British Banks, Brexit and ISIS Money

The chief executive of JP Morgan, the world’s biggest bank, wrote in his annual letter to the bank’s shareholders that Brexit ‘cannot possibly’ be a positive for the UK economy in the short-term, and warned that the bank may eventually move all of its European operations out of London. Jamie Dimon added that in the […]

Dylan, Dublin and a Pint of Guinness

Arthur Guinness signed a long lease on a disused brewery at St James’s Gate in Dublin in 1759 and began brewing the frothy dry stout that would make his fortune. His formula was to blend malted barley with unmalted roasted barley and add a pinch of ‘aged’ brew to the fresh concoction. The result was […]

HOW TO WRITE A BOOK PROPOSAL TO SELL YOUR BOOK

Publishers do not read books. They read proposals. A good book proposal has to be dynamic, fast, a rich tasting hors d’oeuvre that persuades editors to hit the reply on their laptop and ask for the full three course meal of your manuscript. A proposal has 6 essential elements:     Outline About the Author Related Books […]

The Good Samaritan Ruined My Life

This is the story of the Good Samaritan. A foreigner travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho was set upon by thieves who beat him and stole his clothes. A Jewish priest and a Levite crossed the road and passed on by without helping.   Then a fellow from Samaria came along. He helped the beaten man, […]

Writing by Hand

Writing by hand in the days of keyboards has become an art form, an anachronism, even an act of anarchy. When you write with a pencil you can smell the graphite, with a pen the resins, wax and precious oils. The words as they loop across the page awaken something emotional and vaguely nostalgic. For […]

This Land is Your Land

When Jennifer Lopez sang ‘This Land is Your Land’ at the inauguration ceremony for new President Joe Biden, she was channelling Woody Guthrie’s belief in fair play and decency, in democracy, in the truth. His guitar carried the message: This machine kills fascists.  Guthrie wrote ‘This Land is Your Land’ in 1940 in response to […]

How To TAKE BACK CONTROL

When the miners went on strike to stop colliery closures in 1984, Mrs Thatcher wanted to take back control. She fought the miners with police batons and rhetoric, closed the pits and announced that there was no such thing as society. She pushed for the breakup of the welfare state and was eager to sell […]

Can We Save The Elephants?

    The grasslands and forests of India and Sri Lanka are disappearing. It is not unusual to see elephants rummaging for food in seas of garbage. In Africa, elephants face poachers and trophy hunters as their habitat turns to dust and concrete. The photograph of an elephant carrying an exhausted lion cub to safety during […]

Love at First Sight

After forging his birth certificate at seventeen, my father joined the Royal Navy and spent six years as a gunner on a battleship. Mates the same age died in his arms. He came out of the war feeling lucky to have survived and determined to have a happy life. My mother at fourteen was evacuated […]

Black, Female and as Mad as Hell

Salaria Kea worked as a nurse at Harlem Hospital in New York. Most of the patients were black, like her. Most of the senior doctors were white. One day when Salaria and a group of nurses were eating lunch, three white doctors came in. One of them demanded they give up their table. This was […]

We Shall Pass

We Shall Pass is a novel set during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), my statement as a writer, the book I’d like to be remembered for. I started researching and writing notes for We Shall Pass twenty years ago. I travelled to the battle sites across Spain, read the history from both sides and worked […]

Bob Dylan’s Secrets of Success

Success is illusive, fragile, hard to pin down, describe or quantify. Bob Dylan said, ‘A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.’ The hard part is knowing exactly what you want to do and whether […]

Hunger is a Political Weapon

Allowing school children to go hungry is immoral, disgraceful, a political strategy. A weapon of war. ‘More than four million children in Britain are growing up in poverty,’ according to Louise Tickle, The Guardian, February 2020. ‘Levels of food insecurity in Britain are among the highest in Europe.’ Hunger scars you for life. People too […]