The Story of 1804 Part One: Winter

The independence declaration, written in French by Louis Boisrond-Tonnere and signed by General-in-Chief Dessalines, founded a new state called by its native name, dedicated to the abolition of slavery, ‘anathama to the French’, and a ‘radical understanding of race and citizenship.1 Revolutionary France, under pressure from Saint-Domingue’s ‘black jacobins’, had abolished slavery in 1794, emancipating […]

On Budget

My response to the 2024 budget statement Budgets, according to least two political podcasts over the last week act as a wonderful energy booster for the party in power, only to lose their power as people digest their contradictions, assumptions, and consequences . Last week’s budget statement by Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt seems […]

The Story of 1804 – from Haitian Independence to the Battle of Tsuntua

1804 proved a remarkable year in world history, in the arts, in science and industry, and in the shifting sands of liberty and empire. This revolutionary age reaches a kind of climax: a good starting point for understanding the 19th century that emerged. Warfare between Russia and Persia, America and Tripoli, and elsewhere in Africa […]

Art of Paris

Part Two: Cabanes Imaginaires Autour du Monde This is the second in a series of posts relating my visit to Paris in October 2019.See Part One My first day’s Parisian wanderings led me to the Louvre, which I’d not planned on visiting. Before I even realised that’s where I was, my eye was drawn from […]

Sunday Afternoon Radio

I spent the afternoon of the 24th October this year listening to two instructive, entertaining and even illuminating editions of two standards of BBC Radio broadcasting. Desert Island Discs, running continuously on the BBC since 1942, interviews each week a ‘castaway’ entitled to choose eight sound records, a book and a luxury to console them […]

Taxing the Rich

A year or so ago there was a possibility I’d be interviewed for a story in the Daily Telegraph. I subscribed to the paper to check out the journalist involved, and have never got round to cancelling. The paper sometimes called The Torygraph, the paper of that party in effect, might be useful to read […]

Philip Martin

The writer Philip Martin has died. Probably best known for the 1970s TV play and later series ‘Gangsters’, which was set and filmed in Birmingham, ‘Gangsters’ stands up today partly as social commentary and partly as an exemplar of non-realist TV drama somewhere between Patrick McGoohan and Dennis Potter. He subsequently wrote two rather idiosyncratic, […]

Art of Paris

Part One: The Public Sphere In visiting Paris last year in pursuit of art I had two specific objectives: an exhibition and a gig., But as I outlined in my walking blog, the journey would be nothing without the unexpected. I thought I’d offer a more focussed look at what art I found, beginning with […]

Walk the Walk

With an apparently innate antipathy to the internal combustion engine, I’ve always been a keen perambulator. I was born and brought up in Stourbridge, that strange interface between the industrial Black Country and the Worcestershire and Shropshire countryside. My beloved Grandfather was a great walker. In my late teens I journeyed to Birmingham to catch […]

Laughter Lines

In late 2015, after physically healing an injury I’d sustained in midsummer, I was looking for some psychological healing experiences. Laughter, of course, is often called ‘the best medicine’ and there seems to be some truth in this. I discovered laughter yoga, which I found an excellent tonic. What’s the medical evidence for this? Somewhat […]