Of all the Allied fighting service branches in which you wouldn’t have wanted to spend the second world war, probably the grimmest was submarines.
At my uncle’s holiday apartment in Salcombe, Devon, is a tiny service lift so cramped and claustrophobic that you only use it in extremis: when you have heavy bags to carry up from the car, say, or a pile of sodden wetsuits which need drying on the balcony.
I’ve got this idea for a book, when I get the time, called Everything You Know Is Wrong. Its job will be to attack all the idiot received ideas of our age — what my father-in-law calls ‘notions’. High on the list of candidates, most definitely, is the commonly held belief (especially among stand-up comics) that Bill Hicks was the greatest comedian who ever lived.
Dear Dave, There are few things more annoying than when an old friend writes to tell you what a hash…
By the time you read this I’ll be in the place that makes me happier than anywhere else in the world: a section of the Wye valley in beautiful mid-Wales, where I’ll spend every day paddling in streams and plunging in mill ponds and playing cockie-ollie in the bracken and wandering across the sunlit uplands, drinking in perhaps the finest view God ever created — the one across the Golden Valley towards the Black Mountains, and beyond that to the Brecon Beacons.
Hold on to your seats, everyone, and grab yourselves a stiff drink.
‘Dad, later, shall we go and see the Vaccines?’ says Boy.
Evan Davis clearly has a great sense of humour.
‘Would you like a smoke?’ says the dude with the ponytail.
The most unsettling aspect of modern politics is that the Enemy is no longer plain in view.
A few years ago, my at-the-time-quite-impoverished screenwriter friend Jake Michie told me about this brilliant new children’s TV series he’d dreamed up about the Knights of the Round Table.
No, this isn’t one of those articles written after the event, where you only pretend you’re writing from an exotic dateline but you’ve actually since got home.
You’ll forgive me, I hope, for coming back so soon to the subject of Adam Curtis, the first part of whose All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace was so ably dissected by Simon Hoggart last week.
The big question this week is: ‘Should Giles Coren be bound, gagged, shackled and sentenced to life imprisonment in the torture block of the sexual offenders’ wing of Black Beach maximum security prison in Equatorial Guinea, there to become the plaything of Mad “Mamba” Mbigawanga, the Man-Rapist Giant of Malabo?’ Well, obviously, when you put it like that, the answer’s obvious.
For the past few weeks, unnoticed by all but the most sharp-eyed critics, BBC1 has been running a Celebrate Communitarianism season.
I’m in Dallas, Texas, for a Heritage Foundation conference when who should march into my hotel but a battalion of US marines, ahead of their deployment to Afghanistan.
There’s a brilliant moment in the 1975 Doctor Who storyline The Ark In Space when Sarah Jane (Elisabeth Sladen), on a vital mission to save Earth from the evil insectoid Wirrn, gets stuck in a ventilator shaft.
One of the things I’ve belatedly realised now I’ve acquired the wisdom of age is that I’ve always been anti-establishment.
It’s about two years since my old friend Damian Thompson approached me with a couple of yellowish rocks and a pipe and said: ‘Have a puff on this.
When I was a teenager I used to upset my father by telling him I thought it would be really glamorous to die young in a car crash.
The other day Girl’s class found themselves with time to spare in the vast play area behind the Imperial War Museum.
I vividly remember the moment when I saw my first black person. It was December in either ’68 or ’69, so I would have been three or four at the time, and my father’s works had arranged some kind of coach outing to meet Father Christmas. Seated near me was a black child a bit older than me, and I recall gazing fascinated at the blackness of his skin and noticing that it had white blotches on it like a mirror image of the dark freckles and moles on my skin. ‘Daddy, what are those white things?’ I asked, pointing at the boy’s skin. ‘Pigment,’ my father explained.
The Fawn came up to me the other day in a state of extreme agitation: she’d been listening to George Monbiot on the radio.
If at the beginning of the 15th century you’d had to predict who was going to dominate the world for the next 500 years, the answer would surely have been China.
‘Oh Daddy, please can I have that Nazi eagle badge.