Category Archives: Autobiography

Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie

People have told me that they’ve heard a song of mine and it’s changed their lives. Now I can only believe that or disbelieve it, but I know what it is to feel that, because I’ve felt that way myself … Continue reading

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Franz Kafka’s humanity

At 40, Franz Kafka (1883-1924), who never married and had no children, walked through the park in Berlin when he met a girl who was crying because she had lost her favourite doll. She and Kafka searched for the doll … Continue reading

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TV Review: This is going to hurt ~ TV series (BBC1 catch-up) (Ben Whishaw)

This is going to hurt’ is based on Adam Kay’s best-selling book.1 It’s autobiographical and Whishaw brilliantly portrays him. The series is a searing drama about the brutal realities of a maternity ward. It revolves round child birth meaning a … Continue reading

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John von Neumann:* aversion to exercise

Equally, von Neumann had no interest in sport and, barring long walks (always in a business suit), he would avoid any form of vigorous physical exercise for the rest of his life.  When his second wife, Klari, tried to persuade … Continue reading

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Mario Puzo* On Gambling

Gambling is not as destructive as war or as boring as pornography. It is not as immoral as business or as depressing as watching television. And the percentages are better than religion. * He wrote The Godfather

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Louis exploits Richard’s good nature

Louis Armstrong once asked Richard Nixon to carry his bags through customs for him because he ‘was an old man’. The bags had marijuana in them.

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Black Lives Matter: Miles Davis 1959: New York City

Background Miles Davis was a jazz superstar. In this encounter, with a red neck policeman in New York City, it made no difference. All that mattered was white supremacy and the power of the badge. The officer wasn’t sacked for … Continue reading

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An Awkward Question

Harpurhey, north Manchester, is a poor area, and was in the 1950s and 60s as I grew up. Rows and rows of terraced houses, with no bathroom or indoor toilet, straddled the Rochdale Road. There were no luxuries, but my … Continue reading

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J B S Haldane, scientist, organises his very own After Life

“He [Haldane] had left strict instructions about what was to be done with his body. ‘I hope that I have been of some use to my fellow creatures while alive,’ he once wrote, ‘and I see no reason why I … Continue reading

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A Pen Portrait of Dylan Thomas (about 1936)

“That cruel giggle is the thing I best remember about him. He told me how as a boy he delighted in tearing the wings off flies. I said it must be a difficult thing to do. Dylan replied, ‘Maybe I … Continue reading

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