Every few months there's a news story about a teenage party that gets out of hand. Parents go away, child invites friends on Facebook, party goes viral, house gets trashed. I cringe at the headlines, … Read article


I am in Brussels, numbering the Bruegels. It is a project. I have drawn up a spreadsheet of all 42 painted Bruegel panels, and a further 10 penumbral Bruegel works – possible misattributions, copie… Read article


PERSEID METEORS TONIGHT – COMING FROM JUST BELOW THE W OF CASSIOPEIA IN THE NORTH EAST My father’s text message reaches me late on 12 August as I catch a train to Clapham. I glance out of the win… Read article

Dr Fox

after Afanas’ev ‘Something priceless musthave left the world, old man.Why else would you cry like this,sitting in the road rather thanpressing on and kicking up red dust like others makinga jour… Read article

An Afternoon in Vence

When we arrived in Vence the Matisse chapel was closed. ‘No problem,’ I told my wife, ‘It’s open tomorrow morning.’ Except it wasn’t – I had misread the guidebook. Waiting until it reope… Read article


1638 You can only get to Lambeth by ferry.There have I ventured five several times to view the rarities at John Tradescant’s Ark,where I did spend the whole day in perusing,and that superficially, … Read article

Spinning Yarns

Over the course of the past few years, I’ve become aware of threads, bright fibres, at the edges of my vision. Somewhere, someone has been weaving their way around the habitual bits and pieces of my… Read article

Old days

My mum used to run the Darby and Joan in the village where I grew up. It was a social club for local pensioners. Once a fortnight, she would drive round the village to pick up the members, and take th… Read article


I subscribe to a certain literary journal, which I’ll call the London Review of Books. Subscribe to it, but almost never read it. Who has time to do that, academics and book publishers apart? Every… Read article

With the Sikhs

‘Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, waheguru ji ki fateh!’ It’s a comforting exhortation. The sung greeting, chanted by officiants and congregations in Sikh temples around the world, celebrates the divine a… Read article