August Blog; From London to Rio,the band plays on

Some reflections on  the Olympic  dream machine

‘As a microcosm of what we hope to achieve,  look at the Olympics and their Legacy….We have set ourselves the goal of ‘convergence’.  The idea is that kids growing up in East London should have the same life chances as anywhere else. There is no reason why the kids of East London should not benefit from, say, rugby, as much as the kids from Richmond.… Read the rest

Mad Dogs and Englishmen : The EU referendum and its Other Scene

1.Mad Dogs  

Like most of you, I have been following the public debate about the EU referendum  with   horrified fascination  and growing anxiety. Listening to the claims and counter-claims of the Remainders and Brexiteers reminded me of that  famous opening verse of Yeats’ poem ‘The Second Coming’ written in the immediate aftermath of the First World War:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.… Read the rest

A Poem for all seasons

When  Language is Affordance Enough

 

It began with a hand

clenched experimentally to ear

not so much a fist

as a makeshift mouthpiece

designed to broadcast  miracles

speaking in tongues:

 

‘habari,kangarooshni ,slapit

nego,nego,unulti possum!

craaghi ipsit cunnilingo ?

es krampit   todo   kwa heri ‘

 

a polyglot  mother tongue

Nordic vowels, Slavic consonants

Swahili syntax,Latin verse

and just a touch of Lewis Carroll

to stitch into proper nonsense

 

all in the hope  some passers by

might stop and listen,

become alarmed,

and call an ambulance,

take me to a  ’place of safety’

where the only voices heard

are  in my head.… Read the rest

Atishoo, atishoo, we all fall down : Some seasonal reflections on body politics

The well known nursery rhyme flashed into  my mind as I pitched forward onto the wet pavement, instinctively putting my right hand out to break my  fall. No it was’nt a serious as the  Black Death, but neither was the searing pain in my right shoulder a benign memento of a children’s counting out game,  to take the two dominant interpretations of  Ring a Ring of Roses nursery  rhyme.… Read the rest

Through Thick and Thin : On Public Sociology

Text of a talk given to the Michael Young Centenary Conference November 11 2015

Introduction

As this event is taking place , by no coincidence, on Remembrance Day , it might be appropriate to start with a personal reminiscence.  I first met Michael Young (hereinafter referred to as MY) in 1963 when he came to Cambridge to give a talk to the Heretics Society, of which I was a member .… Read the rest

And now for something completely different

Reflections on the labour leadership election

So, against all the odds, he did it. Jeremy  Corbyn’s victory is already being claimed as an     ‘insurgency’  on the scale of the SNP advance in Scotland, and driven by much the same popular discontent with  austerity economics and ‘business as usual ‘ neo-liberal politics. The campaign’s success is being widely interpreted as representing a shift to the Left, not only in the labour movement but in the country, in the wake of the election defeat and also due to the fact that Corbyn was the only candidate not tainted by association with the New Labour regimes of Blair and Brown.… Read the rest

SEPTEMBER BLOG: TO VOTE,PERCHANCE TO DREAM, AY THERE’S THE RUB.

 

Some reflections on choosing a leader

 

Like many of my friends and colleagues I am a fully paid up member of the Groucho  Marxist tendency. I would never join a political party  that would have me as a member. Until now. Because like tens of  thousands of others I  have now paid my three quid to register to vote in the election for a new labour leader, specifically because I did not want a New Labour  leader to be elected.… Read the rest

July Newsletter : Waiting for the bus

Introduction

This is a re-post as my webmaster has set up a system whereby these newsletters will be posted as blogs so everyone on my friends and colleagues list will automatically get  a notification. Apologies if you have read this before, although I have added a post script including some solutions that people  sent in to the little thought puzzle that gives the title of the piece.… Read the rest

May Blog : A post election comment

In the wake of the election it is clear that political geography is shifting under our feet. Centrifugal forces in what we used to call ‘British’ society, hitherto held in check, have staked out new and uncommon ground. This moment of de-centering, whether represented by the SNP on the Left, or UKIP on the Right, offers both an opportunity and a risk to everyone who holds on to a more inclusive vision of what social justice means in the city.… Read the rest

SEPTEMBER BLOG In place of Kaddish, a letter for Ste

 

This month, on September 12th, is the anniversary our adopted son’s death. We still do not know the exact medical cause as the inquest has been repeatedly postponed; the pathologist’s diagnosis of Central Pontine Myelinolysis concerns a condition which is almost as mysterious as the circumstances of his death in hospital. CPM is definitely associated with chronic alcoholism, but also with AIDS and a number of other serious disorders which have neurological complications.… Read the rest