Great Britain

The Middle Of The Middle Of The Road

Are out tastes becoming blander? Are we getting less adventurous? I happened to glance at the London Times’ arts section and found their weekly full-page ads for concerts. The breadth of imagination on display would fit through the eye of a needle. A grisly lineup of ‘Rule Britannia’, ‘Land of Hope and Glory’, fireworks, waltzes, very […]

America’s New International Role: Public Enemy

  It’s not usually what state visits are used for, but then the POTUS doesn’t go for usual. On his first presidential visit to the UK (primarily to open the so-called Fortress of Solitude, a bombproof embassy that has a moat) he’s announced no confidence in our PM and has instead nominated Boris Johnson, as […]

A Walk Through…Cardiff

I was all prepared for my event in Wales, courtesy of Cardiff Central Libraries and WF Howes. I’d packed everything I needed including notes, a sweater, laptop, iPad and assorted tech-junk, only to spend the journey reading ‘Selling Hitler’ by Robert Harris (the story of the fake Hitler diaries). I arrived to find Cardiff sweltering […]

The Strange Story Of Keeping Calm & Carrying On

I’m in Barcelona listening to a Spanish song on the radio, which has as part of its chorus; ‘Keep Calm & Carry On’, such is the international fame of this simple little phrase. How on earth did it conquer Europe (and who knows, other parts of the world) so ubiquitously? It started out as a […]

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 […]