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Book review: Nairn's London by Ian Nairn

Nairn’s brilliantly witty and astute observations on London’s built heritage from Uxbridge to Dagenham or, as he put it, a list of his ‘subjective maunderings’. First published in 1966 Nairn was spot on when he said that ‘what London needs is a new Nash’ who can see beyond tawdry speculation. We didn’t get one though. Just go down to Canary Wharf and weep at the lost opportunities to inject some humanity into the place. This book may be nearly 50 years old but it’s still on the money.

Film review: Paddington

Pitching up at Paddington Station the little Peruvian bear (no less adorable for being CGI) takes refuge with the Brown family and proceeds to wreck havoc on their house whilst working his magic on the uptight father and sulky teenage daughter. The fabulous real life cast includes Hugh Bonneville (Dad), Sally Hawkins (Mum) and a magnificently malevolent taxidermist played by Nicole Kidman. Paints a scrumptious, good hearted portrait of multi-culti London. I don’t suppose Mr Farage will enjoy it then.

Radio 4: War and Peace

A luxurious ten hours of politics, rivalry, death, mayhem and philosophy courtesy of Radio 4’s adaption of War and Peace. If you were too hung over for the new year’s day mammoth all day performance then find a space in your diary, refuse all engagements and binge on this fabulous realisation of Tolstoy’s most ambitious work about Russia’s awakening in the early 1800’s.

Book review: Better by Atul Gawande

Gawande’s sparkling anecdotal prose is skilfully employed in making complex medical dilemmas engaging and lucid to the lay reader. Over the course of eleven essays Gawande looks at issues such as hand washing in hospitals, polio outbreaks in India, why we should be troubled by the rise in caesarean births and the ethical implications for doctors becoming involved in capital punishment. A wise, humane and riveting read underscored by one simple question: what does it take to be good at something when failure is so easy? Wonderful.

Film Review: The Hundred-Foot Journey

The Kadam family relocate their Indian restaurant run by son and hotshot chef Hassan, from Mumbai, India to Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in the south of France; just a hundred-feet away from the local competition, Michelin star restaurant ‘Le Saule Pleureur'. Culinary warfare ensues. A rom-com for foodies directed by Lasse Hallström (Chocolat) with scenes that could be taken from a painting by Renoir. Slow-paced, predictable and cheesy. But salvaged by some charming qualities to boot: the winning combination of screen legends Helen Mirren and Om Puri, a stunning setting in scenic south of France, and a few subtle moments of truth. And keep an eye out for the gourmand Mayor played by Michel Blanc. Perfect for inflight viewing.