Business or pleasure?

(Tate Etc. Summer 2009)

In his first visit to the Tate archive, Travis Elborough finds his mind going pleasurably adrift over a photograph of two unidentified men by the seaside found amid Francis Bacon’s archives…


The Guardian (Saturday 5 July 2008)

The vinyl LP has been pronounced dead over and over again – with the birth of cassettes, then CDs, and most recently digital downloads – yet tens of thousands are still made each week. Travis Elborough takes comfort in new signs of life for his beloved shiny black discs…


Britons renew their love of seaside resorts as cost of holidays abroad soars

The Observer (Sunday 18 July 2010)

The retro charms of British coastal resorts – from sticks of rock to Punch and Judy shows – are luring holidaymakers who can’t afford to fly away to foreign shores.

We do genuinely like to be beside our seaside. After years of cheap flights, when foreign travel became little more taxing (and perhaps not much more exciting) than sending an email halfway round the world, a report from the Office for National Statistics last week confirmed a marked decline in Britons holidaying abroad…


Fiction Uncovered: “Offshore – Penelope Fitzgerald”

If there was ever a novel that really deserves to be called a neglected classic, a dubious accolade at the best of times anyway, it is Offshore (1979) by Penelope Fitzgerald. During her lifetime Fitzgerald, who didn’t even begin to write novels until she was nearly of pensionable age, was never short of distinguished champions, nor lacking in literary awards. And since her death in 2000, the likes of Julian Barnes, A. S. Byatt, Philip Hensher, Jan Morris and the list goes on, have all saluted her as one of England’s greatest writers.  But their endorsements seem to have been largely in vain for while most of her novels remain in print, she continues, tragically, to be woefully unread, or stubbornly undiscovered, by the book buying public at large…


Slightly Foxed: “Fantastic Mr Fox”

This month’s taste of Slightly Foxed is Travis Elborough onFantastic Mr Fox, chosen to celebrate Roald Dahl’s birthday last week.

Encountering Roald Dahl in covetable, tactile Puffin paperbacks as a child in the 1970s, I suspect I was too wrapped up in the tales themselves to give their actual titles much consideration. Curious as I was – and I was a curious child in every sense of the word – I took it on trust that a book called The Magic Finger would simply feature a digit with special powers. And indeed it did. Ditto with oversized fruit and someone called James in James and the Giant Peach. And I recall being mildly disappointed that the factory in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was not fashioned solely from chocolate. Now that literalism strikes me as peculiarly wonderful. And, in retrospect, it seems completely bound up in my enjoyment as a young boy of what was far and away my favourite Dahl title: Fantastic Mr Fox – a book that continues to colonize my consciousness, if in rather bastardized form…