Monica Porter

Monica Porter is a journalist and author. Her latest book is A History of Europe in 12 Cafes.

The London of my youth is gone

I fell in love with London when I arrived here as a teenager at the start of the 1970s. Straight out of an American suburban high school, I’d dreamed of the great metropolis of Shakespeare and Dickens, and I vowed never to leave. Why would I, when, as Dr Samuel Johnson famously declared, ‘He who

How Viktor Orbán plans to ‘Make Europe Great Again’

Hungary has just begun its presidency of the Council of the EU, as part of the member states’ six-monthly rotation process. Unsurprisingly, prime minister Viktor Orbán is all keyed up for the challenge. For years the bureaucrats of Brussels have tried to force the stubbornly contrary PM to change his ways, withholding billions of euros

Patience is running out with Nato in the Baltic states

You can’t miss the vast banner emblazoned on the high-rise building overlooking central Vilnius. It reads: PUTIN, THE HAGUE IS WAITING FOR YOU. Not one to mince their words, the Lithuanians. And neither are the Latvians or Estonians. In the face of an increasingly menacing Kremlin, the Baltic states – on Nato’s front line against

Why I’ve quit every club I joined

The famous Flyfishers’ Club, Britain’s oldest fly-fishing club, is the latest male bastion to have the fair sex banging at the door. Women feel they have been unjustly excluded throughout its 193-year history, and now they want in. Seeing as the Garrick has at last buckled to the demand to admit women, they say the

A boomer’s guide to Gen Z slang

I recently had the pleasure of spending some time with my two teenage grandsons, who live in Dorset – 16-year-old Dylan and Isaac, who is 14. Listening to them chatting with their friends, I slowly realised that, half the time, I hadn’t a clue what they were on about. Peculiar words I’d never heard before

The quandary of being half-Jewish

I was in my early twenties when I found out that I’m half-Jewish. Until then, as far as I was aware, I was merely a lapsed Catholic embracing the secular life. (I abandoned the faith at the age of ten; my Catholic mother didn’t seem to mind.) My father, as I understood it, was Protestant.

Is Viktor Orbán really anti-Semitic?

Much of the criticism directed at Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s long-serving populist prime minister, is richly deserved. Orbán poses as the bête noire of the EU, despite Hungary being a net recipient of EU largesse. Another source of the opprobrium directed against Orbán is his opposition to aiding Ukraine in its existential war against Russia. This

The remarkable story of my mother, the heroine of the Holocaust

I’ve always loathed Russia: its regime, its remnants of enduring Stalin-worship, its rulers’ century of malign influence on the world. The cold-blooded autocrat Vladimir Putin, whose invasion of Ukraine is all too redolent of the USSR, is succeeding in his aim of shattering the security and stability of Europe. I watch clips of Putin addressing