As well as clearing my study, an unending and thankless task, I have been catching up on some reading, including, today, Gillian Darley’s excellent account of Ian Nairn, Words in Place, which I bought when it came out and have now finally read. I thought that I knew about Nairn as a long-term enthusiast for his two guidebooks to London and Paris. But there is more to him than I had realised, most especially, the curious and egregious, but wholly admirable, cockiness, which led him, with absolutely no qualifications, except half a mathematics degree and a period in the RAF, to join the Architectural Review and produce Outrage in 1955 which condemned all aspects of suburban sprawl – what he called subtopia – with more authority and effectiveness than the combined force of all the Shell Guides. And I didn’t know about his long, three-month road trip round the States in 1959 in a 1952 Plymouth soft top, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, which led to the publication of The American Landscape: A Critical View in 1965. Nor did I know the extent to which his enthusiasm for pubs and their contents led to an early decline, sacking by the Sunday Times, and a Pimlico death.