Stephen

Early one Sunday morning in spring in 1982 a young university student called Stephen jumped from the top of a block of flats in Manchester. He landed on grass. My girlfriend Helen and I were the only people around. While she went to phone an ambulance I covered him with my coat and held his…

All We Know

I crossed the road and a big, red bus from the Potteries Motor Traction company rushed, towering towards me. As the brakes shrieked I calmly said inside ‘Goodbye World’. I was 6 years old. Around the same time I had an out-of-the-body experience. When, as a Roman Catholic, I made the sign of the cross…

Selling a Good Night’s Sleep

We all know the best way to sell something is to sell something else because it’s not the mattress they want, it’s the good night’s sleep. A good advertiser creates a need for something that you didn’t hitherto have any desire for. The key is to change the consumer’s attitude. That is exactly what has…

England’s Green and Pleasant Land

Among the many things which the English do well, such as play rugby, join wars and play rock and roll, there is one activity that shines out like the North Star. The English do gardens better than anyone else. Daffodils, heart’s ease , flox, meadowsweet lilly stalks, gentain, lupine , tall hollihocks, roses, foxgloves, snowdrops…

Heraldry

You’re in the middle of a battlefield in the Middle Ages. There are dead bodies everywhere. Arrows rain down on you. You can’t read and everyone is a little bit too busy to stop and chat. How do you know who your enemy is and who your friend is? That problem was solved by heraldry…

007

Every English man secretly wants to be James bond just as every English woman wanted to be Princess Diana back in the day. Behind every tattooed hooligan and pale skinned English tourist is the gentleman-killer who always says the right thing at the right moment. Never underestimate an Englishman: he thinks he is Seán Connery…

Friendship Set On Fire

There is no living creature on this planet more romantic than me. Had I lived in the times of the great poets like Byron or Shelley, I might admit to some competition; but here and now – the week of Saint Valentine’s Day – I claim my rightful position as the world’s most romantic man!…

The British Eccentric

An eccentric is a one person sub-culture. The English, usually quite conformist, have had a famous tolerance of eccentrics. William Horace de Vere Cole (1881-1936) was an aristocrat who once had a bet with a Member of Parliament to race him along the street. Very sportingly he gave the MP a three metre start. What…