Society Today – Why Are They Begging?

Society Today, Vol. 1, No. 2, November/December 2005 This is the question on our lips when we walk past a man or woman huddled in the doorway of a shop front like some desperate animal, wrapped in a dirty blanket clinging to it for warmth, hiding a face smeared with grime and shame, and clutching […]

Roof – Child Soldier

Roof, Shelter’s Magazine, October 2008 Imagine this. You are forced from your bed at gunpoint in the middle of the night, tied up and dragged off, half-naked and barefoot, into the wilderness. You are made to walk for twelve hours, then permitted to rest, but for no more than two hours, on hard ground, on […]

Roof – The Broken-Hearted

Roof, Shelter’s magazine, September/October 2006 The plight of the homeless first really dawned on me when I was twenty-one and living in America. My friend, Justin, and I were fast running out of money and needed work: we’d prepaid the rent on a short-term let – a poky studio flat just big enough to swing […]

A Descent Into Darkness

It was the beginning of 2007 and life ambled along until the darkness struck, creeping up on me like a dense black cloud and then raining down on me, upon which my world was turned upside down for good. I was thirty-four years old, still single, and wondered whether I was destined to be a […]

I Aspire to Be Downwardly Mobile!

William Styron, in his wonderful short story, Shadrach, describes how his young ten-year-old protagonist loved the Dabneys because they were happy to bask in “casual squalor”, possessing a total absence “of the bourgeois aspirations and gentility which were my own inheritance.” This inheritance is ours also, every Briton’s, Thatcher’s free market crusade and promotion of […]

The Equality and Humanity of Communal Showers

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks gave his Thought for the Day yesterday on BBC Radio Four. His principal observation was the crucial sanctuary which places of worship provide from the demands of a success-obsessed modern world. It might matter what car you’re driving or what brand you’re wearing outside a church, mosque or synagogue, but once inside […]

What Does it Mean to be a Man Today?

I’m due to become a father soon, and the following question is becoming increasingly pertinent in my mind: what does it mean to be a man today? As a young boy, I imagined that I’d make myself into a man by being rational, analytical, controlled, steadfast and independent. I would exercise these uniquely male characteristics […]

The Tabloids Bay for Blood

There was something deeply troubling in the recent tabloid coverage around the murder of Joanna Yeates when police called in her landlord. One red top argued that because he, Chris Jefferies, had a penchant for the avant garde – for literature and cinema which was deliberately obscure, challenging and unorthodox – this pointed to his […]

Independent on Sunday – Forced To Murder, Aged 10

Independent on Sunday, New Review, 7th December 2008 I first met Ojok Charles in August 2006. I was travelling in Central and East Africa, specifically Uganda, on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. I was researching my novel, which is set amid the prolific brutality of the region, and I was looking for characters. Within […]

Staple – Getting In Print – the need, the sweat, and just a little luck

Staple, No. 69/70, Summer/Autumn 2008 Getting in print is damn hard these days, and you’re always going to need a little luck! If you’re not a celebrity – and preferably one that is a chef, model, singer, footballer, media pundit or talent show judge – then chances are you’re going to struggle. And even if […]