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 […]

The “Right Wing” Case for the NHS

I am inclined to be snotty about the NHS. Debunking things that everyone else seems to believe in is one of my stocks in trade and I found all that clapping to be a bit North Korean. Moreover the service is the last proud moral possession of the Labour Party, not an organisation I’m fond […]

The True Meaning of Alastair Campbell

About thirty years ago my wife and I attended a wedding at the House of Commons. At the drinks between the ceremony and the reception proper the two of us were talking to a young journalist. We asked him exactly what his job was and he said he was the political editor of the Daily […]

In Which America Goes Crazy

So this is me doing what I am sworn not to do. That is, write briefly about the contemporary events that everyone else is writing about and for no money. It’s almost like tweeting – but not quite. On January 6th 2021 a bunch of hooligans as we would call them became the first people […]

Life with the Blind

One night in late 1964 I assisted at a bizarre ritual which involved three blind men climbing up a drainpipe. It led them to the easily opened window of the Junior Common Room in Queen’s College, Oxford. I had been drinking with them because they were school friends, from Worcester Royal College for the Blind, […]

The Professorial Class

My involvement in universities goes back well over half a century and I think it’s safe to say that the changes in universities during that time vastly exceed those in the half century before that. They have increased enormously in scale, shifted to much more vocational emphases, are much more international in nature and are […]

How Much Work should You Do?

In 1971 the National Board for Prices and Incomes felt itself obliged to research how much work university employees did. Lord Redcliffe-Maud, the Master of University College, Oxford, but also the person most associated with the reform of local government as he had chaired the recent Royal Commission on the subject, offered a simple piece […]

At Last I Get to Join the Class War

In its earlier manifestations I was left out of the class war. I grew up in a terrace house in a Lancashire Mill Town and before you begin imagining I’m looking for some kind of sympathy I must add that it was absolutely idyllic. The row of houses was between a field and a park […]

Good Old New Society

Friday October 5th 1962: my sixteenth birthday, but more widely known for the coincidence that the first James Bond film, Dr. No, was released that day and so was the first Beatles single. Some people have portrayed it as the day that the sixties really kicked off, but I was unimpressed. I thought that “Beatles” […]

The Joys of the Virus

“I like the virus. I want the virus to stay forever.” My grandson Teddy was a few months off his fifth birthday when he said this and one can appreciate his position. Under the rule of Corona you get to be with Mummy and Daddy all the time and they give you their full attention. […]

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