MONTHLY BLOG 162, HAPPY CANVASSING MEMORIES

Political activists have a very mixed reputation, as has the political process itself. Door-to-door canvassers are sometimes seen as pests. Or as cravenly kow-towing to the voters. The image of Charles James Fox, the Whig reform candidate in Westminster election in 1784…

MONTHLY BLOG 161, DO LOCAL PEOPLE CARE ABOUT THE DIRE STATE OF WANDSWORTH PRISON?

Do local people care about the dire state of Wandsworth Prison, as currently reported by reliable sources? Yes, they do. Perhaps surprisingly, but certainly encouragingly, they do…

Horse-Drawn Clapham Omnibus, running from Camberwell Green to Clapham (1880s), on display in London Bus Museum, Cobham Hall, Brooklands Rd, Weybridge, Surrey.

MONTHLY BLOG 160, WHO MADE THE CLAPHAM OMNIBUS SO FAMOUS?

In mid-March, I was delighted to give an illustrated talk to the Clapham Society. The packed audience kindly laughed at my jokes – and asked great questions. And the event was held in a venue, wittily named The Clapham Omnibus. Which set me wondering about the origins of naming ‘The Man on the Clapham Omnibus’ as the (fictional) embodiment of a ‘reasonable citizen’.

MONTHLY BLOG 159, BUT NOW SPRING IS COMING AND IT’S TIME FOR FRESH PLANS

Good things can happen at any time of year. As can bad ones. But there is something basic about the cyclical nature of the seasons in Britain that encourages a degree of seasonality in human thought patterns. The perceptible lengthening of the daylight hours, the sight of radiant blossom on the trees, and the budding of the first daffodils encourage a sense of renewal. Time for fresh plans! …

MONTHLY BLOG 158, AFTER THE MIDWINTER JOLLITY, THE NEVER-ENDING DRY COUGH…

What comes after the Midwinter jollity and Ho-ho-ho!? (And this year it was all very jolly indeed). Alas, however, the answer in mid-January was a never-ending dry cough: hack, hack, hack! If other people’s illnesses can be boring, then usually one can muster up some interest in one’s own. But not a dry cough. It is very boring indeed….

MONTHLY BLOG 157, HOW THE GEORGIANS CELEBRATED MIDWINTER (*)

Variety was the spice of Midwinter festivities under the Georgians. There was no cultural pressure to conform to one standard format. Instead, people responded to diverse regional, religious and family traditions. And they added their own preferences too. Festivities thus ranged from drunken revelries to sober Puritan spiritual meditation, with all options in between…

MONTHLY BLOG 156, Tracking Social Media: It’s High Time for Effective Regulation

Yes, there are a range of good reasons for authorial anonymity. Yet … humans are tricky creatures. That trickiness, of course, helps to explain why authors so often seek anonymity in the first place. They may need to be protected in order to speak out against ruthless or corrupt employers. Nonetheless, humans can also use secrecy, not just to protect themselves from harm, but also to harm others….

MONTHLY BLOG 155, The anonymous author, seeking justified privacy or avoiding responsible transparency?

Last month I meditated on the need for fair and intelligent framework regulation for all manner of human activities. We are an ingenious but tricky species. Our best qualities and finest inventions can be used for dire purposes; or can generate malign results in the long run, even if no-one has actually willed such an outcome. Hence the need for clear and intelligent regulation…

MONTHLY BLOG 154, IN PRAISE OF (JUDICIOUS) REGULATION

Humans are wondrously inventive. It’s the cultural trademark of the species. Simultaneously, however, humans are also reflective creatures. They eventually realise – with greater or less reluctance – that their inventions and innovations need good framework regulations to operate successfully. Unless the impact of significant change remains fully monitored, there is always a risk that creative inventions may help in one direction but may simultaneously cause unintended collateral damage in another…

MONTHLY BLOG 153, ACKNOWLEDGING THE PASSING OF TIME

This personal BLOG is very short but very determined. It expresses my commitment to expand my daily exercise routine. Currently, I walk at least a mile and swim for half an hour daily, pushing myself to exercise all limbs with all-out effort. It’s very enjoyable. On the way to the pool, I sometimes yawn and am often bleary-eyed. On the way back, however, I sing cheerfully, feeling at one with the world…