It’s dark. It’s raining. January is upon us and the season of reflection, projection and resolve is underway. For voracious readers, this means that the perennial question: what to read next will be nagging at their shoulders more urgently than ever.
I was recently nominated by a friend on Facebook to post a list of the 10 books that had made the most impact on me. It was a lot harder than I thought and I’ve had to miss out some real favourites. I could have written ten lists, let alone ten titles, featuring almost entirely…
I must admit that when I first heard about the campaign to make London the world’s first National Park City, I thought it was a joke.
And yet the more I thought about it, the more interesting the concept became.
Imagine a map that grew and shrank, advanced and retreated as we lived out our lives. This map wouldn’t simply chart every building, street and pavement encountered, this map would change according to the weight and resonance an individual gave to a place.
Landscapes, places and routes that meant more to you personally would be given greater prominence.
Equally places you had never visited, or didn’t care, for would shrink in relative size, or disappear altogether. This would be an emotional map, a map of the inner world as much the external one.
The best way to approach London, according to Jonathan Raban at least, is from the north. You should drive down via Archway to take in the fabled Dick Whittington hillside view of the city and descend deeper within, until you reach the river Thames, where London’s full glory will hit you.
My own arrival was rather prosaic by comparison: a dull coach journey up the M4 from Bristol, which ended up amid the traffic at Hyde Park Corner