Notes from West London · Reading

Vegans and Oxbridge Graduates

Here’s the first part of my favourite joke from recent years:   “Why did the vegan cross the road?”   I was asked this by a very polite, well-brought up woman in her 30s, who I have known since she was 3. Immediately after asking me the question she looked worried and said, “Oh, you’re not a vegan are you?”, as… Continue reading Vegans and Oxbridge Graduates

In the news · Language · Reading

“Thousand-yard stares”

Many phrases have entered common usage since Coronavirus began to dominate the headlines back in March: “social distancing”, “track and trace”, “immuno-compromised”. A phrase that has been around for many years but has only registered with me in the last few months, when reading articles about Coronavirus, is the “thousand-yard stare”. I first encountered it… Continue reading “Thousand-yard stares”

Reading · Word of the week

Word of the week: marginalia

  Earlier this month I wrote about Saul Bellow’s 1976 memoir “To Jerusalem and Back”, noting that I would “mention it again soon on these pages”. The phrase that prompted me to write that earlier piece, and which can be found on page 108 of my “Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics” edition, was “Now that the reading… Continue reading Word of the week: marginalia


“Now that the reading fit is on me again” (Saul Bellow)

“Now that the reading fit is on me again” is a phrase that leapt out at me earlier this week, in Saul Bellow’s “To Jerusalem and Back”, his 1976 work subtitled “A Personal Memoir”. It’s exactly how I feel when going through a reading binge. I did not expect to find the same sentiment expressed… Continue reading “Now that the reading fit is on me again” (Saul Bellow)