Ian Thomson

The morning after a bombing raid on Coventry (Photo: Getty)

Shock and awe in Coventry, 14 November 1940

21 November 2015 9:00 am

On 14 November 1940, at seven in the evening, the Luftwaffe began to bomb Coventry. The skyline turned red like…

View of the Bay of Naples, 1832

The delights and dangers of the Grand Tour

21 November 2015 9:00 am

The Grand Tour usually culminated with Naples, ragamuffin capital of the Italian south, where Vesuvius offered a visual education in…

The Shepperton surrealist: J.G. Ballard outside his house

Modernity, whisky and cats: the J.G. Ballard I knew

10 October 2015 9:00 am

That cinema is having another Ballardian moment will surprise few fans. J.G. Ballard, who died of cancer in 2009 at…

Transatlantic grandeur: A Cunard liner in 1932

Notes on cruising

3 October 2015 8:00 am

By the end of my ten-day Atlantic crossing to New York, a new wellbeing seemed to radiate from me. Lulled…

Out of focus lights

When flower power turned sour

12 September 2015 9:00 am

Aldous Huxley reported his first psychedelic experience in The Doors of Perception (1954), a bewitching little volume that soon became…

James Rhodes (Photo: Getty)

Sound and fury — the pianist James Rhodes is very angry indeed

20 June 2015 9:00 am

Ours is the era of everybody’s autobiography. Bookshops groan with misery-lit memoirs — Never Let Me Go, Dysfunction Without Tears…

San Domenico church, Palermo

Palermo: city of jasmine and dark secrets

6 June 2015 9:00 am

The Arabs invaded Sicily in the ninth century, leaving behind mosques and pink-domed cupolas. In the Sicilian capital of Palermo,…

Italy’s highest-paid heart-throb, Mastroianni as Guido Anselmi, a film director in ‘creative limbo’

How Fellini made his modernist masterpiece

11 April 2015 9:00 am

Ian Thomson on the creative limbo that spawned Fellini’s modernist masterpiece, 8½

Bus Conductor

'I will call the police!': My close encounter with 'revenue protection'

4 April 2015 9:00 am

Conversations with a ticket inspector on the Norwich train

Shots Fired At Santa Monica College

Black-on-black murder was ignored by the LAPD as ‘no human involved’ — until one of their number decided to get involved

21 March 2015 9:00 am

Los Angeles ghetto life — thrashed, twisted and black — is not a world that most Americans care to visit.…

Self confessed mass murderer Anders Breivik Photo: Getty

Anders Breivik: a moronic knight is called to arms

14 March 2015 9:00 am

In 2011, Anders Breivik murdered 69 teenagers in a socialist summer camp outside the Norwegian capital of Oslo, and eight…

Chico, Harpo and Groucho Marx (left to right) enjoy a day at the races

What unites Churchill, Dali and T.S. Eliot? They all worshipped the Marx Brothers

10 January 2015 9:00 am

Ian Thomson celebrates the anarchic genius of Groucho and his brothers

Bob Marley Performs On Stage

Bob Marley: from reggae icon to Marlboro Man of marijuana

29 November 2014 9:00 am

From reggae icon to Marlboro Man of marijuana

Drummers at a graveside wear white, based on Ethiopian orthodox funeral traditions

Death wears bling: the glory of London’s Caribbean funerals

29 November 2014 9:00 am

Death is big business in parts of the Caribbean. In the Jamaican capital of Kingston, funeral homes with their plastic…

Italian partisans who helped South African troops entering Pistoia in Italy to ferret out German snipers Photo: Getty

The woman who invented the Italian resistance

8 November 2014 9:00 am

Italo Calvino, the Italian arch-fabulist, wrote a foreword to this celebrated wartime diary when it appeared in Italy in 1956.…


Wave goodbye to the weight-gaining, drunk-driving Inspector Wallander

11 October 2014 9:00 am

Some years ago I met the Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell at the Savoy Hotel in London, where he was…

A member of the London Home Guard demonstrates the use of old wallpaper as camouflage (1942)

The real Dad’s Army was no joke

30 August 2014 9:00 am

Dad’s Army, the sitcom to end all sitcoms, portrayed the Home Guard as often doddery veterans. In one episode, Private…


I proposed to my wife in Haiti. Soon I won't be able to recognise it

16 August 2014 9:00 am

This summer, I returned to Haiti for the first time in ten years. I was itching to see how the…

Kingston Crowds Wait For Haile Selassie I

Why I’m now scared of book clubs

12 July 2014 9:00 am

Writing frankly about Jamaica has made me nervous of invitations from strangers. How would this one turn out?

Slaves planting cane cuttings in Antigua, 1823, by William Clark

Only tourists think of the Caribbean as a ‘paradise’

28 June 2014 9:00 am

A couple of years ago in Jamaica, I met Errol Flynn’s former wife, the screen actress Patrice Wymore. Reportedly a…

Viv Albertine (left) on stage with The Slits Photo: Redferns

The punk who inspired a generation of British woman to pick up a guitar

21 June 2014 9:00 am

Viv Albertine is deservedly famous as the guitarist of the tumultuous, all-female English punk band The Slits. Their debut album,…

Saris in 'Little India', Southall

Narcotically-induced mischief in an urban wasteland

7 June 2014 9:00 am

Fifteen minutes by rail from Paddington, Southall is a ‘Little India’ in the borough of Ealing. An ornate Hindu temple…

Jonathan Meades Photo: Getty

Exclamation marks, no; aertex shirts, yes!

10 May 2014 9:00 am

Jonathan Meades, the architectural, food and cultural commentator, appears on television in a pair of retro shades and a trademark…

The sober-suited Georgie with Elsa . ‘She wore fur coats fashioned from brown river rat’

Jorge Luis Borges and his ‘bitch’

3 May 2014 9:00 am

Ian Thomson on a miserable mismatch that became the talk of Buenos Aires in the Sixties

Edmund White says that the first time he met Bruce Chatwin (pictured), they had sex immediately Photo: Getty

Gay Paree: food, feuds and phalluses – I mean, fallacies

15 March 2014 9:00 am

In his preface to The Joy of Gay Sex (revised and expanded third edition), Edmund White praises the ‘kinkier’ aspects…