Hillsborough and Transparency: why I know something of how the relatives feel about not getting the truth (until now)

[Originally published Sep 12, 2012]

I understand something of the frustration and anger of the relatives of the Hillsborough victims because I had a similar experience – albeit on a much smaller scale. British officialdom has a cult of secrecy and cover-up that is still with us, even if is has gotten slightly better.

In 1982 my younger brother Gary, 21, was killed. He was beaten up and died of a heart attack. Officialdom made this horrible situation worse by acts of secrecy. Continue reading “Hillsborough and Transparency: why I know something of how the relatives feel about not getting the truth (until now)”

Black Like Me (Flash SciFi – stories in 150 words or less)

She stared into the mirror, shocked. She’d turned black! Locked in her room for with a horrible fever, curtains drawn and lights off because her eyes hurt, she hadn’t seen herself for 48 hours. It had never occurred to her that her sickness was the so-called ’BLM Virus’. She thought it was ’flu!
Unleashed by an AQ-Nation of Islam fusion group, it was a retrovirus that rewrote part of the victims gene sequence, changing their skin colour, permanently. She’d had a briefing. She sobbed quietly to herself, ”God help me”. He wasn’t listening.
It wasn’t the change, she told herself, she could cope with that, she hoped. She was a good Catholic and really not a racist, despite her politics. But the virus was supposed to be an STD. ”Converting the white Devils through their own sins” said their website. How was the country’s most famous virgin going to explain that?

The NHS and a Tale of Two Lumps (not for the squeamish)

WARNING: If you are squeamish you might not want to read this, and especially not look at the photo’s.

This is the tale of the removal of two lumps from my body by the NHS.

I am fully aware, as a good social scientist, it is a completely idiosyncratic story from which no general lessons can be drawn. But given the debates about having a “GP driven” NHS and the desirability of more locally provided services, it might be interesting as a bit of ‘participant observation’ research? Continue reading “The NHS and a Tale of Two Lumps (not for the squeamish)”

Twelve Songs for Madiba

The passing of Nelson Mandela – Madiba – caused me great sadness. He’d been the backdrop to most of my politically conscious life from the early 1970s onwards. Music played a significant part in the struggle to overthrow apartheid and free Mandela and his colleagues. Yet already, some of this musical history is being lost. So I’ve been moved to prepare a small compilation of music that moved me – and millions – over the years. If you can, listen. Continue reading “Twelve Songs for Madiba”

Prison, Parliament or Professor?

My Mum always used to say, when I was a teenager, I’d end up either in prison or in parliament. Little did she realise that they were not mutually exclusive categories these days! Or that I’d end up avoiding both (just) and finding a third, alternative, “P” – being a Professor. Continue reading “Prison, Parliament or Professor?”