Articles

Latest travel articles

  • Four Girls, Four Countries, Eight Days

    For us June 2022 had become the era of the postponed trip. There was the trip to Northumberland, postponed since before Covid and the trip to Madeira postponed since March when we actually had Covid. But most of all there was the road trip to Europe with the four granddaughters who live in the same […]
  • The Alternative Winter Holiday

    We gave up on M. Macron and his country about a week before they gave up on us. That is to say we abandoned our plans for a skiing trip in January because of all the tests and documentation required and the possibility that we wouldn’t be allowed into restaurants or cable cars and then […]
  • The Great Escape, October 2021

    Nineteen months, March 2020 to October 2021: the longest time in our adult lives we had stayed in our own country. It wasn’t a bad life because we walked, cycled, played tennis, spent lots of time with grandchildren, gardened and even traveled within England – Norfolk, Northumberland, Isle of Wight. My cooking improved, I played […]
  • Expat Storm

    It would be normal to think of the Scots as the second biggest nation in the British Isles with a population a little under five and a half million. But there is arguably a bigger tribe with a population over five and a half million, which is British expats. Expatriates are people with a country’s […]
  • The Golden Age of London, 1980-2020?

    It’s a commonplace observation, revealed in numerous interviews and heartfelt observations expressed online, that a pandemic takes away the benefits and increases the costs and dangers of living in a city. According to surveys conducted for the London Assembly Housing Committee in August 2020 14% of the population of London wants to move out and […]

 

Latest ideas articles

  • The Pastoral Calling

    There is a member of the House of Lords who always says nice things about me. He says them on the rare occasions we meet and I am told he says them in my absence. He credits me with an important role in his surviving his first year at university. Having survived he went on […]
  • Being a Writer (or not)

    I suppose I am a writer as there are fourteen different books with my name on the cover and I’ve also published over a thousand articles. I also suppose that I always wanted to be one because if you look carefully at the Lancastrian magazines of the early 1960s you will find (very) short stories […]
  • The Rise and Fall of the School Story

    Among the most treasured possessions in my study, gathering dust but re-read from time to time, are my bound volumes of The Captain magazine. They are a good selection, amounting to about a quarter of the total, of the output of the magazine during its existence between 1899 and 1923 and they’ve been around pretty […]
  • How to Enjoy Art (nearly all of it)

    We were walking the banks of the Thames on one of those bright winter days early in 2022 while waiting to pick up the grandchildren from school. We came to Tate Modern and we can no more pass a gallery than I can pass a pie shop so in we went despite the complex Covid […]
  • Another History of Ideas

    David Runciman, Confronting Leviathan, A History of Ideas, Profile Books, 2021, pp. 279. Decades ago – generations, really – I used to teach political philosophy including the history of the subject. Curiously, as it seems now, I managed to do this in two universities before my twenty third birthday and before the sixties were over. […]

 

Latest sport articles

  • The Ethos of “The Captain”

    The Boy’s Own Paper has entered the English language as a name for a kind of sporting clich√© which combines the heroic and the far-fetched. “Boy’s Own stuff”, we say (or at least journalists do) when the debutant football arises from a tackle that looks as if it had put him in hospital to score […]
  • Bob Lord: Butcher and Visionary

    The land in which I grew up was mostly famous for its witches, but there was also an ogre. He was fierce and cruel yet he was able to give the people magnificent gifts because he had absolute power over the thing most people cared about. This was Bob Lord, chairman of Burnley Football Club […]
  • A BBC Sports Channel?

    Five old men meet in a park during lockdown. Within a minute and from a stimulus that nobody remembers we are quoting the holy texts: “The bowler’s Holding, the batsman’s Willey.” (Brian Johnston) “And for those of you watching in black and white the pink is next to the green.” (“Whispering” Ted Lowe) “Oh. I […]
  • Sport and Liberty

    This Sporting Life: Sport and Liberty in England 1760-1960 by Robert Colls, Oxford University Press, 2020, pp. 391, ¬£25.00. This Sporting Life begins with Minna Burnaby, an American lady married to a Leicestershire landowner. Her diary tells us that in the 1909-10 season she rode to hounds on 108 occasions, falling ten times. In the […]
  • Sport in the Middle East

    Danyel Reiche and Tamir Sorek (Eds), Sport, Politics and Society in the Middle East, Hurst & Company (London), 2019, pp. 284. There is a certain football manager who, when he fails to sign the range of players he would have liked, growls, “It is what it is” and gets on with managing what he’s got. […]