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The Cafe Idler

The Wheels of Chance

The Wheels of Chance

  It was a tram driver’s strike in Melbourne back in the early Nineties that got me riding a bicycle again as an adult. I was living in Elsternwick that year, one of those old bayside neighbourhoods in the city's inner south. I didn’t own a car but relied instead...

Perry, Della & Paul

Perry, Della & Paul

  Today I am improving my mind with The Case of The Sulky Girl, a Perry Mason mystery. I love these old novels. One of my favourite indulgences on a weekend is filling some pleasantly empty hours with a Perry. It has always been thus, for as long as I can...

Book Review: Fear by Bob Woodward

Book Review: Fear by Bob Woodward

Power is fear according to Donald Trump, in a rather unsettling quote he gave in an interview with Bob Woodward, and which inspired the title of Woodward’s new book on the inner workings of the Trump White House, published just this past week. The book – three quarters of a million copies of which have been sold already – turned Washington on its ear with its revelation of a “soft” administrative coup d’état by Trump’s inner circle who appear to have taken over the running of the country from their Twitter- and TV-obsessed boss.

Dario Pegoretti

Dario Pegoretti

I was startled and saddened last week to read of the sudden death of Dario Pegoretti, a man known to aficionados of fine bicycle frames as one of the world’s great artisan builders, and by all accounts a charming man, a lover of music and one of life’s true bon vivants.  He was only 62. A heart attack.

The Directors Cut

The Directors Cut

Last night I sat down with a bowl of popcorn to watch the special edition the so-called director’s cut, of an old favourite film. I wish I hadn’t. Why do they do it? Spoil a classic by throwing in stuff that was rightly left on the cutting room floor the first time around?

Icons of Architecture

Icons of Architecture

Behold two triumphs of British architecture. The big one, the one with the dome, you’ll hopefully recognise as St Paul’s Cathedral, the 17th century masterpiece of Sir Christopher Wren and one of London’s most recognisable landmarks. The little red one, in the lower right, is nearly as iconic – the classic British telephone kiosk, known as K-2, designed in 1926 by the architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, and is now vanishing rapidly from the landscape.  

Travelling at Home

Travelling at Home

When you travel a great deal, as I do, it becomes far too easy to overlook – or under-appreciate – the intriguing scenes and streetscapes that lie right at your own front door. I live near Hastings, on the south coast of England. It’s a faded old seaside town that, shall we say, doesn’t figure well in government statistics on crime, drug abuse, unemployment and income, and is often presented as being rather a downbeat place. Yet when I go for my bicycle rides each morning along the seafront here, and in neighbouring St Leonards and Bexhill, I’m continually surprised and delighted by the sights I see as a tourist in my own town – and am reminded that beautiful and exotic is not necessarily a function of distance from home.