The Lamp Beside the Golden Door

The crowd lining Southampton docks cheers as the refugee ship noses into port. The battered old liner is low in the water, its bilge pumps spewing furiously, and its decks are packed with small bodies, waving arms, two or three faces squeezed at every porthole, boys hanging half-out in their relief and apprehension. Four thousand […]

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To Say Goodbye: the Basque child exiles

Two years ago, after a trip to the SeaCity Museum in Southampton, I found myself coming out of the library with a tall stack of books about the Spanish Civil War and pre-WWII Southampton, and the tendrils of an idea taking hold in my mind. Tucked away near the exit I’d found a small exhibition […]

Mummy Dearest

When I was growing up, it was an indicator of toff-dom if someone still called their mother ‘Mummy’ after the age of around six or so. We all called ours ‘Mum,’ without exception (unless we were being sarcastic, when it was: ‘Moth-errrr‘). Although the transition to Mum-ing was self-conscious, it made us feel a little […]

Portland Is Too An Island (Part 1)

The Isle of Portland is not actually the home of a Moloch-worshipping blood-sacrifice cult (at least not the one I wrote about), but it is nevertheless a fascinating place. I have recently done a great deal of research on it which I am determined shall not be wasted, and hence I bring to you, patient reader, […]

In the Service of the Demon

In Memoriam: Zahra Bani-Yaghoub 16 October 1980-13 October 2007. Tongue removed from cheek today, to share the inspiration behind my story ‘In the Service of the Demon’, recently published in the Willesden Herald anthology ‘New Short Stories 6.’ It wasn’t Zahra’s story I wrote. I do not know it; I did not know her. But […]