Loneliness: the secret circle of hell

“We cannot cope alone,” wrote George Monbiot in his essay on the age of loneliness, published in The Guardian two years ago. Human beings are social animals: we crave the support, approval and love of like-minded individuals. But society in the last 50 years has become steadily more atomised, with a relentless focus on individual success. … Continue reading Loneliness: the secret circle of hell


In one of my first letters from Magteld, a couple of months after we met, she asked when my birthday was. The missive arrived on August 31st, the morning after my 19th birthday, so I was recovering from a late night in a campsite bar swilling cheap Italian lager by the bottle. She told me hers was March … Continue reading Birthdays


It took me several years to get David Bowie. Even now I'm not sure I do. Perhaps because my teenage years in the late eighties coincided with a lean period in his career (between China Girl and Tin Machine), or because the gaudy otherworldliness of Ziggy Stardust seemed almost calculated to alienate an achingly self-conscious … Continue reading Bowie

The Dutch and their weather: enough to make Goldilocks tear her hair out

Last weekend I was sitting out in my garden, drinking coffee in a T-shirt and shorts. The sky was a vivid blue speckled with fine clouds and the temperature had languidly risen above 20 degrees for a third successive day. It was October. And my thoughts drifted inescapably towards the peculiar relationship the Dutch have … Continue reading The Dutch and their weather: enough to make Goldilocks tear her hair out