“Do you not see?” – the invisible magic of Nigel Smith

Nigel Smith, devoted family man, industrialist, sailor and hill walker, referendum wonk, devolutionist and electoral reformer was the most influential political campaigner you’ve never heard of. He died suddenly at home in Scotland two weeks ago aged 78, unburdened by establishment honours and with little public attention. The list of those who campaigned alongside Nigel […]

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Black and white

While it was going on the decade was entirely ours to describe, one word after another, millions of minute hands hour by hour etching out the character of the island each littoral city, sub-continents. Also, the nature of work in Dublin and Dubai, the unsatisfactory financiers, family life in all its forms the justice of […]

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Obituary, 17 years on

Roddy Scott Compassionate journalist who died filming the Chechens’ forgotten war The Guardian Roddy Scott, who has died aged 31 while filming intense fighting between Chechen rebels and Russian forces in Ingushetia, would have enjoyed the irony that it took the killing of a British journalist to revive international media interest in the ongoing war […]

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The Hague

What do you do if you are the Kingdom of the Netherlands? No inheritance to speak of, only land water then sea water and over 17 million souls squeezed in between. Well, you take nothing for granted. You learn irrigation, navigation and English, you grow cash crops make yourself widely available to trading opportunities, hold […]

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Berlin in June

Such beautiful blue skies! Parks, pleasure boats on the Spree and across the imperial parade ground a soft breeze from the east cools the walls of the restored Reichstag, and stands up the tricolour of black and red and gold. Through the warm afternoon, electric scooters bearing citizens glide to and fro. These mellow scenes […]

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Midsummer

Half of June lost down lanes of puddles, damp swallows ill tempering iron skies low over fields of bullocks mooing with the cold. In the verges hares nesting under hawthorn umbrellas, their tall ears bright wet. Each day reduced by rain falling, falling and bringing the light down with it, folding the village in grey […]

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Antrim after rain

We kill one hundred head of cattle each week explained the old man sitting back in his chair, a Presbyterian from the south with an ecumenical constitution and a paper napkin tucked over his tie so that crumbs from his cream bun scatter onto the boardroom table. And pigs to china: tonnes of pork meat […]

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