Thursday, December 14, 2017


Disney announces it has reached a deal to acquire 21st Century Fox, as predicted by a Simpsons episode that first aired on November 8, 1998.

In March 2000 the Trump presidency was still 16 years away. However, writer Dan Greaney explained the joke was meant as a warning to the country. “That just seemed like the logical last stop before hitting bottom,” he said. “It was pitched because it was consistent with the vision of America going insane.”

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


My postman is spoiling me! Today's mail brought comfort and joy, the confirmation that the Munich social welfare office will be perpetuating support payments through the year 2018 and with a monthly sum five-percent higher than previously. 

This 'top up' in addition to my small state pension and the meagre earnings I predict for the coming year means that things should not be too bad.

Of course, I'll have to pay it all back in the event that my Kindle e-books are suddenly discovered and actually purchased in a respectable quantity. But the likelihood of that happening is, I fear, remote.   

Monday, December 11, 2017


In the course of my decade of writing this blog, I think I have made it clear that I have a greater affinity for Yule and Saturnalia than for the cannily crafted legends surrounding the death, life and, yes, the birth of the Prophet Jesus.

There are, however, delights of this holiday season, especially in Germany where bakery specialities like marzipan-filled Stollen loaves and Spekulatius biscuits invite me to binge without shame.

The seasonal jollity was greatly enhanced this morning when the postman delivered a real Christmas Card. Snail mail from Yorkshire, not a pseudo-personalised missive from my bank, the local optician or one of the food and grocery delivery companies who, admittedly, make my life more comfortable. 

Hence, at the behest of a lovely lady I have known for almost fifty years, I shall duly twinkle!

Friday, December 08, 2017


This morning's news at breakfast-time could mean that I'll not need to surrender my British passport and take German nationality in order to be able to remain in my chosen Heimat.

At least I think that's what it means...


Ariel Sharon was a brutal, bombastic, buffoonish, bigoted, boorish bully according to many, and that’s without taking descriptors from the rest of the letters of the alphabet. 

I well recall cringing and anticipating the worst in the first year of the new millennium when I saw reports of Sharon’s infamous walkabout on the Temple Mount, the Muslim-controlled holy site in Jerusalem. We know what followed that provocation, the misery and bloodshed of the second intifada.

Now I find myself searching for apt epithets starting with the letter 'c' that can do justice to the monumental madness of Herr Drumpf!

I can think of a few...

Wednesday, December 06, 2017


I had conversations with Johnny Hallyday in Paris in the mid-sixties and in Vienna in the nineties and found him courteous and approachable.

I guess approachable also applies to Christine Keeler, whose demise was also announced this day. She frequented the Kenco Coffee Shop which was a hangout of mine back in the days of the Profumo scandal, and we may well have passed the time of day. But I abhorred the gangland low-lifes with whom she seemed happy to be associated, the notoriously rapacious slum landlord Peter Rachman and the East End crooks Ronnie and Reggie Kray.  

Tuesday, December 05, 2017


How could I not buy the Kindle edition of Berlin Calling? The story of Kelly Dunham's heroine spans the seven years from 1938 until 1945. My own Chance Of Reign covers only seven months in 1936. But my narrative also features the nascent Nazi radio propaganda apparatus of the time and so I was anxious to learn how the author had approached the topic.

It is a highly entertaining piece of storytelling, full of detail speaking of serious research and where poetic license has been taken it is fully justified. There are reader reviews on the Amazon site which accuse the author of being too soft on the Germans and deplore the Irish-American heroine's lack of patriotism. I disagree profoundly with such opinions, for one of the biggest challenges when writing about the epoch in question is finding ways of dealing honestly with the astonishing ambiguities of the times. One of the sponsors of Hitler's 1936 Olympics was, after all, Coca-Cola! Kelly Durham rises to the task admirably, offering us protagonists who are merely misguided as well as others who are devious and brutal. It is a nuanced and well-calibrated narrative and should please readers who prefer not to view history in terms of black and white but (dare I say it) in shades of grey.  

It is entirely coincidental that BBC Radio 4 very recently broadcast a half-hour program about Radio CaledoniaDonald Alexander Fraser Grant was the voice of the shortwave station. The broadcasts attacked the British establishment and fomented Scottish Nationalism. The clandestine Nazi radio station broadcast to Britain between June 1940 and August 1942.  The man from Alness on the Black Isle peninsula north of Inverness, known on-air as ‘Jock Palmer’, argued in his broadcasts that a Hitler-controlled Scotland would be vastly preferable to ‘an England run by a war-mongering Churchill’.

The audio documentary gave this Scot, at home for almost a decade in modern Germany, much to ponder over.

The radio program is linked here.

Monday, December 04, 2017