Notes From the Margins…
Posts for Europe Category

History, Peace, and Beauty: On Barcelona’s Ramblas

  • August 18, 2017
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Of all the massacres perpetrated in Europe in the name of Islamic State, yesterday”s slaughter in the Ramblas has a particular personal resonance for me. I spent nine years in Barcelona, living near the Ramblas for part of that time. Even when I moved further away from downtown Barcelona, hardly a week went by in which I didn”t pass through it. This is because the Ramblas has a special place in the life of the Catalan capital. It”s where you go to meet people, at the Café Zurich at the top of the Ramblas,...

The United Kingdom of Insecurity

  • June 20, 2017
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According to conventional political wisdom the first duty of a democratic government is to afford security and protection to all its citizens.   This objective is often misleadingly conflated with the notion of ‘national security’ – a principle that supposedly incorporates the duty of protection but actually often overrides it.  National security isn’t...

Mayday! Mayday!

  • May 02, 2017
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There are some politicians who look better from a distance, and Theresa May  is definitely  one of them.  May and her advisors are clearly aware of this, and they have done their best to shield her anything approaching close scrutiny. They have refused to let her participate in political debates. In an absurd attempt...

The Anglo-Spanish War

  • April 02, 2017
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One thing about political reality – in the end you can’t avoid it.  You can try, as Theresa May and her weird little Brexit government have been doing for the last eight months or so.   You can beat your rhetorical chest and bare your teeth.  You can threaten this and promise...

2016: The Year of Living Fearfully

  • December 28, 2016
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There was a time – it seems many years ago now – when governments in the Western world told their populations that things were getting better, and that they were helping them to get better.   In those days voters by and large believed them, and made their political choices from amongst a cluster...

Burkini Madness

  • August 25, 2016
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Anyone who has travelled in France this summer will have found it difficult to ignore the   the ongoing state of emergency with which the French state has responded to Daesh’s savage provocations.     In Banyuls-sur-Mer, we found the main road by the beach guarded by armed soldiers, presumably mindful of a repeat...

About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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