Category Archives: books

English Food – enjoy with gusto!

Tom Parker BowlesTom brings us the delights of the best of English food in an entertaining and tempting new book:  Full English: A Journey through the British and their Food by Tom Parker Bowles.  His chapter on London food is fabulous.

A richly enjoyable defence of the world’s most unfairly derided cuisine
– Christopher Hirst, The Independent

Boris admirer and food travel writer Tom Parker Bowles, delighted his audience recently at the Windsor Literary Festival with his lively, down to earth introduction to his new book.  Full English published this year by Ebury Press, is not just a list of recipes;  it is a descriptive tour of England from West Country cider brewers to Yorkshire tripe dressers sampling all the while the very best of real English food:  Bury black pudding, home-cured Wiltshire bacon and the planet’s finest cheddar.  As well as recipes for the traditional Apple and Rhubarb Crumble and Lancashire Hotpot you will find Battered Tripe and Eel Pie.  His chapter on London describes the Capital as a “great ethnic and cultural stew, that has been cosmopolitan ever since the Romans decided to set up shop”.   Tom is pioneering in his quest is to delve beneath the surface to unearth the real story behind our eating habits and what the food of today says about us:  organic heaven or mass-produced hell?  His favourite recipes are listed to follow:  potted shrimps and devilled kidneys.

I recommend the book to any lover of all things British.  As Tom himself says:  ” Good English food is undoubtedly criminally underrated, not least because so few visitors have actually eaten it.”

This book is available from Random House Books and AmazonContinue reading English Food – enjoy with gusto!

Dr Samuel Johnson: 300th Anniversary of his birth this week

A17 -Samuel_Johnson_by_Joshua_ReynoldsYou know what, I doubt whether he’d even get a column in today’s newspapers. No one would dare hire him. If Dr Johnson were writing in modern Fleet Street, his views would be denounced as utterly outrageous. Foreign ambassadors would be constantly on the Today programme, demanding apologies for the insult done to their country.

Polly Toynbee would be in a state of permanent apoplexy. Any newspaper that dared to print his views would face the wrath of the Equalities Commission. It must be admitted – 300 years after the birth of one of the greatest figures of English literature – that some of his stuff can seem outré to the point of unacceptability.

He is not just sexist. He is not just xenophobic. He is a free-market, monarchy-loving advocate of the necessity of human inequality.

Listen to him bashing the Americans. “Sir, they are a race of convicts, and ought to be thankful for anything we allow them short of hanging.”

Ireland? Worth seeing, but not worth going to see. The French – a dirty bunch, blowing into the spouts of teapots to make them pour properly.

As for the Scots, they are mainly liars who had no cabbage until Cromwell introduced it. They subsist on horse-food, and the finest sight a Scottish person can see is the high road leading to England. Not even Simon Heffer would get away with that kind of Jock-bashing, tongue in cheek
or not.

Samuel Johnson thought the decline in the use of the cane would harm educational attainment. It wasn’t just that he was opposed to women having jobs. He thought it was a bit off for them even to paint or draw. “Public practice of any art, and staring in men’s faces, is very indelicate in a female,” he said; and as for a woman preaching, it “was like a dog walking on its hind legs. It is not done well, but you are surprised to find it done
at all.”

You might find some Daily Telegraph columnists who still think like that – but not in print. And no matter how odd some of us look in our picture bylines, Dr Johnson was positively bizarre.

Continue reading Dr Samuel Johnson: 300th Anniversary of his birth this week

Stanley Johnson Quiz

Stanley is addressing the Windsor Festival on Friday 2nd October and to celebrate this occasion we are giving away a signed copy of his latest autobiographical book.  Just complete the quiz below!

 stanley-johnson3  QUIZ ON THE JOHNSON FAMILY 
 
“Meet the Johnsons”
 
1) What is Stanley Johnson’s greatest political achievement?
 
2) What was the name, nationality and occupation of Stanley’s grandfather?
 
3) When asked what was the source of the Johnson family’s sense of humour, what did Stanley reply?
a)  They all eat raw fish for breakfast.
b)  Their blond hair.
c)  Stanley was visited by aliens when he was a toddler, became a super hero and passed his gifts on to his children.
 
