Trouble in Westminster: stay calm!

Thomas Paine wrote that the English constitution was “imperfect, subject to convulsions, and incapable of producing what it seems to promise”. Two and a half centuries later it is reassuring that there are some things, besides death and taxes, that you can always depend upon: our constitution is on course to deliver a bumper crop […]

Lies, Damn Lies and Being Honest with Yourself.

I cannot think of a film trailer that has so upset me before. There on the computer screen was Kenneth Branagh, as William Shakespeare in his new film All is True. This is what he said. “If you are honest with yourself, whatever you write, all is true.” This sounds very cosy, but – apologies […]

Brexit: How to Move Forward

Dear Friends, According to the 18th December editorial in the Otago Daily Times[i] there is some bother back in Blighty to do with Brexit. From 18,926 kilometres away it all seems rather simple. As we (that is the editor of the ODT and I) see it, the issue was altered to the advantage of everyone […]

Is it time to forget Remembrance Sunday?

This Sunday, the people of Shepton Mallet will assemble at our Cenotaph, as people all over the British Isles assemble at their local war memorials, to say some prayers, sing some hymns, mark the two minutes silence, then follow the Shepton Mallet silver band down the High Street to St Peter and St Paul’s church. […]

Saint Ronan the Airbus 330

According to Wikipedia, there are no less than twelve Irish saints called Ronan “…including St Ronan of Locronan, St Ronan of Iveagh, St Ronan of Iona, St Ronan of Ulster and St Ronan Finn”. Not mentioned in Wikipedia is St Ronan of Aer Lingus, pictured below at Boston Logan airport, just before it took us […]

Why we like TV Murder Mysteries

Why do we like TV murder mysteries so much? In England we have banned fox hunting on the grounds that it is death-based entertainment (in relation to the fox – nobody minds about the occasional hunter parting company with his or her horse). Yet every day millions of TV viewers derive pleasure from seeing, sometimes […]

Maigret’s Dead Man

In real life, murder is a hum drum squalid crime of violence. As depicted in UK TV drama, it is sometimes of the Scandinavian noir variety – that is squalid but not hum drum  – or more usually it happens in a rustic middle class la-la land where the houses are straight out of Country […]

What are Political Parties for?

What are political parties for? You may have your own ideas about that. However, the official answer is that they came into existence alongside mass democracy, to identify and support candidates in elections, to mobilise voters to vote for them and to formulate policies around which candidates and voters can coalesce. If so, they are […]