Friday, December 08, 2017


This morning's news at breakfast-time could mean that I'll not need to surrender my British passport and take German nationality in order to be able to remain in my chosen Heimat.

At least I think that's what it means...


Ariel Sharon was a brutal, bombastic, buffoonish, bigoted, boorish bully according to many, and that’s without taking descriptors from the rest of the letters of the alphabet. 

I well recall cringing and anticipating the worst in the first year of the new millennium when I saw reports of Sharon’s infamous walkabout on the Temple Mount, the Muslim-controlled holy site in Jerusalem. We know what followed that provocation, the misery and bloodshed of the second intifada.

Now I find myself searching for apt epithets starting with the letter 'c' that can do justice to the monumental madness of Herr Drumpf!

I can think of a few...

Wednesday, December 06, 2017


I had conversations with Johnny Hallyday in Paris in the mid-sixties and in Vienna in the nineties and found him courteous and approachable.

I guess approachable also applies to Christine Keeler, whose demise was also announced this day. She frequented the Kenco Coffee Shop which was a hangout of mine back in the days of the Profumo scandal, and we may well have passed the time of day. But I abhorred the gangland low-lifes with whom she seemed happy to be associated, the notoriously rapacious slum landlord Peter Rachman and the East End crooks Ronnie and Reggie Kray.  

Tuesday, December 05, 2017


How could I not buy the Kindle edition of Berlin Calling? The story of Kelly Dunham's heroine spans the seven years from 1938 until 1945. My own Chance Of Reign covers only seven months in 1936. But my narrative also features the nascent Nazi radio propaganda apparatus of the time and so I was anxious to learn how the author had approached the topic.

It is a highly entertaining piece of storytelling, full of detail speaking of serious research and where poetic license has been taken it is fully justified. There are reader reviews on the Amazon site which accuse the author of being too soft on the Germans and deplore the Irish-American heroine's lack of patriotism. I disagree profoundly with such opinions, for one of the biggest challenges when writing about the epoch in question is finding ways of dealing honestly with the astonishing ambiguities of the times. One of the sponsors of Hitler's 1936 Olympics was, after all, Coca-Cola! Kelly Durham rises to the task admirably, offering us protagonists who are merely misguided as well as others who are devious and brutal. It is a nuanced and well-calibrated narrative and should please readers who prefer not to view history in terms of black and white but (dare I say it) in shades of grey.  

It is entirely coincidental that BBC Radio 4 very recently broadcast a half-hour program about Radio CaledoniaDonald Alexander Fraser Grant was the voice of the shortwave station. The broadcasts attacked the British establishment and fomented Scottish Nationalism. The clandestine Nazi radio station broadcast to Britain between June 1940 and August 1942.  The man from Alness on the Black Isle peninsula north of Inverness, known on-air as ‘Jock Palmer’, argued in his broadcasts that a Hitler-controlled Scotland would be vastly preferable to ‘an England run by a war-mongering Churchill’.

The audio documentary gave this Scot, at home for almost a decade in modern Germany, much to ponder over.

The radio program is linked here.

Monday, December 04, 2017


Saturday, December 02, 2017



Friday, December 01, 2017


from Quartz
"Fast food takeaways are usually a go-to for the cash-strapped. You can get a bag of chips for just £1, a tray of fish and chips, brimming with all the trimmings like peas and gravy, for under £5, and even a box of fried chicken that can be as cheap as £3. But considering just the bag of chips alone comes in at 1,000 calories, which is half the daily allowance for 7 to 10-year old girls and boys, and is pumped full of fat and nutritionally poor ingredients, you can see how easily it is to pile on the pounds."

from The Guardian
"Increasing numbers of fast food take­aways are springing up close to schools in England, with pupils in the most socially deprived areas exposed to five times as many outlets as their richest peers.more than 400 schools across England have 20 or more fast food takeaways within a 400-metre radius, while a further 1,400 have between 10 and 19 outlets within the same distance. Public health experts have warned that heavy exposure of children to fast food outlets and increased consumption of high-fat nutrient-poor food leads to greater risk of childhood obesity, as well as heart disease and stroke in later life."

Thursday, November 23, 2017


Congratulations, Mickey