Looking out at you smugly from the pages of Get a Lifestyle, You Sad, Unstylish Person are lofters Rajiv and Zoe. The fashionable pair inhabit a loft-style apartment (please don’t call it a ‘flat’), which is probably in Bermondsey — the new Hoxton or the new Clerkenwell, depending on which property supplement you pore over with a pang of guilt-tinged longing.
Once the province of spivs, gangsters and noxious tanneries, this tangle of warehouses, wharves and printworks, Victorian railway arches and council housing has, since the mid-Nineties, emerged as a hip and thriving artists’ quarter.
Over the summer, television viewers were treated to a series hosted by the photogenic chief executive of English Heritage, Simon Thurley. In Lost Buildings of Britain, Mr Thurley made a bit of a fool of himself attempting to ‘recreate’ lost architectural treasures based on old drawings and other clues. One superb building which did not feature in this series was the historic Baltic Exchange in the City of London, described in its prime as ‘a veritable fairy palace’ and demolished three years ago.
Hungary entered the EU in May, 15 years after the fall of communism. Already Budapest is a new place, and everyone has a car. But don’t be put off: the city’s old pleasures — the music, the thermal spas and boating on the Danube — will stay for ever.
If you’re buying a house in Budapest, the first question is shall it be Buda, or Pest? Or their suburbs? Buda is the city’s steep acropolis, with the royal castle (rebuilt after 1945) on top and a lower town below beside the great river that separates Buda from Pest.
Each morning, when I opened my eyes, there was another clump of hair on the pillow. Within two weeks, I was two-thirds bald with an absurd black tuft projecting two inches over my forehead. It was radiotherapy, of course, supposedly the only remedy after the surgeon failed to remove every bit of a brain tumour. Yes, it was worrying, but in hindsight it was also a time of high comedy.
After three weeks of treatment, I went on holiday to Cornwall.
I love my job as a head teacher. It is really satisfying to be responsible for young people and to guide them in realising their potential. But sadly my time is increasingly occupied by lawyers and I have to divert an ever growing proportion of my budget away from staff, books and equipment towards defending and insuring against legal actions.
Head teachers do, on occasion, have to exclude pupils.
When I was an atheist back in the 1960s, its future seemed assured. I grew up in Northern Ireland, where religious tensions and violence had alienated many from Christianity. Like so many disaffected young people then, I rejected religion as oppressive, hypocritical, a barbarous relic of the past. The sociologists were predicting that religion would soon die out; if not, suitably enlightened governments and social agencies could ensure that it was relegated to the margins of culture, the last refuge of the intellectually feeble and socially devious.