My Friend Eric

I was delighted to see my old friend Eric last weekend. Eric and I grew up on the same street in Upton - where my parents still live. But we had not seen each other for more than 40 years. Whereas he went to Liverpool University to study law and still lives in Wirral, I…

My book is on Amazon!

I am going to shamelessly plug myself this week. But why write a blog if you are going to be shy? I thought I'd finished writing my story The Scholar & The Black Spider six months ago, but every time I looked at it I saw that it needed a wee tweak here and there.…

Freedom to Travel

Watching the D-Day 75 Commemorations on TV has made me think, and not for the first time, how exceptionally fortunate I am, and how easy it is to take such good fortune for granted. It's obvious, when listening to British veterans of 6 June 1944 talking about their experiences, that they recall the events of…

Rominations

Have you been to Romania? I thoroughly recommend that you take a look, speaking as someone who has spent all of five nights in that fascinating country (earlier this week, hence this blog comes to you a day late). We only stayed in Bucharest and Brașov: two cities that just about everybody on a short…

A Second Chance

How often do you fail at something important, and get a second chance?  As previously recounted in Useless Information, when I was a postgrad at Queen’s, back in 1983, I was picked for the University Challenge team. I've always been a fan of the show and I was fortunate to (still) be at college when…

Welcoming Refugees

What have you done in the last 10 days? I shall summarise my activities - more for my benefit than yours. On Sunday 28 April I spent the entire day driving home to London from France. The following day was dedicated to unloading the car and washing clothes, sheets and pillowcases. On Tuesday I carried…

The Cockleshell Heroes II

Last week I briefly mentioned the events that followed Operation Frankton, promising to set them in the context of rural Charente. Put briefly, Operation Frankton was a commando raid on the port of Bordeaux in early December 1942, carried out by a small unit of Royal Marines. Six folding kayaks were transported to the Gironde…

The Cockleshell Heroes I

Many people will have seen the film about this daring Royal Marine Commando raid on German naval vessels in the Gironde in 1942. Of the dozen brave men who took part in Operation Frankton only two escaped with their lives (eventually making their way home via Spain and Gibraltar). It so happens that they passed…

Arriving in León

Spain in 1975 was very different from England and quite different from what it has become today. I felt it, as much as saw it, as soon as I got off the plane. Of course it was hot and dusty. Policemen carried machine-guns, and there seemed to be a lot of them about. There were…