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NO MORE MAGIC BULLET- or why I have stopped watching the West Wing

I love the West Wing. It still rates as one of the most well informed and influential series of the genre. Its speeches have been stolen by people who have osmosed its hope for a better way of doing politics. When we watch it today it holds a very particular kind of resonance because it demonstrates a civility that has been drowned in a sea of hate. It has positive images of a wrestled out faith, is rich with camaraderie and pith and is just good telly.
But its bad for me. 
It pains me to admit this, but the West Wing makes me think I can change the world in a way that is simply not helpful. 
It holds out the present hope that the world can turn on a single conversation. With the brave statement or right turn of phrase one might change the debate, and in turn might change the world entire. The moment in the Oval where they realise that if they take no credit they can save social security. The moment where Donna remembers to pay welfare payments. The realisation that all the NATO people a…
Recent posts

Falling out with Football

Some of my earliest memories are of Sunday mornings. There was one which seemed to involve being in a big hall colouring pictures, but I didn’t much like that, so the memories that have stuck are of sitting outside. Now, I love outside, it calms me, so pretty much any outdoor activity would have held some thrall for my turbulent child self. But the family Sunday activity was football.
When I was very small my Dad played. He was past his glory days by the time I can remember. The cartilage in his knees had run out before the rest of his body- and so much of my memory of him was as he “ran the line”.I’m pretty sure he sometimes did that in wellies, but its been a long time.
Sunday football was part of our life. We would go to the game and then mum would join us as we had drinks at the social club next door. It’s why I drank beer from the age of eight and could snaffle my way through about a thousand calories of crisps in a sitting.
And then we would go home, have a massive roast and w…

What sort of day has it been?

Hello from a grey and somewhat subdued New York City. It's about twelve hours since we've known the outcome of the election cycle, and I don't entirely know what to think. So, what follows are mumblings- inspired by the things we have been up to for the last week.

It's a big place
We drove about a thousand miles and barely left New York State. The USA is huge and has vast swathes of natural resource and so I think I am beginning to understand why it doesn't have an international narrative like much of Europe.  In that big space we definitely saw more Trump signs than Clinton ones, more conservatism than liberalism.  In eight days we saw three minutes of news about affairs overseas (and no, we were not watching Fox News). Anyone you mention Brexit to looks at you like you are asking about a new drug- so the frame of international reference is negligible outside of the Beltway,.

It's lost a lot
One of the things about looking at a map rather than a guidebook when…

What's Next? 8 ways to move on..

It is still early, only twenty four hours since many of us woke up to find that what we had hoped did not happen. The referendum, for many is lost, and the reaction is fierce. What follows are a few ideas of how to navigate the next wee while.
Be Real If this hurts, hurt. If it make us feel scared, be scared. Anger and blame are great displacements- and they have their moment (which is still now, don’t just squash it) - but get as close to the real feelings as you can. And take that moment to acknowledge that for many of us part of the challenge is that we are not used to getting our own way.
Be Kind If you are reading this, the outcome is worse for many other people. They may have voted for it, but they will suffer. Be kind. And be kind to those who are very fearful. Being an EU worker at this moment must feel pretty grim. Be kind.
Switch Off How many of us have run our phone batteries dry in the last 24 hours? The urge to check social media and keep abreast of what s going on is…

A Week Today

A week today, when all the furore has ebbed and the markets have bottomed out, our nation will awake to the sounds of bugles and church bells as we commemorate 100 years from the start of the Battle of The Somme.  I am an historian by background, and the Somme for me is emblematic of a human tragedy that need never have happened. My reading of it is this: we began a war from a variety of odd alliances and murky motivations, capped off finally by a sense that no-one had the will to stop it.  In order to give the war effort impetus, posters, propaganda began to be bandied around about the enemy, about what they would do to children and how they needed to be stopped. It worked as a recruiting effort- young men, boys, and women all joined the war effort. They joined as an act of patriotism, tinged yes with fear, but also a sense that it might be the right thing to do. They joined from across the country- but at the heart of the front line forces were thousands and ten of thousands of work…

Time to Repent

Its Lent: a time when the Church of England along with many others of our brothers and sisters in Christ, take the time to reflect and repent. As the seasons changes through these next few days we face the death of God himself and we contemplate our part in that story.

This year our institution needs to repent. We need to every year but in this moment I believe we owe the country an apology. On Wednesday the Chancellor announced that which we have known is coming for a while: that all schools should be academies by 2020. And any of us who have been in education believe this to be a terrible thing. And it is my belief that the Church of England should have stopped this. And it is my belief that we could have stopped this.

The Church of England is the biggest single block of schools that could and perhaps should have a common ethos. These schools were set up to provide education to the poor and yet in a singular apathetic moment we have probably sold many such young people a rough d…

Living in a post democracy

How to live in a post democracy

So- the last post was pretty gloomy, but all is not lost. Here are five things we can do.

1 Register to vote and tell everyone you know to do the same. Our best hope is to vote and make our voices heard in the time honoured fashion. Vote in everything, even if you spoil your paper. We have to show that this is still the way.

2 Subscribe. If we want a diverse media we have to pay for it. Become a member of the Guardian or pay for the Independent online. Or buy the Mirror. And for goodness sake BUY A TV LICENCE! You may also want to consider joining a Union.

3 Support the positive. For those of us who can afford local, organic produce then lets be intentional about it. Lets be intentional about using local energy supply and seeking companies who already have a commitment to things like good food labelling and non GM (which also includes Aldi and Iceland as far as I am aware). There is a list of companies who are anti TTIP. They are primarily small…