A family of swans show that KILLING A SWAN is illegal.


Killing a swan was once considered an act of treason and still today you can end up with a large fine, even a prison sentence. I didn’t know that when I was 14 and didn’t know that summer day in the school holidays that I would be killing a swan. There were four of us […]

Dylan and Orwell Light the Way - illustrated by Dylan reading a newspaper

Dylan and Orwell Light the Way

Dylan and Orwell. Different times. Different genres. But both were lighthouses beaming out shimmering brilliant words to light the way. I was in hospital aged 14 with a cracked skull after a tree fell on my head during a lightning storm in Epping Forest. My dad gave me a copy of 1984 while I was […]

Clifford Thurlow's 1973 press card

My Secret Writing Tutor

A writing tutor may be a flesh and blood man or woman who pores over your scribblings and offers shrewd advice. You may find your spark in the words of your favourite songwriter – Bob Dylan, say, or an author, William Boyd or John Grisham. If you want to learn how to write elegant sentences with […]

Child Mozart and the piano

Can You Learn How To Write?

If you have a box of multi-coloured beads and thread them on a silver chain, the necklace you make will be original, an illustration of your taste and talent – or its absence. If a hundred people make a necklace from the same set of beads, they will all be different. Some a mess, others […]

Wooden Dummy holding a plastic skull


At fourteen, I wore black turtlenecks and learned to smoke Gauloises. The year before, I was a Boy Scout and a professional squirrel killer.  To protect red squirrels, Hertfordshire County Council had declared war on their grey cousins. If you killed a grey squirrel and took its severed tail to an office in Cheshunt, you […]

Black, Female and as Mad as Hell

Salaria Kea was black, female and as mad as hell suffering mistreatment every day from the white doctors at Harlem Hospital in New York where she worked as a nurse.  One day when Salaria and a group of friends were eating lunch, three white doctors came in. One of them demanded they give up their […]

Dylan and Orwell Light the Way

The Importance of Being Liberal

A liberal is open minded, understands the benefits of debate and compromise, and is tolerant of people with opposing views. Being liberal, according to George Orwell, is behaving at all times with common human decency.  A liberal believes in the democratic system of interconnected institutions designed to limit the excesses of wealth and power. Liberals trust […]