John Milton was born 400 years ago in Bread Street close to where my wife and I live today. Last night, we went to a lecture about his life and the influence of the City of London on his religion, politics and poetic writings. Half the people in the audience were A-level students for whom Milton's work has been reinstated in the curriculum after an absence of at least a generation (or so I'm told and if incorrect, please let me know). Anna Beer's lecture, based on her recent biography of Milton, conjured images of the City as the centre of feverish exchanges of information, debate, gossip, intrigue and ideas at a time of approaching civil war, the beheading of a king, the establishment of a republic, then the restoration of the monarchy..and debauchery. Our modern political tragedy it seems to me is that elected politicians nearly 400 years ago were able to rid the country of absolute monarchy, whereas today our elected politicians seem only too happy to bestow many of those powers on the leaders of their parties. It was true of the Conservatives and its certainly has been of the Labour Party. Progress lost.