Walking with Simon Armitage

The next Poet Laureate Simon Armitage went on a walk, leaning on the hospitality of strangers and saying poems out loud for his keep. I went with him. The wandering poet is exhausted. “It’s hot out there,” says Simon Armitage, his famously boyish fringe plastered to his forehead by sweat. His cheeks are red withContinue reading “Walking with Simon Armitage”

Listening to Henry Allingham, the boy who saw the Somme from the air: “Those were my pals.”

Henry Allingham saw WG Grace bat. He saw the battle of the Somme from the air in an aircraft made of wood, cloth and wire. He was the oldest man in the country when I met him in 2007 and he lived to be the oldest man in the world, dying just over a yearContinue reading “Listening to Henry Allingham, the boy who saw the Somme from the air: “Those were my pals.””

“When they talk about the war, will they remember me?” A last interview with the remarkable Dame Vera Lynn

Softly, with a voice that is still clear after all these years, Dame Vera Lynn begins to sing. “For a little bit of heaven fell, from out the sky one day …” She is 97 now and rather frail, the light from the window making a halo of her finespun white hair. But some ofContinue reading ““When they talk about the war, will they remember me?” A last interview with the remarkable Dame Vera Lynn”

Zaha Hadid: Farewell to the Starchitect

Sad to hear of the sudden death of Dame Zaha Hadid, superstar of architecture, design genius and hugely formidable character. We met in her London office just before the 2012 Olympics, for which she designed the magnificent Aquatic Centre. Here is that encounter, as it appeared in The Sunday Telegraph, in tribute to a womanContinue reading “Zaha Hadid: Farewell to the Starchitect”

Face To Face With The Body Of Nelson Mandela

So the long journey is nearly over. The body of Nelson Mandela will be buried at last today, in the village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape, the place he always thought of as home. Security will be tight and the location is remote. For most South Africans, the last chance to say a personal goodbyeContinue reading “Face To Face With The Body Of Nelson Mandela”