Thursday, 21 September 2023

WORLD EXCLUSIVE!! Sunak's secret global warming speech to Tory MPs!

Stop the boats! Stop the Green Cr*p! Stop the Woke Climate Blob!

That's how we'll win the next General Election!

Now, of course, saving the world from frying and ensuring our children and grandchildren have a planet to live on involves making some tough choices, and I've made them! I've taken the tough decision to delay all the action we Tories promised we would take to fight global warming!

I've also taken the incredibly tough decision to scrap a whole lot of laws that don't exist!

Now, we can't have action to fight global warming making people in Britain poorer. That's Brexit's job!

And speaking of Brexit, I know some of you have been concerned that my promise to be honest about global warming means that I might start being honest about Brexit! Don't worry. There'll be no nonsense of that kind! And, by the way, I'm not really being honest about global warming either! There will be no backsliding from the Conservative policy of lying whenever it's convenient.

So Stop the Boats, Stop the Green Cr*p and we Tories can rule for another five years, or until the end of the world, whichever comes sooner.

Monday, 28 August 2023

The 'Father of the Netherlands': visiting the scene of an assassination

William the Silent, who led the Dutch Revolt against Catholic Spain in the sixteenth century, is often known as the 'Father of the Netherlands'.  

I had written about his murder in my book Assassins' Deeds (Reaktion). How a fanatical Catholic named Balthasar Gerard had wormed his way into the Protestant William's confidence. How on 10 July 1584, Gerard had gone on an errand to the Dutch leader's house in Delft, and waited while William had lunch with his family. And how Gerard hid beneath a staircase and then, as William emerged, shot him dead at point blank range. 

So it was sobering and intriguing to stand on the very spot where this dramatic assassination happened. William's house is now the Prinsenhof Museum (pictured), and the hallway and staircase clearly recognisable from the accounts I had read.

Gerard tried to get away, but was caught and executed brutally. The Netherlands would have to fight on until 1648 to gain their independence in what became known as the Eighty Years War.

Friday, 18 August 2023

Memory Lane: interviewing people looking for work in 1975

Those nice people from MACE, the Media Archive of Central England, have just posted a television report I did for 'ATV Today' (the news programme that covered the English Midlands) on 25 July 1975. Interviewing people in Birmingham looking for work

Friday, 28 July 2023

BeatlesWatch: It was 55 years ago today.......................

On 28 July 1968, the Beatles went on a ‘mad day out’ around London with photographers Don McCullin and Stephen Goldblatt, to generate some publicity pictures. During the shoot, they visited St Pancras Old Churchyard in Camden, site of a Christian place of worship since perhaps the fourth century and nestling beside the lost River Fleet.

They sat on this bench – life was so exciting in those days. At the time the band were making the White Album, or more correctly Double Album, and already on the road to breaking up. 

Tuesday, 4 July 2023

Brexitwatch reveals the Brexiters' biggest mistake: winning!

I've managed to resurrect another section from the history of Brexit Britain published some time after 2050 - the priceless gift of Sybil, my acquaintance from the future:

'The morning after they "won" the Brexit referendum, the leaders of the Leave campaign, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, looked as though they were going to a funeral. No celebrations, no 'we did it' fist-pumping triumphalism. Glum faces all round. The reason was simple.

In a project with so many faults and flaws, it seems invidious to pick out one, but perhaps the greatest was that Johnson and Gove never meant Brexit to win. It was a protest movement. It was against the EU, and often against it with a visceral hatred, but it was not really in favour of anything, certainly nothing very coherent and nothing that its Heinz 57 varieties of supporters could agree on.

If only it had lost, Leavers could have gone on happily complaining about the EU, while the rest of the country got on with its business of being reasonably efficient and content. Instead Leave won, and found itself lumbered with implementing a pile of undeliverable, often contradictory promises. Soon its supporters were complaining more vociferously than they had when the UK was in the EU.

But to make things worse, those who had understood the benefits of EU membership and had now been robbed of them, were up in arms too. The whole country, Leavers and Remainers, were at worst furious at and at best cynically contemptuous of a whole English political establishment they felt had betrayed them. While it seemed the only people to have benefited were politicians like Johnson, Patel and Braverman who were promoted way beyond anything their extremely modest gifts justified.'


Sunday, 25 June 2023

I-Spy Penang, Malaysia. A reward for losing America

This is Fort Cornwallis, built by the British East India Company in the late 18th century to defend Penang against pirates. It was named after Earl Cornwallis, who lost America. Maybe I should have lost America, then I could have had a fort named after me!

Actually, that's a bit unfair to Cornwallis. There were plenty of British defeats and disasters in the American War of Independence (see my book Britain's 20 Worst Military Disasters, Spellmount), but the British never recovered from Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown in 1781 and the following year parliament voted to end the war. Cornwallis went on to become Governor-General of India, and Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland.

Thursday, 22 June 2023

How I became a victim of piracy!


My book Assassins' Deeds. A history of assassination from ancient Egypt to the present day (Reaktion Books) has apparently been translated into Persian without the permission of the publisher or of me, and without, of course, any payment being made for the rights. I assume that is its cover pictured above.

I owe this interesting piece of information to the 'Iran's Book News Agency' which reports that the work has been translated by 'Abbas-Gholi Ghaffari-Fard' and published by 'Tehran-based Negah Publishing'. Apart from that, the 'story' just reproduces a Reaktion press release issued when the book was published in the UK.

I understand from Reaktion that Negah has form and has pirated other books, and that it ignores communications. I hear from other sources that Persian publishers also translate magazines without permission. Rogue-state Iran is not a signatory to the Berne Convention which protects the rights of authors.