Jan morris

Jonathan Raban’s last hurrah

Jonathan Raban, who died earlier this year, left this memoir almost complete. It tells two stories, artfully braided. One concerns the first three years of the author’s parents’ marriage, when Peter Raban was abroad serving in the second world war. He rose to become a major in the Royal Artillery, fighting in France and Belgium, evacuated from Dunkirk and proceeding to North Africa, Italy and Palestine. The second is about the author’s stroke in 2011, aged 69, his rehabilitation in a neurological ward where, on his first morning, a nurse asked ‘Do you want to go potty now?’, and the start of a new life as a hemiplegic. Raban had

Why night-clubbing in New York is a risky business

New York The acerbic writer Gore Vidal was once asked which period of history he would choose to have lived in. ‘The 17th century with penicillin,’ was his answer. It was a good sound bite but I don’t agree. Just the smells back then would be enough to kill me, and what about the people without teeth? And the plague of 1665 makes today’s virus seem like a slight head cold. Personally, I’d choose post-second world war New York City, as described in Jan Morris’s wondrous Manhattan ’45. I got there three years later, to Manhattan, that is, and the place was as fabulous as I had heard and imagined