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This Is Just To Say I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox   And which you were probably saving for breakfast   Forgive me they were delicious so sweet and so cold “What’s that poem by William Carlos Williams? The one I love?” And Laura, the delightfully whimsical wife who loves nothing […] Read more

Basket Case

  The OED’s earliest citation for the use of the phrase “basket case” dates from January 1919, two months after the war ended. It’s from Oak Leaves, a local newspaper in Oak Park, Ill.: “There were seven ‘basket cases,’ men without arms or legs.” And their mobility was their invalid basket, or early wheelchair. The […] Read more

Hospitality (4) Quinta da Concecaio, Setubal

An owl lived in the dark green cork woods and I was lulled  to  sleep  by gentle hooting.  A harvest moon silvered a swimming pool flanked by classical pillars and a Moorish aqueduct, crickets stridulated during the slow languid afternoon and a rumbustious cock crowed somewhere in the distance. These were exceptions to the silence […] Read more

Berlin Uber Cool

Berlin There is a whole way of living that has been carrying on outside my observational watchtower, because it is mainly the playground of the young  (under forties) although persons vulgarly called aging hipsters are allowed a grudging look-in. However, this exception to the rule admits only the very wealthy, very mad or geniuses (self […] Read more

Ignore the untidy jackets on the back of the chair and my bike seen through the window, leaning against the Oxford University Admissions Office but admire this composition of a copper coffee jug – covered to conserve the heat- the delicate barely sweet sesame biscuit, two flowered cups, a copper coloured spoon and a frosted […] Read more

Oxford Stalwarts (2) Susanna Pressel

  Note: All italics in parenthesis  are my own views, not Susanna’s. You’ve been a Labour Councillor for 20 years, tell me about the high points and low points of your long political career. Susanna Pressel:  That’s so hard to answer- everyday I meet people who are so positive and so appreciative, but two of […] Read more

Fave caffs (12): Boswells Tea Rooms

Is Boswells the only relic of the family department store this side of the Chilterns? Full of objets d’art, toiletries, handbags, luggage, “gift” china, obscure cookery and household items, linen and toys this shop is a treasured landmark. Owned by the Pearson family since 1890 we cherish this notable oddity for its variety of mothballs […] Read more

Unfave caffs: Dosa Park, Frideswide Square

What is the point of a  multi-million pound building declaiming the virtues of Mammon and Capital (and flaunting its diligent little aspirants behind plate glass in full view of passersby and skateboarders) when right opposite its sleek facade is a run-down Edwardian arcade of  shops and eateries that spell sleaze? Most outstandingly depressing among these […] Read more

When I was a silly 10 year old my brother I played a game of pretending to be two Parsis called Freny and Homi and we carried on dialogues in funny voices between the imaginary pair and which we thought were hilarious. I found their names exotic and so different from run of the mill  […] Read more

Quiet week in Delhi

March 18 The week before Holi ushers in the summer-   prelude to what Babar the first Mughal described as a hellish inferno. Summer is so extreme that it sucks the marrow from the bones. Already, in the last quarter of March my limbs feel a langour and brain shifts automatically to first gear. 6.30 […] Read more