22nd July 2018

On Friday our local Conservative councillor knocked on our door. He was interested to hear we’d spent some time in France and inevitably asked: why did you go and why did you return? Clearly I pointed him to my books Pensioners in Paradis and From Paradis to Perdition. But we also discussed the increasing problem of urban knife crime, not just here in Bham but around the world. In France, Macron’s security aide is facing the sack for violently beating protesters. Elsewhere, with Trump, Putin and Kim seemingly now bosom buddies, seems to me that defence spending needs to be rationalised away from old, war-type troop deployments to inner city protection from youth gangs and cyber warfare. Local police just can’t deal with it any more. With Mrs May too busy making a Brexit camel from the idealised thoroughbred horse, and the EU leader Mrs Merkel busy agreeing gas deals with Putin, who’s going to solve local, urban issues? Maybe I should write another book.

15th July 2018

A week of hopes dashed, resignations and a visit. In the end England came 4th in football’s World Cup. Reasonable, I suppose, in that - unlike the US World Series - we really mean all the countries of the world. Upsetting, though, as the whole nation expected to bring the Cup home again. And then, on the crumbling political front, we suffered the ignominy of two senior members of the Cabinet resigning, making the already shaky Brexit negotiations ever more fragile. Then, along came the President of the USA, putting his foot in it in his own inimitable way. First he appears to upstage HM The Queen by standing in front of her. Then, at a stroke, he allegedly suggested Boris Johnson would make a better PM than Mrs May and stated that the new white paper - so painstakingly put together by the government to allow us to continue trading with the EU after Brexit - would mean no future trade deal with the US. Fake news? More like an own goal Mr Trump.

8th July 2018

Thursday was the NHS’s 70th birthday. I was born a few months beforehand, a time when my father was still in the army and we couldn’t afford a doctor, so my mother, in labour,  had to bang on the wall to fetch our neighbour. But the following 5 July Aneurin Bevan brought nurses, doctors, pharmacists, opticians and dentists all together under one organisation. Medicine was now free for all at the point of delivery. But it was clear from the start that money would run out, so in 1952 prescription charges of 1s (5p) were introduced and a flat fee of £1 for standard dental work. However, since then decades of immigration have increased the population, people now live longer and modern expensive drugs mean that Bevan’s original concept simply can’t cope. If we’d stayed in the EU, at some point our beloved NHS would probably have morphed into a hybrid EU health system. So, what to do? No amount of funding will ever be enough, especially as our population continues to rise. We may have to follow the French route of 70/30 split - where everybody bar the old/infirm has to pay something. That’s the only way to keep the system going. Happy birthday NHS!

1st July 2018

The most compelling image of the week was not the football but the one of Prince William standing silently, with outstretched arm on the ancient, biblical stones of the Western wall...
Today in France marks the burial at the vast, domed Pantheon on Paris’s left bank of a remarkable woman, Simone Veil. As a survivor of the Holocaust, she and her family joined the 76,000 Jewish people forcibly expelled from France during WWII. Who’d have thought, back then in the worst of times, that a slim, slight woman would rise in France’s patriarchal society to become France’s choice today to be placed amongst the country’s ‘great men’.
....How fitting, then, that in the very same week that Prince William drew the world’s attention to the Holocaust by visiting the Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem, that a resilient French Holocaust survivor and champion of the Jewish people, should at last be remembered for her achievements. That is why I wrote Lamplight and Vichyssoise - one small step by me too, lest we forget.

24th June 2018

The house opposite has white and red England flags in the window. I’m surprised the police haven’t been round to arrest our neighbours for racial incitement, as threatened with pubs all around the country supporting our team in the World Cup today. Of course, some English fans have been rowdy in Moscow, but it was ever so. But what’s the alternative to nationalism? 110 years ago the British author Israel Zangwill wrote a play called The Melting Pot, received well in Washington, applauding the merging together of the peoples of America. But in Europe there is no melting pot. Just look at Germany or Italy, where the policies of the last 10 years have produced political meltdown. Instead of  what Merkel wants - fusion for Europe under her supreme direction - it’s heading for fission, an explosive European future, with Brexit the igniting spark.  So, will England win their game against Panama today? Possibly, but will they win the Brexit war?

17th June 2018

Ever feel like running away from the 9 - 5 rat race?  Where would you go - somewhere warm where you could relax away from people, traffic and all your worries? 13 years ago we did just that, and at first it was a wonderful adventure. But then Brexit changed all that. The annoying thing is that, if British expats living in the EU 15 years+ had been allowed to vote, Brexit wouldn’t even have happened! But now the EU is crumbling and essential truths are emerging that Germany has, all-along, been skewing things in its favour, to the detriment of smaller countries. Should we still have moved away from friends/family all those years ago? Come to my FB online party to launch the book that reveals all, and tell me what you think. When? This Wednesday-Thursday, 20 June. Time? Any time from 10 am UK time. How? Just click the link below on the 20-21st and add your views in the comment box. Cost? Free. Guest author opinions covering the US, Israel, Portugal and Africa. Prizes, music from Billie Holliday, Sinatra to Slade, and a quiz. See you Wed-Thurs!
www.facebook.com/events/1766387210093900/

10th June 2018

I see that even Simon Cowell has ditched his mobile phone. As a writer I’ve always embraced social media. It’s given me wonderful opportunities to reach out to a global audience, even when living in the depths of rural France. But...
Back in the ‘80s when the internet was developing, the concept was totally alien to me. Growing up in a capitalist society, I understood that if you wanted something, you had to pay for it. And if you wanted more, you paid more. That was the world of basic economics. A trader provided. The consumer paid. But then someone offered you the world for free.  Suddenly you could communicate, grow an audience, advertise, do research etc and it didn’t cost a penny. Or so I believed. But only now do I understand. We are actually paying the highest price of all, selling our souls to Big Brother.
.....be very afraid.