The stardust alien: from Hull to eternity

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I stopped listening to David Bowie a year ago.  My love for his music was undimmed but I had come to the conclusion that old tunes were crowding out the new – at least on my playlists.  I decided that, for a while at least, I would embrace the contemporary.  […]

Welcome news: unions’ agreement with global broadcaster

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The pumping handshake before a roomful of international representatives appeared enthusiastic.  Flashlights popped and applause rippled around Geneva’s Press club.  Jim Boumelha, president of the International Union of Journalists and Mostefa Souaq, executive director of the Al Jazeera Media Network exuded satisfaction at a negotiation concluded (they are pictured above). […]

Conviction politics: Shrewsbury’s jailed strikers won’t be the last

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 A febrile air of hope and opportunity runs through most of United We Stand – a dramatic exploration of the 1972 building workers’ strike and subsequent jailings.  Set against glam rock and rank-and-file radicalisation, the play explores how builders’ anger about pay, safety and casualisation pushed them to spread their […]

Poles apart: a war-torn-childhood classic resonates yet

Few childhood books made such a lasting impression on me as Ian Serraillier’s Silver Sword.  Nevertheless, until my daughter reminded me of the work, I would have struggled to identify the source of the themes that so impressed me. The story, aimed at readers from ten to their mid-teens, was […]

Happy unions: Corbyn delights labour’s leaders

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Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader the day before Trades Union Congress gathered in Brighton electrified the annual gathering of shop stewards and general secretaries.  Speeches on the most prosaic subjects were greeted with thunderous applause if they included a hat tip to the MP for Islington North.  One militant […]

Message in a bottle: the struggle to recognise what matters most

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There are two empty jeroboams in my friend Neil’s wine cellar the labels of both of which are covered in signatures and bon mots from the diners who enjoyed their contents. My name is on both. We drank the wine on nights when Neil was in his pomp – hosting […]

Clocking off: a dip in Lake Geneva

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Few are the major cities that afford outdoor swimming at their very centre.  Geneva, by virtue of its site at the head of one of Western Europe’s largest lakes, has always been an exception.  There are several points at which the water is accessible to bathers in the city centre.  […]

Swim city: cooling my heels at Kings Cross

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Bathing on a building site is an improbable antidote to June in the city.  Nonetheless, the Kings Cross Pond Club provides an enchanting, if unusual, oasis as the mercury rises. This temporary installation in the midst of the vast goods-yard redevelopment to the north of the rail terminus is little more […]

Professional foul: there is more to life than mammon

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TES column 6 February 2015 ‘Professional’, used as a descriptive term, has undergone a transformation.  Today it means ‘unequivocally good’. Governors are expected to work ‘professionally’ to encourage school improvement.  Top-of-the-range tools and products are ‘professional quality’ and we aspire to undertaking tasks ‘like a pro’. How different to the […]

Over exposure: are new laws needed to protect celebrities’ children?

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Originally published by The Guardian 9 January 2015 Hannah Weller’s campaign to “prevent the media from publishing photographs of children without their parents’ consent” makes a seductive pitch. She and her musician husband Paul were photographed with their young children, without their consent, shopping in Los Angeles. The pictures were published by […]