IN AGADIR I STOLE A LEMON

In Agadir I stole a lemon. It had toppled from the pyramid on a market stall where an old man lost in thought sat stroking his grey beard. The lemon had rolled a few feet away. I picked it up and should have put it back on the pile. I didn’t. I tossed it from […]

THAT IS THE CHOICE GOD HELP US

We are trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea. Excuse the cliché. That is the choice. God help us. The tricky, smooth-talking devilish three-quarter billionaire and former American Green Card holder Rishi Sunak and the deeply out-of-her-depth, obnoxiously silly and profoundly dull Liz Truss. Following in the footsteps of war leader Winston Churchill, […]

HE SHOULD BE IN PRISON

Rishi Sunak should not be racing to be Prime Minister. He should be in prison. Such is the quality of the eight candidates who have set their sights on No 10. With his wife Akshata Murty, Sunak at 42 is worth an eye-watering £730 million – a sum beyond the vision or imagination of the […]

THE FOURTH MAN

Nobody remembers the fourth man in the Olympics. Or the climbers who followed Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay to the peak of Everest. Who took to the stage at the Royal Ballet after Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn?   In the 2012 Olympics, Mo Farah won gold in the 10,000 metres. He went on to win the 5,000 metres […]

IT’S NOT DARK YET

Afdera Fonda knew everyone. She was the daughter of Baron Raimondo Franchetti, the explorer and ambassador to Abyssinia considered the one man who could unite the North African tribes behind the Axis Powers in the Second World War. The bomb that killed him in a plane flying from Cairo to Addis Ababa had been planted […]

PUTIN’S WAR MUST GO ON

Putin’s war must go on if he is to achieve his long-term and widely misunderstood intentions. Had Russia set out solely to seize Ukraine, destroying its infrastructure would have been an absurd and reckless policy costing decades and billions in reconstruction. But the land battle is secondary to Putin’s goal to demoralise the west and […]

NOBODY TELLS THE TRUTH

Nobody tells the truth in politics because people only listen to what they want to hear. And politicians only say what advisers tell them the people want to hear. Lies corrode like rust. We – the voter, the optimist, the bloke with his elbow on the pub bar – hang on to illusions … Take […]

3 KEY ELEMENTS OF A GREAT SHORT STORY

The 3 elements of a great short story are character, plot and setting.  Shorts are a puzzle the reader probably won’t work out until the last paragraph. They weave fine lines more than broad strokes. Short stories make use of suggestion, atmosphere, the subtly implied gesture. Every word is a soldier ant carrying twice its own […]

BOB DYLAN FOREVER YOUNG

When Bob Dylan inspires us to stay forever young, he is not pondering the ageing process. You can’t hold back the hands of the clock. A fresh ring appears every year on the tree. The map of our face is being redrawn constantly by life and its myriad experiences.  On the surface, Forever Young is […]

RULE BY DIVINE RIGHT

In the early days of exploration and conquest, a strong leader would seize new lands and make himself king. He would raise his flag over the vanquished and rule by divine right. Holy men travel in the shadow of kings to proclaim the slaughter Holy War and draw up official documents to legitimise the new […]

NEVER TRUST A TORY

Never Trust a Tory is not an unreasonable attack, fake news, a cliché. It is an incontrovertible fact that takes us back to 1979 and Mrs Thatcher’s assault on society – which, she said, did not exist. With her close adviser Nicholas Ridley, Mrs Thatcher agreed to a strategy to abolish the NHS that became known […]

THE SECOND SEX MORE RELEVANT THAN EVER

With their bonnets and frills, slender legs and empty smiles, Queen Letizia of Spain and the Duchess of Cambridge are the poster girls for the second sex. The ideals of equality and emancipation women have struggled to achieve for centuries is swept away like a handful of dust every time they slip into their stilettos […]

SUICIDAL TENDENCIES

Writers are prone to suicidal tendencies. In fact, more than other creatives, the man and woman of letters is ’10 to 20 times more likely than his contemporaries to suffer manic depression.’ If you want to cheer yourself up, you can read all about it in Touched With Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament, by Kay […]

HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT WORD

If you want to find the right word, stop looking. It will find you. Words don’t like being prodded about. They want to be left alone. They mingle in dusty corners, conspiring to keep the lost word hidden. They appear – when they appear – like the evening primrose that blooms in the dark when […]

MARQUIS de SADE – LIFE OF DEBAUCHERY

The Marquis de Sade plucked reluctant virgins, debauched serving girls, beat his wife, practised sodomy and wrote stories featuring rape, incest, necrophilia, torture and bestiality. He was also a war hero, lent his name to the word sadism and practically invented the erotic genre. More two hundred years after his death in 1814, the Marquis de […]

MESSAGE FOR THE RED WALL

This is a message for the red wall voters who chose Brexit in the Referendum and Boris Johnson in the General Election: You’ve been: lied to conned cheated treated like fools You chose Brexit to take back control and lost what little control you had – the freedom to live, work and start a business abroad; […]

THE BOMBING OF GUERNICA 

The bombing of Guernica on 26 April 1937 wiped the small Basque town off the map. The outrage inspired Picasso’s painting Guernica, one of mankind’s greatest pieces of art, and has been replicated through March of 2022 by Vladimir Putin’s persistent air strikes on Mariupol.  The attack on Guernica, an undefended town of 7,000 people, […]