Things could be worse

We haven't been annihilated by Russian missiles. The invasion of Ukraine continues, with thousands killed and millions made refugees, but it all seems far away, certainly far enough to be forgotten on a sunny day in May. I have a feeling that British interest in this war is waning, as it becomes almost normal, a…

It could never happen

It is easy to forget that 40 years ago our country (my country, that is) was at war. Very easy for someone of my generation to forget that it happened four decades ago. And even easier for subsequent generations, because there has been little about it in the news (not that I wish to be…

Thrill of The Chase

The BBC reminds us that the UK's first lockdown began a year ago today. At that point 364 people had died; now the total has reached 126,172. Over half the adult population has been vaccinated: an incredible achievement, many times better than what any other European country has achieved, and yet life has not returned…

The internet and me

"Where would we be without the web?" says everyone I talk to. Mind you, nearly every conversation I have is on the internet these days, so they would say that, wouldn't they? Shares in the company that owns the Zoom platform have, appropriately, rocketed. It’s not only Zoom, one of many technologies that allow meetings…

Keeping your pecker up

It’s a fortnight since I wrote my last blog on - you guessed it - Coronavirus, which certain persons close to home suggested was alarmist, depressing, over-reactive etc. But it wasn’t hard to guess that where Italy led we would follow - even if we are a few paces behind. If I sound like a…

Inside Story

Memories of 1980s Oxford, for the second time this month. In the same week in which I received an invitation to the Osma Centenary Symposium, Andrew informed me that he'd turned up a cassette tape from 1982 while looking (inevitably) for something else. He digitised it and emailed the result to Bernard and me. The…

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…