After roughly 3,000 hours of intense tuition in such diverse pedagogic settings as a secondary school in Liverpool, evening classes at the City Lit and conversational practice with Martine in the privacy of my own home, I am now more or less able to make myself understood at the cheese counter o
Dr Tony Sewell has concluded that "black culture", whatever that is, prevents young black men from succeeding in education. The good doctor is employed as a commentator by Choice FM.
What real influence does the voice of the centre left and Labour's favourite think-tank wield? The I
I don't know how many of you were in therapy ten years ago, but those who were might remember a projective technique called "Who Am I?".
Normally when people come back from holiday in the middle of August and ask if anything interesting has happened while they have been away, if anyone famous has died, it is difficult to think of anything apart from crop circles.
I wrote a few weeks ago that I had been invited to the farewell party for Chief Inspector Dalton ("Mack") McConnie, the resigning police liaison officer for Lambeth - which includes that insurrectionary turf, Brixton.
A wannabe city full of company headquarters and shopping malls, but with no cathedral or university.
I'm due to be interviewed for a new post next Thursday.
A new biography of Edmund White, which has just been published, reveals that he works for only one hour a day. Bastard. Graham Greene used to write exactly 300 words every day. When he had reached 300, he just stopped, even if he was in the middle of a sentence.
There are mixed signals coming through the summer heat in Brixton. A fortnight ago, a young man in hot pursuit of another fired a volley of bullets into a crowd queuing to get into a club on Peckham High Street.
The receptionist at my Amsterdam hotel had clearly graduated in catering studies with at least an Upper Second.
In December 1899, Rudyard Kipling decided he needed his own car, so he hired one. It cost three and a half guineas a week.
Channel 4's Caribbean Summer season hit the broadcasting world with a bang, woven as it is around the Test cricket series between England and the West Indies.
''All governments are liars," wrote the great American muckraker I F Stone, "and nothing they say should be believed." He exaggerated, although not by much.
It was the great Cynthia Payne who once memorably observed that it was impossible to get any sense out of men until they had been "de-spunked".
In last week's diary, I narrowly avoided making a fool of myself - all right, all right, a fool of myself again. At the very last minute, I was alerted that the transcript of obscene out-takes from Have I Got News For You was actually a fake.
A committed conservationist, Barbara Hunt, accused her local council, Spelthorne Council, in Staines, Middlesex, of transforming one of the town's main streets into a "messy" Brixton. She describes her area thus: "[Like Brixton] the town centre has become very run-down.
Liberals fear a Pinochet-style regime; but Russia's new leader is their best hope. Vladimir Putin pr
The exigencies of column-writing being as they are, this is the last time I shall bring you gossip from Westminster until late September, when the party conference season will be upon us. Even that isn't the same. Both the Labour and TUC conferences are wrapping up a day early.
I first went to Murton, a Durham pit town, just before Christmas 1973. The National Union of Mineworkers had arranged that I spend a night in F32, a seam that was not on the visitor's run, and lay a third of a mile beneath the town.
Everything was going swimmingly at the New Statesman party until I decided to wander away from the group of seasoned old buffers with whom I had spent the first two hours of the evening and found myself pushed against the wall of the Serpentine Gallery by an enthusiastic young man with
Though it has now become a ritual for 17 million people, Thomas Cook's brainchild may be on its last
A couple of days ago, I drove past a second-hand shop called "Junk and Disorder", which raised a smile. But I always wonder what it would be like to work in a shop with a name like that for month after month, as the joke wore thinner and thinner.
Who, it is being asked in the Commons bars, would have an interest in upstaging Chancellor Gordon Brown and his comprehensive spending review? The first editions of the broadsheet papers on Monday 17 July led with previews of Ir'n Broon's calculating generosity.
We are not going to have a whale of a time at London's New Year's Eve party. It is going to be a scaled-down shindig - half a party. Don't be surprised if there is no party at all. And why? The police are asking us Londoners to pay a punitive cost of £3m for extra policing on the night.
The photo of the handbag was splashed across the Telegraph: the symbol of Mrs T's political matriarchy had been auctioned off for charity and fetched £100,000.
Trevor Phillips, the chairman of the Greater London Assembly, in a rare outburst, threatened the new Mayor, Ken Livingstone, saying that he intended "to kick ass". Ken, he said, is building a Kenocracy. He, Trevor, seeks the interests of the people of London.
At last, they are undergoing a real personality change: the <em>Volk</em> is doomed and Hitler just
Change and dismay are all around. Tony Blair's bad week is prompting unfavourable comparisons with his predecessor. The ex-chancellor Norman Lamont is telling anyone who will listen: "I never thought he would turn out so much like John Major."
Another week, another book launch. This week, it was Jill Westwood's first novel, Holding the Centre. I can't say that my toast flew out of my hand with excitement when the invitation from Axon Press turned up on my breakfast table.