Educational blog in the Daily Telegraph website
Latest column in Attain Magazine
The Last Twilight: The Empire in the Pacific
Before the Clapham sect, the Empire had engaged in trade, warfare and colonization. It had exported British goods, capital and people in exchange for land, wealth and merchandise. From the start of the nineteenth century, however, it aspired to export British culture and to ‘spread over (Africa’s) gloomy surface ‘light, liberty and civilization’.
The Pacific was one of the last areas opened to exploitation and colonization and was representative of this second phase of empire building. The random patterns of settlement and the legacy of the early whaler, sealers, traders and missionaries through to the testing of nuclear weapons has made the countries of the Pacific rim a social laboratory of the later stages of colonisation and empire and its residue in the years since decolonisation and independence.
Unfinished draft manuscript
The Memory of Absence
Stephen Alderson was a sixth generation New Zealander who had moved to London after graduating in Law and, having obtained a position at Lincoln’s Inn, settled there. Despite enjoying what London had to offer, he remained stridently vocal in his advocacy of New Zealand, especially in its relationship to the Mother Country. And yet when he was given his family manuscripts, including the diaries of his great great grandfather in order to write a family history, he found himself asking questions about where his allegiances lay and about where he belonged. As he wrote the story from meagre records, diaries and jottings, he found disturbing evidence about his ancestors, one that sets out to answer the question of where we belong, and what is our
The relationship between a writer and his wife (or wives) is often a fraught one. There are numerous examples where acrimonious relationships affected the writings and health of writers or where spouses exhibited the patience of a saint in accommodating the foibles and frolics of husbands caught in the world of the imagination. Some, like Caitlin Thomas, gave as good as they got; other, such as Emma Hardy retreated into their own worlds; and yet others merely acquiesced. In looking at the relationships of the various married couples, one caveat comes through when marrying a writer: do so at your peril.
The book looks at Emma and Florence Hardy, Caitlin Thomas, Nora Joyce, Frieda Lawrence, Georgie Yeats, Catherine Dickens and Sophia Tolstoy amongst others.
A second book on writers’ mistresses awaits.
The English Bookshop:
In 2011, on an impulse, we found ourselves the owners of The English Bookshop’ in the medieval town of St Antonin Noble Val. The bookshop had been operating for about twenty years in a four story building that dated back to the 13th century.
The story of refurbishing the shop and first opening for business, of the shop keepers, stall holders and customers, of the town and the solitary business of selling books makes for a compelling story.
In 1942, two sisters, both officers in the Salvation Army, were murdered in the northern Hawkes Bay township of Wairoa, New Zealand. The assailants (and their motives) were never caught. Nick was first aware of the murder when a young boy when he discovered that the house where the killings took place some twenty years before was only two doors away. Later in life, by now a successful journalist in the capital, he returned to write a book about the case only to find that it was not closed, either by the police or in the minds of the residents – nor chillingly, by someone out there who wanted him to leave well enough alone. A mix of fact, faction and fiction, the book uses the evidence available to speculate on what actually happened and why while finding out why some things don’t ever disappear from the memory.
Proposal – some sources collected
A Stone Drops:
When taking his decision, how could Benjamin have anticipated the consequences? He had thought of everything, had been as rational and careful as he could be, but like a stone cast upon a pond, the ripples from his decision spread inexorably outwards, flooding the spaces around and swamping the unsuspecting tenants. As his world unravelled, Benjamin faced with the realisation of what he had started, but too late to stop the destruction of the fragile world that he had so desperately wanted to save above all else. Only then did he realise just how tenuous are the strands that hold us together – and how easily they can be broken.
Lines and Crosses:
In looking at the various world hotspots, those territories and regions fuelled today by racial, religious and ethnic tensions, the underlying source of conflict, at least in geographical terms, can often be traced back to the great age of empire building that took place in the late 18th and 19 th centuries. The absorption, division and sharing out of vast tracts of the world’s territories to create a new world map, full of straight
lines and acute angles, constructed with jigsaw complexity had as their raison d’etre the strategic, political and economic appetites of the imperial
powers, led by the greatest empire of all, that of Great Britain. Many of today’s problems can be laid at the feet of the expedient decisions of
politicians enacted through the pen of cartographers in ways that have shaped the modern world.
Book plan / contents only
When Caitlin Thomas found about Thomas’s affair her anger was savage and direct. Never afraid to confront and deal with Dylan’s meanderings, she resolved this time to teach him a lesson. In doing so, both by attacking his pride and his craft as well as beating him senseless, we learn a great deal about the strange, volatile relationship that was their marriage, how Caitlin loved and hated her husband in turn and the enduring legacy of their years spent together.
The West Coast of the South Island is a wild and remote land, battered on one side by the Tasman and hemmed in to the east by the Southern Alps. Here, Rupert had built his hut with the purpose of ending his life in this remote and primeval land – but not yet. First, he had a strange tale to unpick and some unfinished family business to attend to. What he didn’t know, however, was that his curiosity would cost him his anonymity, his refuge and later, the thing he most wanted, but had never known.
In the Name of Education:
As politicians jostle for position and give their own take on how our children should be educated, we watch the effects of league tables, of targets, of technology and social networking on our children. As childhood implodes, opportunities contract and life becomes more toxic, we should reflect as to whether there is a better way. The central question is always the same: does society in its present form want a free and equal education, available to all? The answer is not what we may expect.
In The Chair: The Public Life of Sir John Ormond
Emma: West of Western Girl
Florence: Mistress of Max Gate
Mahia: Murmurings of the Sea
Thoughts from the Study
And Another Thing
And What’s More