Friday, 22 May 2015


It might have been the first time we met, it was dinner at his house, in total we were four and at one point he stood up behind his chair to tear into the Conservatives, party and supporters alike, before adding with a gesture in my direction “present company excepted”. I turned to my friend and remarked “Do you know, I think he’s beginning to warm to me!” Maybe, but it was certainly true to say I’d warmed to him.

We met many times, often talking politics, occasionally agreeing, always enjoying the sparring involved. Most recently was the Saturday after the election for one of the most enjoyable evenings I can remember.

The following Wednesday he died, and every sentence since is charged with unintended meaning. I'm sensible to the obvious truth that others will be hurting more, yet I will miss my new friend.

Julian Barnes wrote “the fact that someone is dead may mean that they are not alive, but doesn't mean that they do not exist”. Paul cared about the things that matter; there was a genuine concern for the disadvantaged, love for his family, compassion underneath an acerbic wit. That first night as we were leaving he said to his wife, and loud enough for all to hear “Make sure they’re gone”.

He can still make me smile.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Fighting one silly argument with another

If I suggested that our current record levels of employment were related to equality legislation then some might call me out on such a ridiculous claim. And my offence wouldn’t be lessened if it were in response to a claim from a less reputable source that some UK employers aren’t hiring due to said legislation.

There is some anecdotal evidence for the latter, but whether the problem is perceived or real isn’t really the point. Every time you make a foolish point arguing against UKIP, it has the unfortunate effect of making UKIP look less foolish.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Ed the Brave

Worrying though it is to see television broadcasters attempting to dictate the terms of democratic debate – in that they must be on television – I could hardly blame a leader of the opposition in attempting to make capital of the Prime Minister’s refusal to dance. I do however object to his latest promise to enshrine in law such a requirement. This is an idea so stupid that the silence on Twitter, whose left-wing contingent are certainly not reticent in backing stupid ideas, was deafening.

Not even an article in The Guardian newspaper, whose loyalty in towing the party line is something to behold, was enough to save Ed Miliband, and this despite finding (and one can only imagine how hard they must have tried) a professor in support. Unfortunately said professor fatally undermined their argument by mentioning Prime Minister’s Question Time, which despite the raucous and occasionally vacuous nature of such occasions provides exactly what’s being asked for, only differing in being less polite, albeit a more accurate representation of our political representatives.

What’s really frightening though is how easily an irrelevant issue such as this can show the authoritarian side of the Labour party. If they’re prepared to legislate on something that the public are more than capable of judging for themselves, one wonders what other decisions they’ll decide to take out of our hands.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Immortal Diamond

...all the past mistakes must be included as teaching moments and not just something to hate.
As befits one who seems to spend most of his days sat in the bedroom working on his laptop - I work from home, honestly - when I recently (or should that be finally?) finished reading Immortal Diamond I updated the status on Goodreads, which being linked to my Facebook account posted an update there. And then I had this extraordinary thought, given the subject matter should I add a comment to the effect that I’m not “one of them”.

I’m only half joking too, such are the negative connotations associated with religious belief amongst many of those I know. Nevertheless I’ll occasionally feel duty bound to correct the extremes, when feeling particularly bullish to remind some that atrocities supposedly in the name of religion (and there’s an argument to be had there too) pale in comparison to those of the last century, the bloodiest we’ve yet managed; it’s an old repeated argument I know, but theirs is much older. Still, even then I’ll sometimes mitigate my offense; I’m not “one of them”. Is this to add weight to my argument or am I sometimes the coward?

It was interesting, though a difficult book to read. Those moments that made me stop and think were outweighed by those of frustration at repeated references to scripture. I was disappointed, as if being excluded from the obviously decent and inclusive nature of Richard Rohr. Well, it is a Christian book so I can hardly complain. Was I any better than those silly people who interpret the Bible literally rather than spiritually or, if you will, metaphorically? Next time, if there is a next time, I must try harder.

Monday, 6 October 2014

I, Atheist

Atheist; it’s at best a useless description, carrying as it does a hint of the passive aggressive. I think we’re better off stating what we are rather than what we’re not. We can do without conveniently attributing the root of our ills to some other social group, you know, the one to which we don’t belong. Let’s show the courage, the common decency, to take ownership of the evil with which we’re troubled. It’s not that it’s our fault, but neither is it theirs.

Sunday, 5 October 2014


Sign - Use us or lose us