I arrived just after the official unveiling of the great novelist last Friday. A flutter of local dignitaries lingered around him. Sun shone on their municipal chains of office. They wore the meek smiles of people who do not know quite what to think. Dickens, the great satirist, would have loved and mocked these awkward burghers in equal measure.
In the world of food and writing, I'm an al dente moaner, a social commentator looking through the holes of glazed ring doughnuts. There's no doubt, after all, that the life of someone who feels the need to write about the world around them tend to have a keen eye for the most delicious foods, often in the largest quantities.
hanks to years of unrequited love; a great deal of which came from the girls in my year and partly because of what Britney Spears did to my heart - I have come to a conclusion. We no longer secretly yearn for objects of our affection in the way that we used to.
All that can be stated with any certainty is that Joe Public is currently enjoying the fruits of 70 years of peacetime. He wants for nothing; not food, water, nor easy loving. Sensorially, the totality of his life is catered for with a click of a mouse. Novels are seen as difficult excursions that can only tax unprepared minds.
The London Nutrition for Growth Summit provides a golden opportunity to forge a partnership to provide comprehensive nutritional cover for adolescent girls and all women of reproductive age. If we can do this in London, then we have a genuine opportunity to consign stunting to the pages of history, once and for all.
Though Dickens would surely be glad to find that children are no longer sent to workhouses he would still find hungry kids and their parents in want of more food at dinnertime.
This week, snow lies across the country, suppressing mirth and stilling the air. The land is quieted, as is our national spirit, for it occurs to me that something is amiss in these isles. What became of English rumbustiousness, what Jacobson has called an 'obdurate independence'?
For some time we had been hearing all about Clerkenwell and how it is now THE most happening place in London. We had already checked out south London, and been quite impressed with Bermondsey. So we thought why not go further afield, this time east to see what's new and happening. And we were suitably impressed.
Perhaps, as the bicentennial year draws to a close and we move into Dickens' third century, there is something else the Victorian author can teach us - and that is not to teach him to our children.
"We all have multiple identities," says Tony Parsons when I ask him whether he feels more of an Englishman or a Londoner, "but I certainly feel like I'm both. But I also feel British.
If the name David Frum is at all familiar to British ears, it is generally closely accompanied by "the man who coined the phrase 'Axis of Evil'". This may be enough for some readers to dismiss anything he has to say as the work of a crypto-fascist, imperialist running dog, but they do so at their peril.
While some of the latest suggestions from the Department of Education which seem to be rolling out at the same rate as spam emails are interesting, not to mention surprising, what seems to be overlooked is an appreciation of the impact that the e-age is having on the way we learn, the way we communicate, the way we function and the way we live.
Everyone gets nostalgic sometimes. Whether it's because it's raining outside and you can't imagine summer ever coming again, or just because everything seems more difficult now you're no longer five-years-old, it happens to us all. Like the permanent feeling that anything we're not doing is far better than what we are doing, it's part of the human condition.
Having recently celebrated the art of Dickens we can also celebrate his message of social improvement and realise that those of us who take the initiative to offer a helping hand are justified in having, in regard to the results, great expectations.
Here in the US, we're working with the Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York, home to a diverse and creative community. Many people who live in the Bronx today don't have historical links to the UK, so we wanted to really engage with them and illuminate an aspect of Dickens's work that is more than just top hats and foggy Victorian London.
The Nutcracker, like Dickens, seems to embody Christmas. Showings of The Great Escape may be intermittent, but we can always rely on Tchaikovsky's Dan...