When I Was Five

“A house in Kensington and £2,000 a year.” Sounds a bit like some thing from the pen of Muriel Spark, doesn’t it? Well, you’d have to sell the house these days. When I started in the City I never aspired to a residence in Kensington but I thought that I could jog along on £4,000 a year. We have all been robbed by inflation. The quote is from a film made in 1959, when I was five. Rather a good cast: Alec Guinness, Noël Coward, Maureen O’Hara, Burl Ives, Ralph Richardson and (uncredited and in a non-speaking role) John Le Mesurier.  Continue reading When I Was Five

Alms for Oblivion

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This is the SOE Memorial on the south side of the Thames outside Lambeth Palace. It was unveiled in 2009 and the bust is of Violette Szabo. Last Sunday I attended a ceremony at which representatives from Norway, Serbia and our own armed services laid wreaths around the memorial. A contingent of cadets from the Air Training Corps were in attendance. They were a sloppy bunch – a proper shambles, as an RSM in the Brigade might put it. It gladdened my heart as there is no need for precision drill in the ATC and indeed one of my favourite authors joined the ATC as a schoolboy just because it was a soft option. Continue reading Alms for Oblivion

What A Waste

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Here is Sam Mendes with the cast of Sceptre. The rating 12A for a film means that it is suitable for children aged 12 and over. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Recent James Bond films have all been given this classification and need it commercially to the extent that the director will make some cuts to get it. Spectre is 12A (just). Another successful operator in the entertainment business was not so lucky. Continue reading What A Waste

Autumn in Umbria

It is distinctly autumnal in north Umbria. Mushrooms, truffles, gourds and pumpkins are on display in the shops; and chestnuts.

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The view across the valley from L’Ospidale to Monte Santa Maria Tiberina is beautiful. L’Ospidale was probably a hostel for pilgrims and was restored by its current owner about 25 years ago.

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Today we drove north into Tuscany for lunch with an English architect who, seven years ago, bought some land on a hillside. This is what he built.

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“Amazing” is an over-used word but in describing this house it is apt.