Filed under opinion

Listen To Britain 75th Anniversary

Listen To Britain 75th Anniversary

This is an incredibly famous documentary made in the dark days of World War II by Humphrey Jennings as a means of uniting the United Kingdom. I’d heard a lot about it but never seen it before. Documentary maker Kevin Macdonald introduced it, describing it as a masterpiece; it is that and more. There is … Continue reading

Forth Bridge and Britain’s Decline

Forth Bridge and Britain’s Decline

This is from a piece by Ian Jack who remembered the opening of its predecessor 53 years ago. What has been lost? Odd little things: a quiet pice of shoreline a view, a further erosion of Fife’s separateness – which could be argued is for the good. The argument against the car is a bigger … Continue reading

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City BBC4

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City BBC4

This documentary featured the pioneering journalism and activism of Jane Jacobs who led the battle to stop the wholesale replacement of cities and their vibrant communities with freeways and tower blocksin New York City. Her main opponent was Robert Moses who became a local hero for promoting open spaces and building public parks, but after … Continue reading

How to Create a Perfect Wife

How to Create a Perfect Wife

This is an intriguing book by Wendy Moore, a journalist and author who I’d never heard of. The story fills in a lot of gaps in my historical knowledge, especially featuring the poet Thomas Day who I knew from his famous abolitionist poem The Dying Negro and his book on child centred education. He was … Continue reading

Stockholm My Love

This is a film by critic Mark Cousins described as a love story about Neneh Cherry’s home city. I am not a fan of Cousins: his ponderous narration of his film on his film on children’s cinema was painful. This film comes free with subscriptions to BFI player, but most people have better uses of … Continue reading

Manchester By The Sea

Manchester By The Sea

This is a hard film to review and it’s taken me some time to figure out how to write this. It was nominated for loads of awards and Casey Affleck received best actor at the Oscars, Golden Globes and Baftas. The screenplay was also highly praised, yet it was not an obvious prize winner;  yet … Continue reading

Child Prodigies

Child Prodigies

James Ferguson grew up in rural Scotland in the early 18th century. Like most families, the Fergusons could not support their children so sent them to work at an early age. James became a shepherd but spent his days making models of mills, spinning wheels and any other mechanisms he saw. At night he lay … Continue reading

Imprisoning the Mentally ill

This is from Patrick Cockburn, award winning war correspondent with the i paper. It seems a far cry from his usual topic, but not really. The criminalisation of the mentally iill is one of the cruellest and most easily avoidable tragedies of our era. He discusses a number of cases of impending executions for the … Continue reading

Edward Colston and Bristol

Edward Colston and Bristol

The story  of Bristol’s Edward Colston (1636-21) has been dividing the city for decades and has now reached new levels with the decision to remove his name which has existed for well over a century from the city’s main music venue. The Guardian paper notes the similarities between this dispute and that of Cecil Rhodes … Continue reading

The So-Called Disease of Aging

The So-Called Disease of Aging

Last night I watched a BBC documentary largely focused on the work of eminent biologist Paul Nurse, on current work on gene technology in relation to the process of ageing. He spoke of how cells develop cancer and dementia due to the simple process of age, the cells just accumulate damage which impairs the usual … Continue reading