City of Words: Introduction

Before blogs or tweets—a newspaper column from the 1990s.

Into my heart an air that kills

Death has no mercy for the lads in A Shropshire Lad

Sweet dreams in the round reading room

The British Library is moving; we shall not be snoozing there again

A dead shark in the face of the public

The long-delayed triumph of plasma vorticism

Brit Crits Nix Car Wreck Sex Flick

Don’t ban Crash; ban cars

Displaying 137 articles

Order by   Newest   |   Oldest   |   A - Z   |   Z - A

City of Words: Introduction

City of Words: Introduction

The column “City of Words” appeared weekly, from 1995 to 1999, in The Guardian newspaper. The idea came from Liz Jobey, then The Guardian’s literary editor; its godparent was the paper’s chief political columnist, Hugo... more»

Car wars

The last thing I saw before I rolled my bike and fell in the path of an oncoming truck was the statue of the gunner at Hyde Park Corner—a callipygous nude that dominates the war... more»

The whales of Nunavut

A jetliner on a transpolar night flight develops a mechanical fault. Forced to land in a snowstorm on an ice-bound landing strip, it touches down and taxis to a halt on the frozen runway. Members... more»

Back to the mystic

I’m drunk and you’re insane / Who’s going to lead us home? It’s good to know, if you’ve been drinking, that a mystical poet is there with you in spirit, though he may have been dead... more»

Felling trees and eating chimpanzees

I’ve never eaten chimpanzee flesh. I expect you haven’t either. And as of this week there’s a new reason not to. Chimpanzees, it appears from new research in Africa, may be the original source of... more»

Look what they’ve done to my song, ma

As the lyricist Sir Tim Rice has pointed out, here are only so many notes in a scale. And only... more»

Children at arms

In the 1980s the standard image to emerge from the world’s disaster zones was a skeletal child with despairing eyes, clutching the hand of an aid worker. Soon this was displaced by another stereotype, a... more»

Disneyland for Dictators

We live in the twilight of the dictators. Or we hope we do. The military strongmen of South America are long gone. Many of the big men of Africa are dying off, or repining in... more»

Kicking against the pips

Drifting down the aisles at our local Tesco, lulled to a trance by the saturated lighting, drunk in the arms of consumerism, I find myself in the fruit and veg section, absent-mindedly palpating a half-ripe... more»

The Labour party’s gay godfather

Gay-baiting political reporters at the Sun newspaper will have to dig harder to uncover the true roots of homosexual influence in the Labour party. This is because the party itself has largely forgotten them. Try... more»