The observer

No nonsense in the kitchen

I rather bristle at newspaper column collections. They strike me as a bit lazy, a cheat’s way of getting another book under the belt, often just in time for the gift-giving season. When it comes to Rachel Cooke’s Kitchen Person, however, I have to eat my words. It draws from the 14 years of monthly food columns Cooke wrote for the Observer from 2009. Each comes with a postscript from the author looking back on her thoughts at the time, ensuring that the pieces hold their own as a collection, as something cohesive. You sit down to read one essay, and look up 75 pages later. The tone, too, is

The Observer’s embarrassing John Stonehouse blunder

Oh dear. In their endless Tory-bashing quest, it seems that the Observer has blundered again. The release of a new ITV show on a dodgy 1970s politician with a propensity for scandal prompted columnist Catherine Bennett to write how he ‘paved the way for today’s sleazy Tory MPs.’ In an article that appears in today’s newspaper, she mused how this politician’s ‘rackety life and faked death… seems almost quaint compared with the brazenness of members of his party today.’ There’s just one problem of course – the new ITV series is about John Stonehouse, a Labour MP. You might have thought that, while watching the series, claims about Soviet contacts

When sexism was routine: the life of the female reporter in 1970s London

This book made me almost weep with nostalgia, but heaven knows what today’s snowflakes will make of it. Fleet Street working conditions were horrendous — the offices were filthy, and covered in a thick pall of cigarette smoke. There’d be frequent wastepaper bin fires when someone threw a smouldering cigarette into a bin full of paper and a male journalist would pee on it to put it out. (Nobody had bottles of water on their desks in those days.) The noise was ear-splitting, with everyone shouting into their phones above the constant clatter of Remingtons. When the presses started to roll around 4 p.m., the whole building shook. ‘Actually,’ Julie