Vegas and other Lands
|Articles 1 to 5 of 9|
Granta at 100
A few minutes after lunching with Ian Jack, who departed as editor of Granta earlier this year after 12 years and 48 issues, I dropped into Quinto, the second-hand bookshop on Charing Cross Road. Granta was about to celebrate its 100th edition, and I wanted some early copies - those classic ones with writing by Richard Ford, John Berger, Martin Amis and Angela Carter. The man at the counter wasn't impressed. 'What's Granta?'
The Olympic Allotment
At their heart, allotments are about stories. Every owner has a story, and every planting has one, and if you gather them all together in one place - the waiting-list sagas, the slug invasions, the strange-looking carrots, the shared cups of tea and barbecues at sunset - you have something called a community.
Under Their Skins
For a while in the late Sixties and early Eighties, Britain fostered a youth cult so iconic in its imagery, and so threatening in its pose, that we remain ashamed of it decades later. Steel-capped boots and jeans with back pockets shaped by sharpened metal combs: that was the look, all aggravation and bristle, the terror at station platforms and football terraces and corner shops. Fashion is about many things - money, humiliation, fitting in and sticking out - but until skinheads showed up it was rarely about menace..
The Hotel Calcutta
This is a story I wrote for a book to benefit Unicef called The Weekenders: Adventures in Calcutta (Ebury Press). A group of writers, including Monica Ali and Irvine Welsh, travelled to India in 2003 to write personal stories inspired by a remarkable city. This piece is about a very expensive and ambitious hotel, and the people who work there.
Toaster, Sideburns, Friends...
Last month I placed the following listing on eBay, the internet's best-known auction site. It appeared under the Books (Entertainment) section, and it had a reserve price of £1. I lifted the sales pitch directly from the jacket blurb on All My Life for Sale: 'One day John Freyer decided to sell everything he owned on the internet. He invited his friends over to tag all the possessions in his apartment, and he systematically put them up for sale on eBay. An unopened box of taco shells, half a bottle of mouthwash, almost all of his clothes, his records, his sideburns (in a plastic bag), furniture: John didn't let sentiment or utility stand in his way. Soon his belongings were sold all over the world, with a bag of Porky's BBQ Pork Skins making its way to Japan, and a chair ending up in the Museum of Modern Art. With almost all the objects in his life now gone, he started the second phase of his journey: to visit his one-time possessions in their new homes.'