being lucky is catching a falling star

Being Lucky is when Preparation meets Opportunity

Is being lucky just a matter of, well, luck? Or is it fate? Destiny? Providence? Thomas Jefferson is credited as saying ‘The harder I work, the luckier I get,’ but that’s far too simplistic. Men work hard hours in mines and women in paddy fields through long lifetimes without being lucky once. Likewise, in the […]

Covid germ flying through the air shows we are all in this together


It had started to rain as I closed the door and hurried off to get my first anti-covid shot. Scaffolding clung to the side of number 23 where two Polish painters braving the weather called to each other in opera accents. One waved and I waved back. An Amazon van pulled up and the young […]

The Good Samaritan helping a beaten man.

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, […]

David bowie writing by hand to create a new song

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 […]

Jennifer Lopez sings at Joe Biden inauguration

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 […]

Margaret Thatcher and Boris Johnson


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 […]

Elephants eating from garbage dump

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 […]

Mum and Dad on their wedding day

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 […]

Soldiers advancing for the Republic in the Spanish Civil War

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 […]