My cottage is what estate agents used to call 'bijou'. Apart from certain crab-like manouevres required to go from room to room upstairs, living here means adopting a very ergonomically-led lifestyle. None more so than in the kitchen, where everything has to be neatly in its place, or I end up sliding fried eggs up off the floor and slicing bread on the gas hob. Imagine then my horror yesterday evening as I stood in my living room and heard a noise not unlike sixty tons of scrap metal being tipped-out of a lorry through my kitchen window. I didn't rush in, thinking I would be overwhelmed with old dustbins and iron bedsteads. I waited until the noise had subsided and then cautiously poked my head round the door. All that had happened is that my cooking utensils rack had decided to flee from the wall with the attendant noise that only colanders, seives, bottle openers and an Ikea alarm clock can make when hitting a table, floor, cooker and 'worktop'. Of course I put it all down to an aftershock of last week's earthquake, but my son-in-law tells me that my cast iron griddle and chestnut roaster positioned at one end, and the fact that I'd used entirely the wrong screws and rawlplugs, didn't help. Do you need to know all this? Probably not, but the resultant heap of shiny objects was somehow reminiscent of the poster, sans ashes and broken dolls, used for Len Deighton's book Bomber.
I am a designer, writer and photographer who spends all his time looking at England, particularly buildings and the countryside. But I have a leaning towards the slightly odd and neglected, the unsung elements that make England such an interesting place to live in. I am the author and photographer of over 25 books, in particular Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2006), More from Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2007), Cross Country (Wiley 2011), The Cigarette Papers (Frances Lincoln 2012) and Preposterous Erections (Frances Lincoln 2012)