Articles

Latest travel articles

  • 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 […]
  • So – should we go to Mauritius?

    . . . being the question one is most asked having been to Mauritius. It is usually the only question and is taken as pre-empting all others. We went to Mauritius for no reason. It wasn’t a lifetime ambition and it wasn’t on any kind of tick list for either of us. The question was […]
  • Raising Razed Cities

    In recent years we seem to have developed a semi-conscious affinity with cities razed by war. We have been in Hiroshima and Dresden. We based a war memorial tour in Ieper/Ypres, obliterated by three years of siege as a “salient” on the Western Front. We were also in Oradour-sur-Glane, the village wiped out by the […]

 

Latest ideas articles

  • 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. […]
  • The Erasmus Fantasy

    In a long career of university teaching – 1968-2014 – many of the most interesting and satisfying moments involved overseas students. There was the robust Finnish girl bursting into my room demanding clarification of what I had said about rowing in my book on amateurism. The quiet Italian lad with a slightly aristocratic demeanour (echoes […]
  • American Freedom?

    I’ve lived in the USA and been often on holiday there and attended many a meeting and conference there and the idea that it is the “land of the free” has always left me chortling with a mixture of scorn and indignation and demanding rhetorically, “What exactly is it that you are free to do?” […]
  • My (Mild) Obsession with Professor A.C.Grayling

    We don’t have a word in English for “the opposite person to oneself”. People sometimes say “nemesis” in this context, but this really means the agent of one’s unpleasant destiny who may or may not be like oneself. Thus, by extension, it can mean in sport a “bogey team” or a curiously unbeatable opponent. I […]
  • A Box of Love Letters

    Most people, I guess, found that in “lockdown” they got round to doing things that were only on their really long list of things to do. In my case this included opening up the box file containing my father’s letters to my mother during the Second World War. He was in the Eighth Army in […]

 

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. […]