Picture Stories

A few picture stories ‘& essays
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Francisco de Goya I’m tempted to state that anyone even remotely inclined towards artistic expression will know the pain of compromise, particularly if working with (and in) the media or on commercial commissions. But this is perhaps less true now than it ever was, and here are two of the reasons why: Firstly, to know […]


A while ago I had an idea for a (grown-up) younger person’s novel, about the ghost of a Priest from the Spanish Inquisition, who – for his sins – had been condemned to tread unnoticed amongst buildings from his own time, until one day he meets….(hey, the idea’s too good to share). But where to […]

Northern Soul: A Top Ten

Ten all-time great Northern Soul records. A personal Northern Soul top ten. I haven’t listened to some of these Northern Soul tunes since I was in my teens spots, preferring as I did to keep moving, though it’s good to hear them again. There were so many truly great Northern Soul tunes (many of them […]

Ibiza Uncovered ?

The original Ibiza Uncovered series is rerun from time to time on Sky television channels. When it was filmed across Ibiza in 1997 I was on the Island, supposedly to shoot film for a travel company. Ibiza Uncovered in many ways led the way for cheap, fly-on-the-wall television and was a precursor for bottom-of-the-barrel ‘reality’ […]

Northern Soul

Dex Drugs and Northern Soul Looking back on a time of youthful excess, at Wigan Casino and Blackpool Mecca’s Highland Room. It’s not often I can pinpoint what I was doing on a given date, let alone one from forty years ago. But I have near-perfect recall for the 23rd of September1973, which is the […]

Stonyhurst & The Hodder

An aesthetically pleasing marriage of Elizabethan and Victorian architecture, the towered structure of Stonyhurst College sits modestly beyond what was once the main road adjoining Clitheroe and Preston, within a stone’s throw of the banks of the River Hodder, and it immediately imposes itself upon the eye of those who have sought it. A Catholic […]

Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela I got talking to a Frenchman in Salamanca one time, about the differences between France and Spain. ‘In France its about the countryside. But here its all about these amazing cities,‘ which for me sums up the best of Spain – amazing cities. Santiago de Compostela is one of those amazing cities […]

Picasso: Challenging the Spin

A ‘combative encounter’ with Picasso(le) and grovelling art-speak. The National Gallery’s exhibition Picasso: Challenging the Past provided London tourists and many people in Britain with a chance to view a substantial body of work by the celebrated Spaniard for the first (and perhaps only) time. I’m not Picasso’s greatest admirer and I went to this […]

Andre Agassi

Ode to Andre: An essay, which grew out of a review of Andre Agassi’s Autobiography, ‘Open’. I first saw Andre Agassi play live at the French Open, in 1987. I was keen on becoming a tennis coach in those days, and I already knew about Andre. So when I saw he was scheduled to play […]

Doctor Jack & Calcutta Rescue

Doctor Jack Preger and  Calcutta Rescue remembered. Doctor Jack Preger has a slightly twisted sense of humour and I hadn’t been in Calcutta long before I was on the receiving end. Driving through the city in what was then a twenty six year old Jeep (and for all I know, Jack’s original four-wheeler is still […]

Missionaries of Charity Calcutta

Shishu Bhavan and Mother House in Calcutta / Kolkata remembered Like many others, it was Malcolm Muggeridge’s book about Mother Teresa, Something Beautiful for God, that inspired the first of my two visits to Calcutta, and on the first visit I booked a flight to Delhi because it was a cheaper option than flying direct. […]

Jimmy Connors

I thought tennis was a game for pampered wimps, until the day I saw Jimmy Connors play, on a school trip to a local tennis tournament. With a mile-high chip on his shoulder, and groundstrokes to thump the opposition with, Jimbo left an indelible impression on my cocky, working class sensibilities and pretty much changed […]

Yorkshire Travel Guide

Ten of the best things to do and see, in Yorkshire and the Dales. This is just the beginning of a list of worthwhile places to visit in Yorkshire and The Dales … 1: Bolton Abbey Being honest? I’d rather be somewhere else. Usually. But for reasons that you need not share. 2: Skipton This […]

Lancashire Travel Guide

Ten of the best things to see and do in Lancashire 1: Clitheroe Best town in Lancashire by a route march. Good cafes, eateries, pubs, a baby castle and generally a great market town atmosphere. 2: Sunrise over Downham Downham is impressive at any time of day or year, but sunrise is something to treasure. […]

Northumberland Travel Guide

Ten of the Best Things to do in Northumberland 1: Sunrise at Holy Island Of all the things to do in Northumberland, sunrise at Holy Island is perhaps the most spectacular. But you won’t be guaranteed one like this…  2: The walk to Dunstanburgh Castle, …from Craster. And the best time to see it is […]


Manchester Travel Guide

Ten of the Best things to see and do in Manchester 1: The Northern Quarter The sell-out (or buy up) of the Northern Quarter began some time ago, so expect changes as more of it is swallowed up by those who simply must take ownership. Until the people who’ve made it what it is move […]

Chillingham Castle

Chillingham is quite possibly my favourite place in the North East, though I doubt you and I have seen it in the same light. The majority will see it in it’s hazy summer glory, for this is when holidays are taken and Chillingham gets to recoup some of the cost of its spectacular renovation – […]

Holy Island Lindisfarne

Wonderful sights often require effort on the viewer’s part – sometimes a lot, at other times not so much – and one of the most spectacular sights in Britain is a perfect sunrise over the Holy Island that is Lindisfarne. In summer, this might require some serious sleep deprivation (and a room at a local […]

Malcolm Muggeridge: A Man for All Seasons

Meetings with Malcolm Muggeridge remembered. In my youth, I turned on the television to find Michael Parkinson interviewing some gnarled old chap I’d never seen before. Another guest shortly appeared, singing the praises of America and how generous the people were to him, a ‘poor Englishman’. With an uncanny likeness to my mental picture of […]