One day in East Berlin

09/11/2019

I never went to East Berlin. Not really. By the time I first set foot there on a freezing, grey morning in December 1989, it was too late. I was 28. The Berlin Wall, built six months after I was born, had fallen just weeks earlier. Those exultant scenes of hammers and chisels being taken […]
Lest we forget: Communities make the difference

28/11/2019

Another day of AIDS awareness and mourning is upon us. It’s the 32nd since the 1 December was designated World AIDS day in 1988. This year’s theme — both timeless and timely — is ‘Communities make the difference.’ Earlier this year I republished a letter to my late partner, Lawrence, who died of AIDS in […]
We will meet again: but the world has already changed

06/04/2020

A long time ago, in another world, I was with a group of trade union colleagues in Belfast. Drink had been taken. Late in the evening, our Northern Irish colleagues just out of earshot, one of our number, Pete, commented on how remarkable they were. And how we couldn’t do what they did. Pete was […]
A call to action for Edinburgh which every one of us must heed

30/09/2020

‘This is not a set of recommendations, it’s a call to action’, said Jim McCormick introducing the final report of Edinburgh Poverty Commission’s report today. With characteristic calm candour, McCormick, the commission’s chair, levelled with us. That call to action is not merely for officialdom. It is for all of us — the citizens of […]
Plagues don’t end unless we care enough to stop them — but we knew that didn’t we?

10/07/2021

I’ve been thinking of writing again for a while. I said I might, didn’t I? I even said I’d let you know how this plague ends. But that looks hopelessly naive now. The way things are going, if I wait until then you could be hanging on a long time. And tonight, it’ll be 26 […]