All the articles posted on this website can be found here, organised in chronological sequence according to their date of writing or first publication.
Hardware store, Marfa, Texas, 22 January 2004
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On the National Trust and its management, or otherwise, of Sutton House in Hackney. This article was written as part of a local campaign to shame the National Trust into taking better care of a property that is not actually in the ‘East End’ of London, although we placed it there for rhetorical effect. The Trust responded briskly under its Chairman Dame Jennifer Jenkins, and was soon displaying a lavishly restored Sutton House as proof of what could be done with inner city properties. Having employed my analysis of the post-war rise of the country house to this practical purpose within the conservation movement, I would be irritated when it was later suggested that the critique of country house ‘heritage’ was sourced in misogynist contempt for flowery decor and lavendar bags (see my rather bad-tempered review of Raphael Samuel’s Theatres of Memory, also available in this strand). Published in the Guardian, 1 August 1987, p. 17. Thanks to Richard Gott for the title.
I visited a number of British business schools while working for the National Council for Voluntary Organisations in the nineteen eighties, and found two books in particular turning up in conversation. One was Martin Wiener’s English Culture and the Decline of the Industrial Spirit 1850-1980, which argued that aristocratic values had stifled entrepreneurialism in modern Britain. The other was In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best Run Companies – a US bestseller promoting a creed that would play a decisive role in British life over the decade to come. This article was my first attempt to track the course of ‘Excellence’ as it reached into British public life. Published in the London Review of Books, 21 May 1987.