Overrated: The British stand-up

At Standpoint magazine

The unredeemed universe of Game of Thrones

At the Catholic Herald

Fer, Feu & Glace (Le Trône de fer)

Fer, Feu & Glace (Le Trône de fer)

This is the opening to Iron, Fire and Ice: The Real History that Inspired Game of Thrones, translated with the help of @lucas_mst Un jeune prétendant levaitune armée pour prendre le trône. Lorsqu’il appritla mort de son père, l’adolescent – élégant et charismatique comme les descendants des rois du nord – jura de le venger par la lame. Malgré son jeune âge, il avait déjà gagné de nombreuses batailles et il suscitait  la loyauté de beaucoup de grandes familles… Read on

All my Spectator Coffee House pieces are up (well, most of them)

They can be found here.

Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms at the British Library is perhaps the most significant display in recent times

In this week’s Spectator magazine The first thing that greets you is a small figurine called ‘Spong Man’, dating to the 6th century and unearthed at a pagan burial site in Norfolk. Carved on to the lid of an urn, he looks like a middle-aged man sat down in his chair contemplating his worries. Spong Man represents a quite mysterious, distant world and the page only lights up with the arrival of Christianity from 597, which brought with it… Read on

It’s not just Brexit that has deepened society’s divisions

At the ipaper  With the appalling letter-bomb campaign in New York and following the divisive Kavanaugh row, political polarisation seems to have become an existential issue in the US. Yet there are plenty of reasons to believe that here in the UK we might be following this route, a division triggered by the 2016 referendum. The extent to which the vote has created new political identities in such a short space of time is revolutionary. A new report this… Read on

My Kingdom for a Horse – only $1.99 on Kindle

Buy it here. And here’s a sample Introduction Now is the winter of our discontent/Made glorious summer by this sun of York. As the historian Robert Tombs put it, no other country but England had, until the age of cinema, turned its national history into a popular drama, thanks to William Shakespeare’s series of plays. These seven histories chart the country’s dynastic conflict from 1399 to 1485, starting with the overthrow of the demented Richard II and… Read on

The Weekly Standard: Handing Britain To Jeremy Corbyn To Own the Libs

Me at the Weekly Standard. I wish I’d bothered to learn more poetry when I was younger so that I could think beyond Yeats’s done-to-death ‘Second Coming’ when musing British politics right now. Perhaps in 2018 it is better explained in meme form, as the dog in the burning house muttering ‘This is fine’, or the sweating man forced to choose between two buttons: ‘Renege on Referendum Promises’ and ‘Destroy the economy and Tory party’. After close to 200… Read on

‘The terrible things that happen when you put writers in charge’

Dictator Literature by Daniel Kalder. OneWorld Publishing, £10.99 Daniel Kalder is a very funny writer who specialises in Russian history and literature and has an eye for dark humour, the latter probably a necessity for the former. His latest book is a work of literary criticism with an unusual twist: studying the output of Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler and Mao, as well as some of the lesser tyrants of the 20th century. All were awful people; most were also awful… Read on

Hail, Emmanuel Macron, crowned of God, great and peaceful Emperor of the Romans!

From the Catholic Herald print edition, July 5, 2018 Last week France’s maddeningly young president Emmanuel Macron became the “first and only honorary canon” of the Basilica of St John Lateran while on a trip to meet the Holy Father in Rome. The title dates back to the 15th century but many French presidents, including François Mitterrand and François Hollande, have declined the honour, in consideration of the Republic’s often difficult relationship with Catholicism. Macron, however, seemed to be revelling… Read on