“On Being Nearly Dead ” – latest in The Fortnightly Review.

I’VE SEEN PEOPLE who were ill, nursed people who were ill, known people who were so ill they died but I’d not been seriously ill myself. Until, just recently, I got hit with flu. People had told me that flu was bad (real flu, as opposed to a bad cold, that is). They were under-describing it. This was the nearest I have come to dying, for 48 hours anyway.

Read on..


Yappy Apparatchiks and the Lobster Prof


YOU WOULD HAVE thought that eighteen months after the EU referendum vote the reactionary establishment would have come to terms with it and accepted the Great Unlettered of the British public no longer want to be a part of the European utopia, but that does not appear to be the case.

Various members of the political system are so obsessed with the business that they are still trying to pin the blame on those damn Russians. The UK Electoral Commission has sent Facebook back to do more digital digging on the matter — to see if they can unearth more than the measly 70p of subversion they uncovered on their first investigation. Maybe this time they can make it up to a full English pound.

Read on The Fortnightly Review.

Please don’t encourage the young to “change the world”.


AROUND THE INSTITUTION posters have gone up exhorting the young folk to become global activists. “Change Your World,” says one of them. “You must be the change you want to see in the world,” says another (good old Gandhi). “Let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons,” comes the voice of Malala Yousafzi. In the communal dining area the words of Saint Mandela are printed on the wall up high: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

As a now aged man who has seen and endured the results of people wanting to change the damn world — purportedly for the better and with our interests at heart, of course — I wholeheartedly disagree with this advice.


At The Fortnightly review.

Brian Higgins and the iniquity of his oblivion.


“THE INIQUITY OF OBLIVION blindly scattereth her poppy, and deals with the memory of men without distinction to merit of perpetuity.” So wrote Sir Thomas Browne, a writer who has not had the full weight of said iniquity fall upon him and managed to remain partly in the light of literary remembrance. Those of us stricken with the vanity that we may be remembered after our death for our poems, novels, plays, paintings, songs or whatever, never find out, of course, though we know the odds are in favour of the poppy.

Such was the case with Brian Higgins (1930 – 1965), poet, mathematician, teacher, rugby player, freelance journalist and dole wallah. Higgins published three (hardback) collections, two of them during his very short life (The Only Need and Notes While Travelling), and one posthumously (The Northern Fiddler). His poems had appeared in reputable magazines and anthologies, including The Faber Book of Twentieth Century Verse, so he was not exactly an obscure scribbler while alive. His portrait was painted by Patrick Swift, one of the leading Irish artists of the day, and he knew many of the more successful writers of the period. This included George Barker, himself a permanently half-remembered poet, who wrote a foreword to The Northern Fiddler.

Read on at The Fortnightly Review.

Too young to tan, too young to vote.


THE CAMPAIGN TO GET the voting age lowered to 16 is one of the left’s current political fashions and a useful way both to market themselves as modern and caring while badging opponents as youth-hating old fuddy-duddies. They seem to have had some success in persuading young people to vote for Labour in the recent election, despite the fact that there is no dinosaur older than Corbyn on the political scene or anyone whose policies are more paleolithic and discredited. But that’s a result of the ignorance of youth, as we shall see.

Read on at The Fortnightly Review.

Police virtue-signalling in Lincolnshire.


BRITAIN’S POLICE FORCES seem to have agreed amongst themselves that their real purpose is not deterring crime and catching criminals but pulling increasingly embarrassing stunts in public to signal their political virtue . Hence they show us how seriously they take our safety by complaining to supermarkets for labelling female sanitary products as “feminine care”, displaying their painted blue nails (anti-slavery, somehow), dressing up in bear costumes and wearing red high heels — not all at the same time.

Continue reading at The Fortnightly Review.

There’s no virtue-signalling in my book.


ONE OF THE surprising things that has happened to contemporary British politics is the disappearance of any understanding (or practice of) positive public presentation: PR, as we used to know it, when big hitters like the Conservatives and Labour spent millions on publicity gurus to make them look good to the public. They all seem to have forgotten the old adage that appearance is 90% of politics.

Read on at The Fortnightly Review.