Exit, Royal Joker

It was, even by the standards of the British royal family, an extraordinary revelation. The Duke of Edinburgh, according to a report by the veteran court correspondent Talbot Church, had been causing more concern than usual in royal circles with his unscripted, off-the-cuff comments. Shortly before Prince William married Kate Middleton in 2011, he had […]

Rock and ageism: a sad old bastard with guitar writes…

Every now and then, perhaps once or twice a month, a new cause for concern is discovered. From some distant campus, a research paper is published which reveals that something we had previously taken for granted is, in fact, deeply worrying. Statistics are produced, researchers quoted in the inevitable press release. Sometimes the little gobbet […]

For a gentler, kinder 2016, it’s time to liberate your inner Corbyn

It is the time of the year when, in homes across the country, moods will be on the turn. The cards, decorations and little lights which, a matter of hours ago, conveyed seasonal jolliness now represent yet another dreary housekeeping task to be completed before the return to work. The pleasure of human company may […]

Drugs, desire and one straight Englishman: a memory of Paris, 1972

The smile was almost the same. Those heavy-lidded dark brown eyes may have become a rather warier over the twenty years since we had last met. The handsome black face was a little more lined, but still conveyed interest, affection, mild amusement. It was my old friend Pierre’s front teeth that were different. He had […]

A confession: I give bad tweet

The bullfinch, a charming bird, has an apologetic song. While others in the hedgerow chatter, chortle and remonstrate, the bullfinch is usually heard in the form of an occasional one-note tweet. It prefers not to draw attention to itself with showy communication. In the human world of social networking, where the chattering, chortling and remonstrating […]

They don’t go over the top Down Under

It is a big Australian party, but not quite what an outsider would expect. In a Sydney park, there is an evening concert: carols, local youth groups, the cast of Tap Dogs, a Kylie (but not the Kylie). Wearing little Santa hats and jackets, families set up their picnics in the sunny afternoon, turning the […]

A protest worth making if you care about our landscape

When governments speak warm words about consulting the public it is sensible to be wary. The word “choice” will not be far away and, as the Thatcher years proved, the apparently harmless idea of offering consumer choice can be the magic key that opens the door to deregulation and a financial free-for-all. It is big […]

The good that comes from revolt

Between those who march and those who instinctively distrust mass protest, there lies the great supine majority. We like the idea that others are prepared to put up with the cold, the discomfort and the possibility of being cracked over the head by a police baton, and support the idea of protest, safely, from our […]

What if Bilo made a film about us?

What if Bilo made a film about us? Like many successful films, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan has inspired a sequel. The more simply named My Brother Borat will shortly be released, and its director, Erkin Rakishev, is to make a promotional visit to Britain this weekend.  The […]