Opinion / Writing and Language

Darroch and Diplomacy (2)

Imagine that you have invited a friend to stay in your house for a few months. All proceeds nicely. Then suddenly you read in the local papers that your friend has been sending emails to his friends describing in some accurate detail the failings of your house and making sharp, […]

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Junk Management

My latest piece at DIPLOMAT looks at how performance is assessed and rewarded (or not) in the modern public sector. Despite (or maybe to compensate for?) the horror that is the modern British government of sullen bureaucracy and shabby clothes, British diplomats tend to work hard and loyally. They trudge […]

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President Trump D-Day Speech

Here is the full text of President Trump’s D-Day speech. And here is the video of him delivering it: It’s a momentous piece of work. Of course, there is remarkable material to work with – the drama of the Normandy invasion and what was at stake, and the scale of […]

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Chess and Philosophy

I head towards the end of my Master’s degree programme with University of Buckingham. My paper will be on What is Chess?  The problem with philosophy is that one issue drifts inexorably into another and it’s next to impossible to write something self-contained that is not either hugely over-detailed (boring) […]

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Gender Categories and Philosophy

Here’s a question. What are some philosophical aspects of the increasingly bewildering ‘gender identity’ battlefield? Here is a transgender weight-lifter setting new records: The organization Save Women’s Sports also drew attention to Gregory on Facebook. “Mary was born a man and is very proud of this cool new trophy from […]

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Diplomatic Visits

My piece at DIPLOMAT magazine on the trials and tribulations of organising diplomatic visits appears. Thus: Visits come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they’re largely symbolic– a senior gesture to show that the bilateral relationship is warm and alive, but not much more than that. Sometimes there’s serious diplomatic business […]

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Bad PowerPoint Rules

Peruse the Internet for advice on how to create a good PowerPoint presentation and you find different Rules. One famous Rule is the 10/20/30 rule promulgated by venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki: It’s quite simple: a PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than […]

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Public Speaking – Where to Start?

So there I was, giving a cheery masterclass in public speaking and presenting to international officials from different parts of the wide UN family. And I made an early fateful mistake. I asked them: “You’re asked to prepare a speech for your boss – where do you start?” A hand shot […]

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Philosophy

Blimey. Nothing here since mid-September. What’s happened? I’ve been running around from Austria to South Africa to Turin to Armenia to Austria to Netherlands and finally to Scotland. One fine masterclass after another. When I’m travelling like this my creative writing juices dry up. Plus I’ve been grappling with my philosophy […]

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Wittgenstein and Chess

Ludwig Wittgenstein! There’s a name for us newbie philosophy fans. Wittgenstein burst into the tranquil Cambridge life of the then mighty philosopher Bertrand Russell and was soon arguing with him intensely about the presence or absence of a rhinoceros in the room. Or was it a hippopotamus? Wittgenstein often used […]

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