Welcome to my website!
Here, you will find details of my Career and Life, Books, and Media & Public Appearances. I also make available a collection of my journalistic writings. Just below, you will find a new Moral Matters Column (uploaded each Friday) and a selection of my Saturday Essays from the Irish Daily Mail. At the bottom of this page, I have selected a quote from my writings in the hope that it will help you kick off your day on a contemplative, thought-provoking, but always life-affirming note.
November 29, 2017
How the Mr Men have kept me company for forty years
It seems that the Mr Men series of books are in my life to stay. After our youngest underwent his initiation, we packed them away thinking that our grandchildren will be next. But, no, those books, many of which have been in my possession for forty years, are back out in full force. My love affair with the Mr Men began in 1977, when I was only seven years of age. My grandmother was then living in Coventry and I expressed a desire to visit her. And so, that summer, I flew to stay with her in a quaint suburb of the city. The Queen was visiting Coventry on the day I landed. Elvis Presley died during my vacation. But none of that could compete with my discovery of Mr Bump, Mr Uppity and their friends. ‘I am lonely, and I want to go home tomorrow,’ I said to my grandmother that first night. ‘Of course,’ she said, ‘we’ll have you on the first flight. But first, let me read you one of these.’ There, in her hand, was a bunch of little white books which I have to this day. She read Mr tickle and I was hooked. I went to sleep knowing that I was staying put for the summer. In that moment, I entered a new world of humorous and heartwarming characters. Slowly but surely, I amassed the full collection of books. At the core of each was a lesson in good manners, compassion and courage. Their seeming simplicity belied a depth of moral truth…Read more
November 11, 2017
The return of mob rule
IN the words of Ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes, ‘the mob is the mother of tyrants’ and anyone who has ever witnessed the terrifying frenzy of a mobilised mob will know that he spoke the truth. Mobs operate outside the law and according to no accepted values. They are dangerous, destructive and diabolical in the way they treat their targets. When unleashed, the mob is a monster that can cause mayhem and murder. And how easy it is to whip one up: simply choose a scapegoat and blame that person or group for the ills of society. The Nazis did it with the Jews and it led to nothing less than the Final Solution. This is what journalist Hugh Greene, of the Daily Telegraph, wrote after witnessing the events of Kristallnacht – that infamous night in November 1938, when the Nazis unleashed their wave of terror against German Jews: ‘Mob law ruled in Berlin throughout the afternoon and evening and hordes of hooligans indulged in an orgy of destruction. I have seen several anti-Jewish outbreaks in Germany during the last five years, but never anything as nauseating as this. Racial hatred and hysteria seemed to have taken complete hold of otherwise decent people. I saw fashionably dressed women clapping their hands and screaming with glee, while respectable middle-class mothers held up their babies to see the “fun”.’ The so-called ‘fun’ was Jewish shop windows being smashed to smithereens. It was the sight of once-respectable Jewish citizens being kicked, punched and lynched by their former neighbours and ‘friends’. It was the mob, foaming and raging with fanatical fury. Such is the essence of the mob mentality: ordinary decent people losing all sense of right and wrong, striking at the scapegoat as though possessed…Read more