Two new projects

On the heath and On the edge aren’t writing projects, so strictly speaking I shouldn’t be flagging them here, but I am proud to have collaborated on them with James Palmer and Louis Holder for p|arts. These two news films are rooted in Therfield Heath (Hertfordshire) and are very different to each other. The first… Continue reading Two new projects

The Black Watch Mutiny

Since the unsettling events in London of the previous week, Royston’s ever-alert exciseman, Jeremiah Berry, had been on the look out for strangers. Had it not been for his Scotish burr, Patrick MacGregor (alias Campbell/McAlpine) might well have slipped past Berry undetected. It was not to be. On 22 May 1743 the exciseman bundled his… Continue reading The Black Watch Mutiny

Mutiny!

I am delighted to be giving this talk at Royston Museum to raise funds for the hard-working Friends of the Museum. On 17 May 1743, 100 soldiers of the Black Watch Regiment turned on their commanders. 280 years on, discover how one man was hunted down in Royston and what happened next. Mutiny!: The Black… Continue reading Mutiny!

Revolting Royston (1): The Swing Riots

Revolution… On 28 August 1830 angry men smashed up a threshing machine in East Kent. It was not unknown for a disgruntled farm worker – worse for drink and in the gloom of night – to set fire to a farmer’s stacks of hay or straw to get his own back for some slight, but… Continue reading Revolting Royston (1): The Swing Riots

Up-cycling the past

This is about rabbits. Not your fluffy Easter Bunnies, but General Woundwort’s thugs from Watership Down, red-in-tooth-and-claw. The bullies who think they have all the answers. As they manically excavate their bunkers and scratch out secret passages, they blindly discard treasures and truth. Things of no value. Flints and buttons and fragments. Priceless incidental things. Part of… Continue reading Up-cycling the past

‘Human Vermin’

On Thursday 1 December 1904, five refugee families made landfall next to the Tower of London. Displaced, they were escaping from harsh new laws that the German government was enacting against travellers (a process that soon saw all gipsies fingerprinted and eventually led to Hitler’s death camps). Some in Britain were welcoming, but most were… Continue reading ‘Human Vermin’

The Man in the Tower

In 1533 England is gripped by terrible convulsions following Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne Boleyn and the break from Rome. Robert Dalyvell is imprisoned, suspected of spying. When he is released, he is missing his ears. Just three years on in 1536 Anne has lost not her ears but her head, and Dalyvell will soon… Continue reading The Man in the Tower

Learning to be human

Why (and what) do I read? It’s a very good question. I was chuffed recently to be asked to contribute some thoughts to Chris Lee’s Bookworms blog about why I love reading. It was good to torture my braincells into remembering what I actually read when I was a child, and how my reading habits… Continue reading Learning to be human