Great Britain

Creativity Versus Fish

It happened again last week. Someone threw the example of the fishing industry at me in their argument for Brexit. Passion always overrides the facts; they had passion. I had facts. I knew I would lose, because nobody wants facts thrown at them. They only confuse people; look at Mr Trump. So, a few facts. […]

Our Friends In The North

You know the North, it’s where all the bad people live. ‘Winter is Coming’. France is stuck with Brittany, Spain with the Basques. But whisper the heresy…in England it’s not actually very grim up North. The weather yes, obviously, but it seems to me that many Northern writers got stuck with a hometown tag they […]

Patriotism & Me

Recently a good friend of this site asked if I was too Londoncentric, and thinking about this led to a bigger question about patriotism. We live in divisively patriotic times. Putin is attempting wholesale western disruption in the name of Mother Russia. The US President’s risky me-first strategy will either start a trade war that […]

In Praise Of Middle England

The above photograph from Winchester sums it up. It’s leafy and empty, there’s a statue of King Alfred and a branch of Fired Earth, the upmarket glazed tile shop, and somewhere out of sight a round table dedicated to a mythical king. Welcome to Middle England. It’s  not a place like the Midlands or even […]

The Sixties Return In March

They say if you can remember the sixties you weren’t there. I wasn’t. By which I mean I was at school, and being a tiresomely studious child I knew absolutely nothing about what was going on in certain select (ie wealthy) parts of London. The heady smell of patchouli and dope, the sounds of the […]

The Year I Finally Lost Faith In British Politics

There had been times before; notably, when Edward Heath’s electability as Prime Minister hung on his ability to win a yacht race for the electorate, and again when the grey accountant John Major filled the country with red tape-bound middle managers. And who could forget Gordon Brown, fine as a best supporting actor but useless […]

Into The Future: What’s Coming Up

At this time of the year newspapers are full of predictions; Nitrate-free bacon is coming! And highways of driverless cars! And miraculous medical advances! Sadly, most of them not in my lifetime but maybe in yours. When technology geared up for the next great leap forward none of us realised that its two biggest manifestations, […]

Blind Luck

The National Health Service was well in place in Britain before I was born. I was an NHS baby, an NHS kid, an NHS adult. In the 1970s the system went into crisis for all the usual reasons – underfunding, mismanagement, endless reorganisations. In the 1990s it went through another one, overloading itself with managers […]

Witches In England

The other night I once more attended an Authors’ Club Halloween meeting at the National Liberal Club, founded in 1882 by William Ewart Gladstone, one of those grand portrait-filled establishments where you have to wear a jacket and only members can use the bar. Speaking with me was the writer Syd Moore, who cleverly trades […]

Author On Tour 2

It was a glorious summery day yesterday in Somerset, which was just as well as it involved about seven hours’ travel to attend a literary festival in Yeovil. The oddest part of this already odd job is the juxtapositions it throws up. So, squeezed into a taxi with Michael Portillo and Mark Billingham (both big […]