I can't remember if I had any plans for the twenty-first century. I was already 52 when it arrived. But events raced off in such unexpected directions that any possible ideas must have gone out the window. Many of us shared the sensation that history was speeding up. Recording dizzying changes in culture and politics, these essays range in subject from the photographer Lee Miller to the Archbishop of Canterbury, from the actress Sarah Bernhardt to the rapist Jimmy Saville, from a celebration of Mad Men to a diagnosis of the incoherence of Conservatism in the new century. The poems, in contrast, are private: tender meditations, filled with love, memory, vulnerability and the melancholy of ageing.