Mercy

When she was a teenager Misti Traya travelled from America to spend three months working in an orphanage in Romania. This is what happened to her... When I was 15, I went on a mission of mercy.  My mission was this:  Dear God, please let the Ivies have mercy on my ... Read More...

My life as a failed stamp collector

Steerforth recalls, with pathos and bemusement, his brief attempt at being an entrepreneurial philatelist... When I was 11-years-old I became friends with a boy whose parents were divorced. I'd never met anyone whose mother and father lived apart and I remember feeling quite jealous that he had two homes. In my ... Read More...

Campaignballs! The Top 7 Pieces of Twaddle you’ll hear between now and the General Election

Virtually everything you will hear in the forthcoming General Election campaign from all Parties will be frothy twaddle, bearing no relation to facts and designed merely to appeal to tribal prejudices. Here are some of the most frequently-recurring pieces of tripe and the truths behind them...   1) Conservativeballs: Osborne’s ‘austerity’ has meant ... Read More...

Why Proust hasn’t changed my life

What's the real minority specialist-interest genre of books - the one that bookshops just can't shift? It's literary fiction, says Steerforth... As a bookseller, one of the first lessons I learned when running the fiction section was that the sales of the first volume of Proust's A La Recherche Du Temps ... Read More...

70’s Rock Stars at Home With Their Parents

What are the wildest stars of rock and roll like when they're at home with their mum and dad? That was the premise behind these images captured by John Olson for LIFE magazine in 1971. Pictured above is Eric Clapton with his mother at the house in Surrey where he grew up. In 1971 at ... Read More...

Sickness and health

Douglas on Henry James, cardiac arrests and coping with one's health... I had to forgive myself last year for not finishing a Henry James novel.  I’d read maybe a dozen of his shorter fictions, all of them with relish. The Middle Years, The Pupil, The Liar, The Real Thing, and The Altar of the Dead were ... Read More...

The Book Thieves of London

Bookseller Steerforth recalls his battles with the bibliokepts - both oddball amateurs and professional book thieves... In his memoirs, Jeffrey Bernard used to talk about the distinct social groups that frequented his regular pub, the notorious Coach and Horses in Soho. Alongside the actors, stage hands, dancers and drunks, there were ... Read More...