Welcome to the written world of RDN. I am a complicated conservative, and a bit hippy and arty round the edges. I am currently working on poems, a memoir and a one-man show. Over all that is an increasing interest in the idea of spirituality. More »

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Three Hobart Poems: Part 1 (audio version)

Posted by RDN under Military Covenant / RDN's poems on 18 May 2016. No comments.

This is the first of the three poems on the British Army WW2 General, Sir Percy Hobart I have written and performed. This poem, Part 1, Hobo: Man and commander – concentrates on the story of the man and his spanning of warfare from ponies to tanks, from the North West Front, via WW1, to WW2, and the many switchbacks in his military fortunes, as he battled with Whitehall and – quite often – the British military establishment. More »

Three Hobart Poems: Part 2 (audio version)

Posted by RDN under Military Covenant / RDN's poems on 18 May 2016. No comments.

This is the second of the three poems on the British Army WW2 General, Sir Percy Hobart I have written and performed. This poem, Part 2, Hobo: Man of design and fabric – tells the story of Hobart’s love of heraldry and design in cloth as he marks the creation of his armoured divisions in the 1930’s and WW2 and his own feeling for family and history. More »

Three Hobart Poems: Part 3 (audio version)

Posted by RDN under Military Covenant / RDN's poems on 18 May 2016. No comments.

This is the third of the three poems on the British Army WW2 General, Sir Percy Hobart I have written and performed. This poem, Part 3, Hobo: His generation and their books, tells the story of Hobart’s reputation calibrated against those of his fellow WW2 generals, in their words and his own. It includes an account of his remarkable production of The Story of the 79th Armoured Division in the ruins of Hamburg in the summer of 1945. More »

“Scrap the BBC!” (2016) on BBC radio

Posted by RDN under National Media Trust / On TV & Radio / RDN's media outings on 17 May 2016. No comments.

This month saw the publication of the 2016 government White Paper on the BBC which as part of the 2016 Charter renewal process, will set the purposes, funding and governance of the state broadcaster for eleven years.

I was wheeled out on Radio 5 Live and a couple of BBC Radio Scotland shows to defend my view that the BBC ought to be got rid of. Almost all the arguments I used in my book, “Scrap the BBC!”: Ten years to set broadacsters in 2007 seem germane now. The book’s main fault was in supposing that by now, 2016, we would be further ahead in freeing ourselves of fear of losing the BBC. Indeed, the White Paper is at the very most merely a small step toward a reduced, let alone an abolished BBC.

In one matter, the appetite to be rid of the flat, 12-month licence fee, I have better evidence than I did in 2007. It is an area, see below, in which I have a bit of a beef with Steve Hewlett, the country’s leading media guru. More »

The Classics and modernity (#1)

Posted by RDN under Mind & body on 26 April 2016. No comments.

This is a pair of essays on the theme of the Classics and their continuing influence. It’s in two parts: #1 The Classics and Us (the reverberations of the Classical world on our civilisation) and #2 The Classics and Me (the reverberations of the Classical world on me much more personally). So this is #1… More »

The Classics and modernity (#2)

Posted by RDN under Mind & body on 26 April 2016. One comment.

This is a pair of essays on the theme of the Classics and their continuing influence. It’s in two parts: #1 The Classics and Us (the reverberations of the Classical world on our civilisation) and #2 The Classics and Me (the reverberations of the Classical world on me much more personally). So this is #2… More »

The Jungle Book (2016 movie)

Posted by RDN under On movies on 24 April 2016. No comments.

This may well be a great movie: I know that I came away from it very willing to see it again soon. It had several jobs to do, and seemed to tick almost all the boxes. It is, perhaps first and foremost, a successful update of and homage to the previous Disney account, which has been loved by generations. Secondly, one supposes its makers wanted it to be a fair account of Rudyard Kipling’s original book, and it is that. Thirdly, it had to be worth making: that is, it had to do something which can be done now which could not be done before, and it does. The fourth ambition was expressed by one of the team who made it: the storytellers should not get in the way of the story. Again, this movie succeeds. More »

Research, referencing, style guides, and howlers: quick guide

Posted by RDN under Mind & body on 21 April 2016. No comments.

This is a note which I hope is useful for anyone preparing to write essays at 6th form or university, and above, and for presentations of any sort. More »

The UK economy and the welfare state

Posted by RDN under Economic affairs / Mind & body / RDN's media outings on 2 April 2016. No comments.

For an outing on the BBC 1 Big Questions ethics show, I pulled together some research on whether Britain was a fair society. My general view is that one should worry about the poor, on the assumption that they are unhappy because of poverty and need help. It is not a dead cert that people in need of help can be given it, of course. Moreover, it may well not matter whether (or even how much) a country is unequal. Nor is the amount of welfare spending by any means a perfect indicator of whether a country is a good place for either rich or poor to live. Other posts have discussed those themes. (Try an in-site search for “inequality”.)¬† This one is intended to capture a picture of where the UK is compared with its neighbours, and – even more important – with other broadly comparable countries, in matters of wealth, welfare spending and educational outcomes. More »

RDN on BBC shows: Syrian refugees

Posted by RDN under Economic affairs / Mind & body / Politics & campaigns / RDN's media outings on 26 February 2016. No comments.

I was asked onto BBC1’s The Big Questions (7 February 2016, Episode 5, Series 9); on BBC Radio Scotland’s Call Kaye phone-in (25 February 2016); and BBC Radio Scotland¬†Good Morning Scotland (27 February 2016) to discuss whether Britain’s stance on Syrian refugees was morally acceptable (TBQ) and whether one had a moral responsibility toward helping them (Call Kaye) or both (Good Morning Scotland). More »

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