The Home That 2 Built: the ’80s

It was a case of the sweet and the sour in the third instalment of BBC2's The Home That 2 Built: the '80s. In this decade of "fast cash and even faster technology" Britons embraced the joy of home ownership and spending loadsamoney. The bad news was the excess of chintz, stippling, stencilling, rag rolling... Continue Reading →

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The Home That 2 Built: the ’70s

"It's surprising, looking back, how few lifestyle programmes there were on BBC2," announces Mel Giedroyc near the end of The Home That 2 Built: the '70s, the second part of BBC2's review of how its own shows have helped to shape the British lifestyle over the decades. She's right: while the 1960s provided rich pickings... Continue Reading →

Exploring London with Ronald Searle

"As any fule kno", cartoonist Ronald Searle was the man who injected a spirit of anarchy into the British education system through his St Trinian's books. Searle also illustrated the Nigel Molesworth stories, in which author Geoffrey Willans took us inside that other great seat of learning, St Custard's prep school. He's less well-known as... Continue Reading →

The many faces of crime fiction

I'm looking forward to the movie adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's, The Two Faces of January, which opens in the UK later this week. Hossein Amini's film stars Viggo Mortensen and Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis) alongside Kirsten Dunst. Though it's not one of Highsmith's better-known novels, The Two Faces of January is sure to feature... Continue Reading →

Rhymes and Ballads of London

My knowledge of poetry is limited, but like many kids I spent my formative years having popular nursery rhymes drummed into my head. Carole Tate's Rhymes and Ballads of London (published in 1971) is a reminder of how many of these old favourites were centred around the capital, its people and its history. "Oranges and... Continue Reading →

Playing Happy Families

It's lucky that my parents live in a large house and never throw anything away; otherwise I would never have rediscovered this pack of Happy Families cards. Strictly speaking, this game is called Jeu des 7 Familles because it was bought during a family holiday in France in 1972. This pack is "Familles Champions", featuring... Continue Reading →

Unwrap a Retro Birthday

Greetings cards may losing the battle against e-cards, texts and FaceBook messages, but a gift that comes packaged in classy wrapping paper is still worth a thousand words. In the case of the sample shown above, it's definitely worth a lot more than the £1.25 I paid in a branch of Paperchase yesterday afternoon. That's... Continue Reading →

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