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Post-op report

Dear friends, I’m back home after a week-long spell in the Royal London Hospital recovering from seven hours of surgery on my lower spine. The experience proved arduous, as grueling as it sounds, but the good news is that I’ve survived and should draw tangible benefit from it. What happened was that the revlimid therapy… Read more

Streets of the imagination

CONTENDING FOR THE LIVING Red Pepper, October-November 2011 Events over the summer brought to mind William Blake’s uncompromisingly angry poem “London”, written in the early 1790s under the impact of revolution in France and repression at home. The poet wanders “through the charter’d streets / near where the charter’d Thames does flow” where he encounters… Read more

Riots, reason and resistance

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu “Criminality pure and simple” was Prime Minister David Cameron’s initial verdict on the rioting. From the right came the mantra, “Down with sociology! Up with water cannon!” Don’t think but do act – harshly, punitively, peremptorily. In the wake of the riots, a powerful vested interest has been at work… Read more

London’s embarrassment

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 1st June “This is the end of political correctness in London,” exulted a Conservative as newly elected Mayor Boris Johnson entered city hall. Nearly a month after the polls closed, it is still an extraordinary thought that London, of all places, is to be represented in the eyes of the… Read more

As long as you’ve got your health

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 26 August St. Bartholomew’s Hospital – known to Londoners for generations simply as Barts – has a claim to being the world’s longest-established provider of free medical care to the poor. It was founded by a penitent Norman courtier in 1123 as a priory hospital on the edge of the… Read more

London: police and “terrorists”

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 25 June At 4 AM on June 2nd, another grim episode in the war on terror was played out on a quiet residential street in east London. In what the media initially hailed as a major anti-terrorist triumph, 250 heavily armed police descended on a house where, it was alleged,… Read more

Who speaks for the Jews? Livingstone and the Board of Deputies

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 5 March The news that the elected Mayor of London was to be suspended from office for a month at the direction of an appointed tribunal startled Londoners, partly because few had any idea that there existed a body with the power to overturn their democratic preference, and partly because… Read more

Atrocity and introspection

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 24 July The mid-afternoon queue in my high street bank is long and sluggish. It’s a hot day, by London standards, and everyone looks a little sleepy. There’s a woman in hijab and full length dark cloak, who seems cooler than most of us, standing in front of a middle… Read more

Message from London

A rapid response to this morning’s events This morning, the suffering, grief and terror that have visited so many innocents in recent years came to London. We have not paid the kind of price that people have paid in Fallujah, Najaf or Jenin, but it is a steep price nonetheless. And its root causes are… Read more