You Want It Darker


The regular mechanisms of political narration are breaking down. The pollsters lose confidence in their methods, the pundits struggle to offer authoritative explanations for events that they laughed off as wild improbabilities only months before.

Pockets: A Story for Alan Garner


There was a jigsaw we had when I was five, a map of Britain with illustrations of the places that matter. Two of these lodged in my imagination: the limestone wonder of the Cheddar Gorge, and the great dish of the radio telescope at Jodrell Bank. 'We know the people who live next to Jodrell Bank,' my mum told me, and this seemed a magical proposition. It was.

Labour Through the Looking Glass: 15 Early Morning Speculations on the Corbyn Surge


I keep thinking of Landon Kettlewell, the dot com entrepreneur from Cory Doctorow’s novel, Makers. At the start of the book, he has just bought up the exhausted shells of Kodak and Duracell. To an audience of puzzled Silicon Valley journalists, he explains that these companies have history, infrastructure, administrators, facilities, supplier relationships, distribution and logistics. All they...

The Friendly Society: On Cooperation, Utopia, Friendship & the Commons


We are looking at a photograph from Amsterdam, 1868, thirty or so men in black and white. Even in the flesh, they would be black and white: black overcoats with blacker collars, faces pale as November and framed by various symmetries of facial hair, top hats like a row of chimneys. Despite what the hats might suggest, these men are workers, craftsmen, dressed in their Sunday clothes, outside a...

The Only Way Is Down: 18 Thoughts on the UK Election


So, good morning. I’m afraid it’s true: that nightmare you had, it wasn’t a dream. Let yourself feel the shock, the rawness of disappointment sharpened by sleep deprivation. If you ached for an end to five years of government by the rich, for the rich, then what you are feeling today is a blow to the soul. Stay with that for a while, before the pundits and the candidates in the coming leadership...

The Shield of Perseus


‘Julian and Theo met among a million protesters in a rally by chance.’ The camera glances across a collage of news clippings on the wall of the house in the woods. Among them, an ageing photograph of a sea of placards, the slogan familiar: Not In My Name.