4) What long established tradition was Rachel Johnson responsible for abolishing when she was at Ashdown School?
 
5)  From this list of famous people: Winston Churchill, Jean Cocteau, Margaret Thatcher, Benjamin Disraeli, William Wilberforce and Pericles, select the hero of a) Stanley and b) Boris.
 
6) What sport have Stanley and Boris played together?
 
7) What famous literary award was won recently by Rachel Johnson?
 
8)  From this list of famous films, select the favourite of (a) Stanley and (b) Boris. 
Where Eagles Dare.  Born Yesterday.  Trop Belle Pour Toi.  Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  Jaws.  The Bridges of Madison County.  Dirty Harry.  Chariots of Fire.
 
9)  Stanley Johnson has always firmly believed in the value of a classical education.  Could you therefore give an example of praeteritio, using Boris Johnson’s speeches on the website www.boris-johnson.com as evidence.
 
Extra points will be awarded for a clear definition of the subject, with the most apt examples.
 
10)  How did Stanley choose the name for his first born son, Boris?
 
Have a guess and look forward to hearing from you!
Answers by 30th August 2009 please to: borisanswers@hotmail.com
 
 

Stanley Johnson Book Launch

Stanley I Presume

stanley-johnson3Boris was present at the book launch to mark the publication of his father’s autobiography (up to 40 years old) at Waterstones in Notting Hill Gate last night.  His glamorous sister, Rachel Johnson, interviewed Stanley and we were regaled with side-splittingly funny stories about the Johnson clan.  You have to read this awesome book to hear details about his population control initiative and ‘Pills Grim Progress’, his poetic prowess, solace he found in pollution control, the briefcase he lost off a landrover in a desert containing family passports and flight tickets, that was later found and handed to him with the words:  “Stanley, I presume?”, and many perfectly true and amazing stories from deep and darkest Devon.

This autobiography goes back to Boris’s grandfather, greatgrandfather and King George II.

Stanley *you rock* and now all we need is to read your sequel for 40 years + …

Available from all good bookshops and Amazon.co.uk ISBN:  987-0-00-729672-9

“The Plan: 12 months to renew Britain” by Daniel Hannan MEP and Douglas Carswell MP

The Plan has been written by two young politicians who have discovered first hand how inert is the machinery of the British state, and how intense is the consequent anger on the doorstep.  They offer an analysis of why people are sick and tired of politicians, and what can be done about it.  Douglas Carswell, is the forward-looking MP for Harwich and Clacton, and  Daniel Hannan the firebrand MEP for the South of England.  You can read more about Douglas here and about Dan, here.

Britain is heading in the wrong direction. The British people are giving up on politics and politicians.  The Plan is a book that sets out how to put Britain on the right track again.

The Plan proposes to restore meaning to the ballot box, freedom to the citizen and dignity to Parliament.  It puts forward a radical legislative programme to:

  • – Clean up Westminster
  • – Devolve power to the lowest practicable level
  • – Make Public services work for the people who use them
  • – Bring foreign and domestic policy back in line with public opinion
  • – Replace the quango state with genuine democracy
  • – Refresh our political system through localism and the use of referendums

Douglas and Dan show how a future government could actually shift powers back, from Brussels to Westminster, from Whitehall to town halls, from the state to the citizens.

Things do not have to be as they are. The Plan shows how we can change our country for the better.

The Plan is available ‘from all good bookshops’ from October 6th and the ISBN is: 13-9780955979903 or order your copy direct at: www.Renew-Britain.com

Life in the Fast Lane: The Johnson Guide to Cars

Order Life In The Fast Lane from Amazon now!

Order this new book from Amazon now!

My love affair with the car will never conk out

They have been demonised and are portrayed as a threat to the planet but, says self-confessed speed-freak Boris Johnson, cars are a force for liberty and democracy

For years after that terrible death, I felt a pang every time I pulled into Oxford station.

