Archive for the Travel Category

Memoir of a Soho square

Posted in Food & Drink, Pointless Nostalgia, Travel on May 21, 2012 by Johnnie

Lately, I’ve been catching up with a month’s worth of weekend supplements. It’s a nice thing to do, especially when you have very little money. All that culture, most of it out of reach and well out of the range of my rather functionless wallet.

One thing I love above all else is to read reviews of London restaurants. For the life of me, I can’t work out how I ever managed to eat out when I lived there – but it must be something to do with the fact that I had no dependents. But that’s besides the point – the restaurants that get reviewed by Messrs Rayner, Coren, Lanchester and Gill are very rarely of the type I could afford to eat in.

However, when I read AA Gill’s review of the restaurant 10 Greek Street in 6th May’s Sunday Times Style and I found myself becoming slightly emotional, for several reasons – mainly nostalgic ones.

Continue reading

These are Grave times…

Posted in Grave News, Travel on October 29, 2010 by Johnnie

It is that time of year.  The air has turned chill and crisp, the leaves brown, orange and scarlet.  The time of overcoats, scarves, gloves and mystery, when I feel the overwhelming impulse to listen to the very bleakest Scott Walker and read ghost stories.  It’s also the time when I feel like spend chilly afternoons wandering around cemeteries.

As the title of this blog suggests, I love cemeteries, graves, tombs and all the paraphernalia of death.  Growing up reading Poe and MR James, it’s hardly surprising.  I’m drawn to all things Hammer and there’s little more enthralling than a graveyard scene in any novel, even those which don’t involve the supernatural; the opening of The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins being one of the finest examples.

Cemeteries are amongst the few places I can become properly lost in thought.  There is a peace and tranquility within their walls which is unlike any other, and one that encourages wandering rather than sitting in contemplation.  Continue reading

Why is a taxi driver’s time more precious than anyone else’s?

Posted in Rude Things, Shopping, Travel, WhingeRantMoan on October 18, 2010 by Johnnie

First, a disclaimer:  I know that not all Dublin taxi drivers have over-bitten, vinegar-soaked fingernails, nor do they all wear chafing hessian underpants – in other words, they’re not universally irritable, intolerant, impatient, racist, shoulder-chipped prole chauffeurs.  I also understand that, as self-employed people, time generally equals money in their line of business.  And I have had more than my fair share of thoroughly pleasant, courteous, considerate cabbies in my time too.

However, a little good will goes a long way and it’s distinctly lacking in some quarters.  Three times recently I’ve got into a pre-booked taxi to find the meter already running.   Continue reading

Waiter, there’s a woman in my soup

Posted in Advice, Star "Style", Travel on July 30, 2010 by Johnnie

It’s hard to believe that the boom-time obsession with spas hasn’t gone away.  Glossy mags, weekend supplements and the provincial press are still plugging these idiotic, aery-faery dens of self-gratification, a hangover from what already looks like the tackiest bygone era in history.

We’re already well into the first year of a new decade, and a more circumspect era, you’d think.  I had hoped most of the detestable things about the noughties (Ireland’s answer to the south of England’s Thatcher era) would have dissipated like the fads they were.   I should say, it’s certainly not that the noughties were all bad – let’s face it, any decade that began with The Gray Twins, David and Macy, as its biggest selling musical artists had really nowhere to go but up.

But it did herald the worst extremes of lame, low culture – not just the obsession with self-pampering, but the lamentable cult of non-celebrities taking up magazine space where actual celebrities would be, were there any actual celebrities.  Continue reading

The Sound of the Underwhelmed

Posted in Music, Travel on March 11, 2010 by Johnnie

Because I’m a parent, people, with the very best of intentions, always feel the need to recommend Trabolgan Holiday Village to me, as if I look like the sort of dad who needs to have a disc inserted where my imagination should be.  I mean, yes, we are all aware of the difficulties in coping with the stupidly short attention span most modern children seem to have, and how it’s actually quite nice for parents to occasionally hand over the responsibility for entertaining them to jolly creche staff, terrifying clowns or social inadequates dressed as purple dinosaurs.  In fact, it’s essential, otherwise life ends up being a succession of daydreams about downing a bottle of wine between putting them to bed and the start of Newsnight.

However, I really do draw the line at holiday camp entertainment.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m as nostalgic for Hi De Hi as the next decrepit old couch potato, but the notion of trapping kids in a twilight zone of half-arsed amusements and tragic day-release grotesques is beyond terrifying.  How any parent can consider punishing their children for simply being children by forcing them to witness the stubborn, baked-on dregs of the entertainment industry is a matter that has me seriously considering a call to Childline. Continue reading

Is there NOTHING they don’t make for chavs these days..?

Posted in Grave News, Travel on November 16, 2009 by Johnnie


Do you enjoy listening to the choons of Scooter emanating from some spotty youth’s car at traffic lights outside shopping centres?  Are you disappointed when the souped-up Corsa, Punto or Saxo speeds off, leaving you hankering after more happy hardcore jumpstyle Eurobilge?  Well, help is at hand, with the SCOOTER DELUXE SOUNDMASTER, which offers a proper, access-all-areas, non-stop sound for skangers on scooters and their many appreciative fans.  According to the manufacturer: Continue reading

The Pap and The Poop

Posted in Food & Drink, Grave News, Travel on August 5, 2009 by Johnnie


This is a blog about a log.  Sorry about this; I’m writing from Scotland, where the locals (including most members of my family) are utterly charmed by tales of excretion.  Lots of non-Scots may think this is entirely to do with Billy Connolly and his jolly old japes about jobbies, but all he did was tap into a national obsession – not so much with our bowels themselves (that’s an Italian pastime) but with the end product.

This particular story concerns a photographer, who regaled some female relatives of mine with a particularly charming tale.  This fellow is now making a living taking pictures of nature and weddings but, once upon a time, he was a paparazzo. Continue reading