Cancer ward

I’ve been sitting in a cancer ward at the Royal Marsden Hospital, desperately relying on a Tudor detective novel to distract me. Nurses are putting cancer drugs into my child and it’s almost impossible to bear. One of them catches me glaring at her. “Everything OK?”...

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Neat freaks find my CD-Rom

I just had the declutterers in.  It’s sheer extravagance, but when you’ve still got the debris from your father’s estate to weed out, ten years after his death, probably justified. Maybe in 2008 I believed I might still keep him – deny death - by holding on to every...

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An Englishman’s history of France

The writer, broadcaster and popular historian John Julius Norwich died on 1 June 2018, aged 88, just after publishing “France: A History from Gaul to de Gaulle”.  Poignantly, the author says in the preface: “I know I have said it before, but this is almost certainly...

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Corrag, The Highland Witch

Susan Fletcher’s novel “Witch Light” is set in 1692, a handful of years after my Huguenot ancestors fled France and landed in England – hopeful of a warm welcome, since the Glorious Revolution of 1688 had ousted James II (a king too prone to Catholicism) and installed...

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Little Staughton Google Street View MK44 2BY

Little Staughton Google Street View MK44 2BY If you’ve got the courage, and it’s still standing, you can look at your childhood home on Google Street View.  I googled the name of our cottage to find out its postcode – MK44 2BY – and was suddenly struck with the...

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King Billy and the Bank

Protestant King William III set up the Bank of England in 1694 to fund wars against his Catholic French nemesis – King Louis XIV, the Sun King.  The first Governor of the Bank was Sir John Houblon, great-grandson of a Huguenot refugee. Various Houblons were involved...

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