Boris Johnson: ‘An Englishman’s car used to be his castle, or at least his mobile fort’
There was the scrapyard. There was the grabber with its evil jaws. Whenever I saw it I remembered the T-Rex aggression with which it lurched down on its victim; pausing and juddering as though savouring the moment.

It smashed through the windows, the windscreen, buckling the paper-thin steel. I heard the whine of the crusher and I turned away.

I could not listen to the death agonies of my driving companion, or see the reproachful look in those loyal headlights. Even today I cannot go past that knacker’s yard without bidding peace to its ghost.

A Fiat 128 two-door saloon, 1.2 litres, the Italian Stallion was the trusty steed that emancipated me from the shackles of childhood.

Inside that happy brown plastic cabin, with its curious fungal growth on the roof, there took place all manner of brawls, romance, heartbreak and general growing-up. Above all, it was the car in which I had my first crash.

No one knew how it came to be in the family. My mother claims it was hers, though other sources suggest that my father bought it in Brussels, from a squash opponent called Sue.

It was sitting in the yard one day when my brother Leo and I decided to take it for a ride. Neither of us could drive, but there is a two-mile dirt track that links our farm to the main road, and we felt we could learn.

We lolloped off, groaning in first gear, until finally we reached the main road where the machine stalled and a cloud of steam rose from the bonnet. We had a problem.

We had to turn round, and we couldn’t go on the metalled road, since neither of us had a licence.

But we hadn’t done a turn before and we were aware of another car about 20 yards away.

This obstacle was probably the only other vehicle within five square miles of this bit of under-populated moorland.

With every manoeuvre, we seemed to arc ever closer to the other machine, as if sucked by some fatal magnet. Now our boot was just feet from its bonnet, and it was necessary to reverse.

I had never reversed a car before. The wheels spun in the dust, we shot backwards and, with a smooth easy grace, we shunted the only other car in the district rapidly and deftly into a tree.

When the tinkling had stopped, Leo broke the silence and said: ”Hey, that was great,” speaking for every human being who has ever experienced the thrill of the automobile – the joy of moving far faster than nature intended, by a process you barely understand, and yet somehow surviving.

Continue reading Life in the Fast Lane: The Johnson Guide to Cars

Dream of Rome ~ Turkey

turkeybj.jpg

In a new extract from his brilliant book on Rome, Boris argues that our anxieties about Islam must not jeopardise the reconciliation between East and West

Why are we so afraid of Turkey?

Fragments of plaster are still falling from the ceiling after the Pope made his famous speech about Islam in September 2006.

Hardly anyone had heard of Manuel II Palaeologus, the old codger he quoted with such explosive results. Not many knew that he was the antepenultimate Roman emperor, or that he lived in what is now Istanbul.

But after six centuries of obscurity, Manuel’s views were top of the news.

“Show me what Mohammed brought that was new,” said the Pope in Regensburg, “and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith that he preached.”

That sentence was taken out of context, flashed round the world, and soon there were riots everywhere from Jakarta to Qom.

Continue reading Dream of Rome ~ Turkey

Have I Got Views For You

Have I Got Views For You.JPG

‘Johnson is a good-humoured, entertaining commentator, with an agreeably optimistic bent.’ Observer

‘In a class of his own. Irresistible’ Daily Mail

Synopsis
This book includes some of Lend Me Your Ears.
In his own inimitable style, Boris Johnson turns his attention to the culture, manners and morals of British society, giving us a humorous, at times furious, but always entertaining read. A witty anthology of pieces comprising Boris Johnson’s thoughts on everything from the presidency of Tony Blair to the idiosyncrasies of modern British culture. Focusing on Diana, the age of self-expression, the end of culture, the moment of the Yuppies, and liberty versus freedom, Johnson takes us on a rollercoaster ride through contemporary Britain. He has also interviewed many of the key figures in the political and cultural worlds over the last sixteen years and addresses what these personalities tell of our age. Boris Johnson’s writings have appeared in a variety of British and American magazines and newspapers. Vigorous, idiosyncratic, always intelligent and informed, with a very interesting perspective on our times, “Have I Got Views For You” is a pleasure to read.

You can buy it on Amazon