Just imagine – a world without crime

The other day I had a meeting at my bank, and before any discussion could take place, I had to give my date of birth and my memorable date and answer other security questions. A few days earlier, as I was walking through a London square, a little child of, perhaps, two or three years old ran up to me as I walked past and put his hand in mine. His parents called him back – “Say goodbye now”. I...
read more

The silence of solitude

About twelve years ago I sold my flat, gave away many of my belongings, and embarked on a nomadic life. My conscious aim was to live more lightly on the earth, to go where I was led. It was only in hindsight that I realised that at the root of my journey was a need to move, as the Dutch priest, Henri Nouwen, puts it*, from loneliness to solitude. My life has been very peopled – with...
read more

First there was a book…

First there was a book… Journey Home (O Books) came out of my anger about homelessness and the way we treat asylum seekers in this country. But, as always, in the writing, my original concept expanded to include stuff that was a lot more personal. Such as the fact that I have refugees on both sides of my family. Way back, in the seventeenth century, when my father’s Huguenot family had to...
read more

Freedom of Conscience

The centenary of The Military Service Act on 27 January has brought into focus the whole question of conscription and conscientious objection. The Act included a special clause, drafted by Quakers, which for the first time allowed exemption to military service on the grounds of conscience, and thousands of men applied. But there was little consistency or fairness in the way the tribunals...
read more

Playing the game

This morning I gave a demo of my boardgame, Journey Home, as part of a mini-festival at Hackney Museum. One session was so remarkable that I wanted to record it. The aim of the game is to “go home”, which is achieved, as you move through events in the different stages of life, by accumulating counters representing the different strands of “home”: shelter, family,...
read more

Why do I write?

Why do I write? Because I can do no other. I usually say that I only started writing 13 years ago – when I wrote my first book. But that’s not strictly true. Like many others, I wrote stories and poems as a child. I nearly had it driven out of me by studying literature at uni – with the common feeling that it’s all been said, that there’s nothing to say. When my children...
read more