Tracks of my tears: an internal jukebox selection


1. I grew up in a home where the King was revered. In the ’70s I couldn’t get excited about big ballads, curious concept albums and woeful film scores. The Sun recordings, however, had a raw, personal, intensity to which I responded immediately. Before I was a teen, I had […]

Miner poets: striking a rhyming seam


Buried deep in this summer’s Latitude Festival line up was a curious outpost from a very different cultural moment.  The three-day event’s insufferable up-from-London-middle-classness is a well worn riff for compares.  But among the up-and-coming performance poets who provide the mainstay of the ‘poetry-tent’ program, was a celebration of verse […]

Hot wheels: public transport African style


The shock of navigating Mombasa’s roads, even in a giant Land Cruiser, was such that survival was my only concern for some time.  The surge of vehicles, each trying to gain advantage by any means, was in a different order of magnitude to traffic in any of the western metropolis that […]

Source marked: how journalists’ smartphones blow contacts’ cover

Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger

IFJ/NUJ/Guardian conference – Journalism In An Age Of Mass Surveillance The Guardian, London 16 October 2014  Above: Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger Cocktail shakers are newly popular among Guardian journalists, and manual typewriters are making a comeback.  Both result from rising fears about the state’s ability to gather ‘metadata’ from reporter’s […]

The living dead: my faith was renewed at a socialist pioneer’s graveside


Hollywood and horror writers have seen to it that graveyards evoke feelings of dread, fear and apprehension.  At best they are where the grieving outpour their despair; at worst they are the scene of spines chilled, foul deeds and the rising dead. Wandering around the monumental Victorian remembrances in Dundee’s […]

Talent spotting: finding my forte at forty


TES column 25 July 2014 “We all have a talent – it is just a matter of finding yours”, was a popular mantra among the teachers who tried to guide my education. Certainly at school, some pupils excelled – effortlessly, it seemed – at maths, english and sports. I was […]

Captive audience – applying pressure to free journalists jailed in Egypt


Shocking as was the sight of Al Jazeera journalists  Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed locked in a cage while they were sentenced to long jail terms, broadcast pictures rendered the scene remote.   Meeting with the three journalists’ colleagues, and considering – arguing at times  – about what we […]