Virtue Signalling

Virtue Signalling

In my twenties I lived on a boat. For 18 hours a day it floated on the river at Hammersmith, a stone’s throw from the bridge. The rest of the time, when the tide was out, it rested on the shore, on mud and some old car tyres I’d drilled...

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What a bloody mess

What a bloody mess

When our servicemen and women returned from six years of a dreadful series of wars in 1945 they voted for the hope and aspiration of Attlee’s Labour Party in the election held in July (over two weeks) to the huge shock and surprise of Winston Churchill, our war time hero....

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From the Riverbank Part 12: Mayflies

From the Riverbank Part 12: Mayflies

  The English countryside has settled comfortably into summer, with trees heavy in leaf, and the borders along the little lane leading down to the river brimming with wildflowers; cornflowers, irises, poppies and celandine with pink willow-herb and thistles towering over them all. Robert Byron, in his prose-poem All I...

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Kingfishing

Kingfishing

The original binomial name for the kingfisher, Gracula atthis, was devised by the great Swedish toxicologist Carl Linnaeus, but later re-named Alcedo atthis, which actually stems from the Greek ‘alcedo’, meaning halcyon, in turn derived from the Greek goddess Alcyone, daughter of Aelous, God of the winds. Atthis was a...

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Work: and why you have to hate it

Work: and why you have to hate it

Capitalism isn’t working…… it’s getting other people to do it for you. As global economic inequality grows, there’s a feeling Capitalism is facing an end of days. But what might replace it is less a battle of ideas than a desert of anxiety. Viable alternatives are thinner on the ground...

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Shpilkes

Shpilkes

You know you’re in a real Jewish restaurant when the waiter comes to the table and asks, “Is anything alright?” The tendency to kvetch (complain) about everything is a standard character flaw for Jewish jokes to riff on. But,what exactly is a “Jewish joke”? For me, there’s at least three...

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From The Riverbank- Part 10

From The Riverbank- Part 10

  It’s been a six month since I last cast a fly on the river, six long months of feeling the autumnal chill enfolding the evenings and penetrating one’s very bones, russet and parchment leaves cracking underfoot, shortening days shuffling into night, a white confetti shower on scrunching grass, ponds...

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Past Imperfect, Future tense.

Past Imperfect, Future tense.

“Okay. But you hate the outdoors, your sense of balance could be sponsored by Special Brew, you think the people who do do it are tossers and you’re petrified of water.” I said, encouragingly. “I know, but I’ve got to take a punt…,” Tom said, “out… just once.” Even though...

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Can’t take a joke? Jeez

Can’t take a joke? Jeez

When I was still young enough to be unable to tell the difference between pretension and cool, Tom Stoppard came to give a talk at my university. His slightly RP/Czech fusion drawl made me think of his comparative linguistic knowledge so in the Q&A, my hand went up. Eventually he...

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‘London deserves a Mayor who will listen’: Assembly Member Tony Devenish speaks out

‘London deserves a Mayor who will listen’: Assembly Member Tony Devenish speaks out

In May I will have been a London Assembly Member for three years. In that time, I have grilled the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, on dozens of occasions, so I have a pretty good measure of the man. My overriding impression of Sadiq Khan is that he is simply...

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