• Ghost in the machine

    Ghost in the machine

    I almost forgot to look away as the doctor drew my blood. Then she checked my heart. “It’s quite fast,” she said. “But that’s probably because of your journey here, based on what you’ve told me. You took the Tube?” The NHS GP on my street had a two-week waiting list — to speak over […]

  • Throwing the book

    Throwing the book

    I started this blog to support my efforts to get writing. It was a week before England’s second lockdown began. Like a lot of people, I believed I had a book in me. And I thought the pandemic would provide the room to write it. I’ve done a lot of things during the pandemic. I […]

  • Hidden  in London

    Hidden in London

    To Charing Cross, where my friend and I are due to meet for a tour of the Tube station’s disused tunnels with Hidden London. Not wanting to be late, I arrive 45 minutes early and pass the time in the Waterstones at Trafalgar Square. The air outside is cold; I can see my breath. I […]

  • Failures of the Euro 2020 final

    Failures of the Euro 2020 final

    I’ve been going to football matches for 20 years. The Euro 2020 final, played at Wembley between England and Italy, was the first time I’d feared for my safety – and that of others – at a match. So I was consoled by Baroness Casey’s review of the events that day in July. She noted […]

  • Mind the gap

    Mind the gap

    It’s ten years since I left home and went to university in London. I’ve started thinking about who I was then, after my gap year. I was essentially forced into taking a gap year. King’s College London had rejected me and I wanted to try again.* To complicate matters, my parents moved me and my brother to Grange-over-Sands in Cumbria. That felt a long way from Bolton and my mates. First on the agenda was getting a […]

  • Shortchanged

    Shortchanged

    I wonder if, years from now, we’ll look back at this time and marvel at how strange it was – the masks and the social distancing, the working from home, the going on furlough or losing your job, the fear of the outside, of what could happen, because nothing like this had ever happened. The […]

  • On the road again

    On the road again

    Becoming emotionally attached to a football club is a risky game. They can let you down. They can be mismanaged. They can fail. Bolton Wanderers, the football club I’ve supported all my life, nearly failed in 2019. Employees were forced to use food banks because they weren’t paid. The business fell into administration and the […]

  • Meditation in an emergency

    Meditation in an emergency

    I am a meditator. It started during the pandemic. I’d open the Calm app most days and listen to the daily meditation. Then I discovered Waking Up, an app by Sam Harris, and completed the month-long introductory course. Now I use both apps. I don’t practise every day, although I know I should. Here’s my […]

  • Night walks

    Night walks

    There are people in the distance. For a few seconds I can’t tell which direction they’re walking in — towards me or away. I’m often the first to cross the road to avoid proximity. If we’re going in the same direction and I begin to catch up with them, I’ll slow down. Not necessarily because […]