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Jon Cannon

Jon Cannon is writing a book about English cathedrals. He lives in Wiltshire.

Diary: In Liaoning

Jon Cannon, 5 June 2003

My wife met me off the overnight train from Beijing. ‘It’s been ages,’ she said. ‘Let’s go and have breakfast somewhere.’ How nice, I thought. But breakfast was slow – spun-out slow – and she kept looking at her watch. And when breakfast turned into a boat trip, and a boat trip became a shopping expedition, I began to tire. I was still wearing...

Diary: in Chengdu, China

Jon Cannon, 13 December 2001

This is what time travel must be like. I’m standing on a narrow street in Chengdu, capital of the Chinese province of Sichuan. I first came here in 1985 and memories of that visit are so vivid they compete with reality.

It’s a fresh day in the early spring of 1985. The street is lined by two-storey houses made of timber and roofed with curved, grey tiles; their walls are painted a...

I’m standing at the end of the bridge to North Korea. It stops here at the border, in a riot of twisted metal. Ahead of me the piers march in pairs, on across the Yalu river until they reach the other bank. This bombed-out bridge is a tourist attraction: even now, at the end of a hard winter, a steady trickle of Chinese and South Korean tourists make the walk to the end, where you can have your photo taken with North Korea as a backdrop, or gaze at it through a telescope.

Letter

In Spitalfields

9 October 2003

Sukhdev Sandhu’s article (LRB, 9 October) brought back memories of life in Spitalfields in the 1980s. I ran a local history project at the time, and lived for some of the period in an 18th-century house on Wilkes Street. It still had an outside toilet; the only heating was a woodburning stove in every room. The longest-standing inhabitant, Charlie, was a sitting tenant, and as a result the rent...

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