an old git

23 August 2014

Like many inward-looking children, I always doodled stories and poems. Knowing one wanted to be a writer is a different matter altogether. That moment came when I read Lytton Strachey’s… Read more

Workers carry out cleaning and maintenance work on the clock face of Big Ben in 2007 (Photo: CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images)

Who cleans skyscrapers?

Tough at the top The clocks on Big Ben were cleaned by abseiling window-cleaners. Some other big cleaning/painting jobs: — Repainting the Forth Railway Bridge used to be a metaphor… Read more

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Our boys in the Islamic state: Britain's export jihad

23 August 2014

It is the now familiar nightmare image. A kneeling prisoner, and behind him a black-hooded man speaking to camera. The standing man denounces the West and claims that his form… Read more

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Boris is back – and he has George Osborne in his sights

9 August 2014

So Boris has made his great leap. The blond king over the water has revealed his plans to cross the river, return to Parliament and assume what he believes is… Read more

Scenes In And Around London's Soho

L’Escargot is Soho as Soho sees itself

9 August 2014

L’Escargot, or the Snail, is a famous restaurant on Greek Street, Soho, opposite the old Establishment club; the oldest French restaurant in London, they say (1927), and who am I… Read more

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Sloane Rangers vs Arabs – the battle for Chelsea

12 July 2014

Perhaps you’re aware that it’s Ramadan right now, the month in which all good Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex during daylight. What you might not know is… Read more

Kingston Crowds Wait For Haile Selassie I

Why I’m now scared of book clubs

12 July 2014

‘Hi Ian!’ the email began. ‘We are a group of mostly females who meet regularly in London to review really good reads. We are currently reading The Dead Yard, and… Read more

Conrad Black back on familiar territory at The Spectator on 3 July. Image: Alan Davidson

From jailbird to social butterfly – the return of Conrad Black

5 July 2014

The former proprietor of this magazine, Conrad Black, is in London at the moment with his gorgeous wife Barbara, and I’ve got very bad news for those of his enemies… Read more

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‘Dark pools’ are just another conspiracy of bankers against the public

5 July 2014

It was at the Mansion House dinner last year that a City gent two seats away announced himself to be the custodian of one of London’s ‘dark pools’. The phrase… Read more

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I may not know much about khat, but I know banning it is crazy

28 June 2014

Khat is a leafy stimulant chewed mainly, I gather, by Somalis. This week the government banned its possession and sale. And, for the life of me, I cannot figure out… Read more

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Discovering bourbon on Brick Lane

28 June 2014

When I was stationed in Kentucky I never drank bourbon. It wasn’t until I came to London that the drink became something special to me. I always passed a bowling… Read more

At the Chiltern Firehouse, smugness should be on the menu

28 June 2014

Here then is Gatsby’s house, after an invasion by the Daily Mail. It is called the Chiltern Firehouse. It is a restaurant in a newly opened hotel in a Victorian… Read more

Kensington And Chelsea Street, Egerton Crescent Named Most Expensive For Second Year Running

Young Italians flock to London – for just the same reasons it scares me

14 June 2014

Although I live in the country in Northamptonshire, I go to London often — almost once a week — and I find it more and more intimidating. This isn’t just… Read more

Party workers outside a polling station at the Christ Church Primary School in Brick Lane Photo: Getty

Labour has proved that it speaks for London – and nowhere else

31 May 2014

So, now almost all the votes have been counted — except for those in the Islamic Republic of Tower Hamlets, where the vibrant and colourful political practices of Bangladesh continue to… Read more

Thomas Piketty Photo: Getty

Fight Thomas Piketty or face a mansion tax

31 May 2014

The postman at the door is stooped by his burden like an allegorical statue of Labour Oppressed by Capital. His wearisome, low-waged task is to deliver a copy of Thomas… Read more

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The rudest restaurants in London

17 May 2014

Wong Kei is a mad Chinese restaurant on Wardour Street, Chinatown. Until recently it was considered the rudest restaurant in London and, because human stupidity is without end, it became… Read more

How DO you pronounce 'Marylebone'? 

17 May 2014

‘Take a trip to Marylebone station,’ chanted my husband. ‘Do not pass Go. Do not collect £200.’ I had been to the station to take the rather nice Chiltern Railways… Read more

Jack's back!

Jack Bauer hits, er, West Ealing

10 May 2014

Whatever worries Kiefer Sutherland may have had about reprising the role of Jack Bauer in 24: Live Another Day (Sky1, Wednesday), learning his lines for episode one won’t have been… Read more

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The only way to survive as a cyclist is to behave like you're suicidal

3 May 2014

I wonder how many cyclists are killed in London during tube strikes? I had a 10 a.m. meeting in the West End on Tuesday that I couldn’t cancel so made the… Read more

(Photo: Matthew Lloyd/Getty)

Governments have failed — mayors are the future

12 April 2014

As Michael Bloomberg approached the end of his time as Mayor of New York, Americans expected him to run for the White House. He had the money, the profile and… Read more

London House Lounge

Gordon Ramsay joins in the posh invasion of Battersea

5 April 2014

London House is in Battersea, which some people call South Chelsea, but is more East Wandsworth to my mind; or maybe North Clapham, or, even better, West Brixton. This is… Read more

Mayor Boris Johnson Visits Building Site For New Homes

The Spectator's Notes: If Putin can have a referendum, so can Boris

29 March 2014

Everyone can see that the West has no idea what to do about Russian power in the Ukraine. Britain, in particular, is at the margins. It is time for the… Read more

The Prime Minister And Education Secretary Open A Free School In Birmingham

Schools need freeing from the right as well as the left

15 March 2014

Knowledge can be successfully transmitted and received only by those who recognise its value. If our governments have regarded education as valuable, however, it is usually as a means to… Read more

Moro interior

So is Moro a Tory restaurant now?

8 March 2014

Moro (‘moorish’ or ‘sexist’) is a Spanish restaurant on Exmouth Market, near the bones of the old Guardian and Observer building on Farringdon Road. I don’t mind telling Spectator readers… Read more

Very bad poems on the Underground

8 March 2014

My husband was surprised by quite a bit when we travelled by Underground in London the other day. Although he has a Nelson Mandela Memorial Freedom Pass, he seldom chooses… Read more