Jonathan Meades

Jonathan Meades’s Pedro and Ricky Come Again: Selected Writing came out in 2021. His novel Empty Wigs is due in 2025.

In my piece the architect Oliver Hill is described as a ‘versatile naturalist’. He may well have been. However, what I wrote was ‘versatile naturist’ – which he certainly was.

Higher Ordinariness: Poor Surrey

Jonathan Meades, 23 May 2024

In​ 1993 the soothsayer John Major advised that fifty years hence Britain ‘will still be the country of long shadows on county grounds, warm beer, invincible green suburbs, dog lovers and pools fillers’. Still? That suggests these properties were extant in 1993. And maybe they were, somewhere. The optimist premier equated country with county, with his native patch, Surrey, where...

Let’s go to Croydon

Jonathan Meades, 13 April 2023

Castlefield with Beetham Tower, Manchester.

‘Long ago in 1945 all the nice people in England were poor, allowing for exceptions.’ The London that Muriel Spark describes in The Girls of Slender Means – ‘buildings in bad repair or in no repair at all, bombsites piled with stony rubble, houses like giant teeth in which decay had been drilled out, leaving only the...

Listen to Jonathan Meades introduce and read this piece on the LRB Podcast

Asneaked photograph​ from the earliest years of this century shows the teenage prodigy Wayne Rooney leading his parents out of the sea on a Mexican beach. They are about to move into an unknown world, where they will, all three, lurch from idolisation to easy prey, from objects of pity to mean-spirited envy – the...

Blighted Plain: Wiltshire’s Multitudes

Jonathan Meades, 6 January 2022

In​ his introduction to the first edition of The Buildings of England: Wiltshire (1963), Nikolaus Pevsner wrote with barely contained anger that

Wiltshire would be as wonderful as it must have been in Hardy’s, in Hudson’s and in Jefferies’s days, if the army, and more recently the air force, had not got hold of it. As it is, the army is up in Salisbury Plain with towns of...

Lists​ make us feel better. They take the uncertainty and messiness of life and spray it with a sense of purpose. On low days, I sometimes write to-do lists of tasks I have already done and put...

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Meades is our greatest exponent of what the Russian Formalists called ostranenie, ‘making-strange’.

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