Familiarity and Contempt

Familiarity and Contempt

Tucked in a mental pocket, scrawled on a scrap of ethereal paper lodged in my half consciousness, I have a list of 8 records chosen for a fantasy date with Lauren Laverne on Desert Island Discs. This list, like those of thousands of other no-hopers, changes frequently, depending on the...

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Theories of Conspiracy

Theories of Conspiracy

In the world we inhabit, what used to be called ‘myths’, once long in the growing, have morphed into swiftly manufactured ‘conspiracy theories’, and in the same way that religious myths can engender unquestioning belief in non-facts, so these invented conspiracies can influence followers of a political idea. This phenomenon...

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Noblesse Oblige – or Does It?

Noblesse Oblige – or Does It?

The Tenacity of English Tribal Markings Over a century ago, when George Bernard Shaw was appearing on an Edwardian equivalent of a TV chat show to promote his new play, Pygmalion, he said, probably in an Irish growl, that ‘it is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without...

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Banishing Tribalism

Banishing Tribalism

There are still people living in western democracies who are puzzled by the large numbers of white people who came out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. As Sherlock Holmes might have said to his baffled colleague, ‘It’s evolutionary, my dear Watson.’ I haven’t yet seen Mr Trump...

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Rich & happy to pay tax

Rich & happy to pay tax

I’ve nothing against rich people in principle. I know several – some extremely rich. I like some of them; I dislike others. I admire some for the generosity and imagination with which they have made use of their wealth; I despise others for their mean-mindedness and obsession with possession, and...

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What next?

What next?

In this most unusual of times, last experienced in circumstances that won’t be remembered by anyone alive – not even the redoubtable Captain Tom – in 1919, there is, as there was then, a wide perception that ‘Things Will Never Be the Same Again’. If you are not already busy...

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Mind, Body, Spirit

Mind, Body, Spirit

I can’t remember if the editor of this fine organ has warned me off writing about anything that might come under the general Dewey classification 200 or ‘Mind Body Spirit’, as they call it in Waterstones. It’s the kind of thing hard-nosed, pinot noir glugging magazine supremas might do,...

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Comment: Ya boo sucks

Comment: Ya boo sucks

It sometimes seems, in these disturbing times, that the default mode of general conversation is disparagement. Up in the hills of South Shropshire where I spend much of my time (and where KCW distribution does not penetrate) I am responsible for regular restaurant reviews that appear in a small glossy magazine...

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Something Positive

Something Positive

‘Something positive,’ the editor told me. ‘Give them something to smile about.’ ‘Crikey,’ as Bertram Wooster probably never said. ‘That’s a challenge – a lofty demand,’ he might have added, anxious, like his creator, to eschew the hackneyed phrase. I considered the ed’s request. ‘What’s not to be glum about?’...

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