|Posted on May 20, 2019 at 7:30 AM||comments (1)|
Looking back over the year
Some of you may know that last October, just one month after my seventieth birthday, I began a three-year degree course in History at Birkbeck, University of London. The first academic year has just ended, and I thought I’d share my reflections. Birkbeck is an adult education college, so very few of the students are school leavers, most of them are in their twenties to their fifties. At seventy, I’m not even the oldest undergraduate in the d...Read Full Post »
|Posted on July 11, 2018 at 5:00 AM||comments (1)|
On Sunday 8th July I managed to combine three of my enthusiasms - walking, human rights and literature in one event. My friend Hilary told me about something called "Refugee Tales" - a project that is concerned with the welfare of people who are detained by the UK immigration authorities in t detention centres at Gatwick Airport.
The United Kingdom is the only European country that permits indefinite ...Read Full Post »
|Posted on January 23, 2018 at 6:15 PM||comments (0)|
On a bitterly cold, snowy day one March I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau. We were on a short break in Cracow at the time. I was in two minds whether to go or not; one part of me said that this not a tourist attraction, and treating is as such devalues the horrors that went on there. But another part of me said that I should see what went on; If we don't try to understand what happened, it can happen again.
All Auschwitz visits are guided. Joachim, our guide told us about the hi...Read Full Post »
|Posted on November 30, 2017 at 10:25 AM||comments (2)|
Charles Dickens first published A Christmas Carol in 1843 and since then his name has been indelibly associated with Christmas. This novel is credited by historians with reconstructing Christmas as a family centred festival of generosity.
I have my own childhood memories of Dickens at Christmas that I'd like to share with you, and I'd also like to share with you a tale of the remarkable generosity of a man I've probably never met, Mr J.G. Street. I have no idea what t...Read Full Post »
|Posted on November 13, 2017 at 6:40 PM||comments (0)|
Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, 1994-95
Few cities have such a strong sense of both time and place as Jerusalem. This is not only because of its religious importance, it's also because it has been continually inhabited, conquered and reconquered since the iron age.
More than three thousand years ago Abraham sacrificed his son Isaac in Jerusalem. King David conquered the city in about 1000BC and made it his capital. Since then it has been conquered an...Read Full Post »
|Posted on May 12, 2017 at 10:40 AM||comments (1)|
Two days in Cape Town
At the end of March Marilyn and I visited Cape Town. One Monday morning we took the ferry to Robben Island, the bleak outpost in the Indian Ocean where the Apartheid regime, like the British Empire and Dutch empires before it incarcerated its political prisoners.
The R...Read Full Post »
|Posted on March 9, 2017 at 10:15 AM||comments (1)|
The first thing that Elliott Roosevelt did when he arrived at the Democratic Party's convention in Chicago in 1932 was to make sure that the curtains were fully drawn across the front of the stage. He had to ensure that the audience of thousands were not in a position to sneak a view of what he had to do in thirty minutes time.
Satisfied that his actions would not be visible, the twenty-two year old son of the former governor of New York then introduced himself to the sound ...Read Full Post »
|Posted on February 15, 2017 at 5:55 AM||comments (3)|
In March 1942 George Orwell wrote in his diary: " All propaganda is lies, even when one is telling the truth". In 2016, Oxford Dictionaries declared "post-truth" to be the word of the year. Here are some examples of Post-truth:
• Obama founded ISIS
• George Bush was behind the 9/11 attacks
I wonder what Orwell would have had to say about this subject?
Since Donald Trump's election as President of the United States...Read Full Post »
|Posted on January 12, 2017 at 8:55 AM||comments (0)|
Most of the scenes in George Orwell's Animal Farm take place in the Big Barn of Manor Farm, Willingdon. Orwell never states in which county Animal Farm is set, but it is almost certain that Wilingdon is based on the tiny Hertfordshire village of Wallington, near Baldock, where Orwell lived on and off from 1936 to 1944.
Small villages and towns such as Haworth and Hawkshead are today almost entirely defined by their connections with the Brontes and Beatrix Potter, but Wall...Read Full Post »
|Posted on October 21, 2016 at 9:05 AM||comments (0)|
I am a member of the Boxbourne U3A Creative Writing and Poetry Group, and am dlighted to tell you all that we have just published our second volume of short, stories, poems and memoirs - Tales2Tell.
Tales2Tell costs £4.50 plus postage, and is available here. All proceeds will be donated to Macmillan Cancer Care.
Read Full Post »