SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
Colin Brazier

January 19, 2021
My 16-year-old daughter is studying politics at A-level. I wasn’t sure it was the right subject for her. But – in between lockdowns – she comes home with stories of ideological spats in the common room that took root in the classroom; a sign, perhaps, that her interest in the course is catching fire. Endearingly,
January 12, 2021
I enjoy a lively old-fashioned pen-and-ink correspondence with an 82-year-old friend. She was an Oxbridge undergraduate in the 1950s and part of the pleasure in receiving her letters is in savouring the diction and idiom that fill them. Her stories are full of people who don’t avoid booze, but “forswear” it, and travellers who bought
January 04, 2021
“One death is a tragedy, a million deaths are a statistic.” Coinage of the world’s most heartless quotation is disputed. But most agree that Joseph Stalin was sufficiently indifferent to human misery on an industrial scale to make him the likeliest author. As a journalist I recognise the hideous paradox coiled-up within that quote. Important
December 28, 2020
If you’re a driver, do you remember how it felt when you passed your driving test? That sense of freedom. How weird it felt moving off with nobody in the passenger seat? Just you and the open road. My 17-year-old daughter, Agnes, had that experience this month. Her test was in Salisbury, medieval cathedral city,
December 17, 2020
Nothing against Chapter House, but my son’s not a fan. He’s only 11 mind you, and not a keen observer of the religio-political social media landscape. So I can say, without fear of discovery, that his Christmas stocking has a guiding theme this year: space. Perhaps it was that long car journey to Scotland in
December 12, 2020
Early next year Japan will commemorate the tenth anniversary of the tsunami that claimed more than 10,000 souls. Most of the victims were drowned by a wall of water which rose to more than 100ft in height and travelled up to six miles inland. A few days after the tsunami struck I arrived to report
November 30, 2020
Is there still a place for the word “widow”? Has it become, to use the modern jargon, “problematic”? And, if it is, what – if anything – will take its place? I pose the question as a widower myself. That, and 30 years in the business of trying to choose the right words to describe
November 25, 2020
I’m self isolating with the five of my children who still live at home. My fourteen-year-old, Gwen, received a positive Covid-19 diagnosis a few days ago. There was no arguing the point. Her test was part of a pilot scheme organised by scientists at Porton Down, a few miles from the school she goes to
November 16, 2020
At journalism school thirty years ago, the police who caught the Yorkshire Ripper were held up as an object lesson in how not to break news of an arrest. At fault was their announcement on TV that – in not so many words – they’d solved the crime. For detectives whose efforts to find Peter
November 09, 2020
At the weekend parents in Scotland lost the right to “reasonably chastise” their children. In a couple of years they’ll be followed by their counterparts in Wales, when the principality introduces its own ban on smacking children in 2022. Devolution, it turns out, isn’t just about taking a different approach to Covid-19. Sweden was the
November 02, 2020
Remembrance Day will look different this year. This may not be the end, but it may be the beginning of the end for the poppy. Covid-19 restrictions have made them more difficult to find. Many of the veterans who sold them are shielding. Places where you would buy them are shut or, like offices, depopulated.
October 26, 2020
Why I Am Still a Catholic was published in 2006 by Continuum. It was a lovely idea and beautifully realised. It was an anthology of essays by Catholics in public life, all of them answering the question posed by the book’s title. It was edited by the former Catholic Herald editor, Peter Stanford, who succeeded
January 04, 2021
The number of Scottish drug deaths has doubled – doubled – since 2014. On average, three Scots are dying from drug misuse every day. The majority are men, though not young men. The median age at death is 44.
May 27, 2020
It’s a time for long books. I’m halfway through War and Peace. Hilary Mantel’s latest is next, an act of literary devotion which requires that I put aside her anti-Catholic polemicising. No such doubt attaches to the third and final volume of Charles Moore’s biography of Lady Thatcher. The prose glitters with the author’s diffident
August 15, 2019
Eighteen months ago I was having lunch with a well-known columnist and contrarian, when conversation turned to predictions. In particular, where the next front in the culture wars might open. Neither of us had foreseen the rise of militant veganism, nor the formation of a vocal lobby advocating transgender rights. So, he wondered, what engine
March 01, 2018
Colin Brazier writes on how his family is dealing with his wife's terminal cancer diagnosis
March 01, 2018
On the strength of a Catholic Herald review my wife, Jo, recently bought With the End in Mind by the hospice doctor Kathryn Mannix. Having now read it myself, I can attest that this is a book deserving the highest praise. With a wisdom born of 30 years of clinical practice, Dr Mannix helps to
February 15, 2018
The biblical scholarship of the Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson is one of several reasons why he is one of the most original voices to emerge in the global marketplace for ideas. Here is someone who lives out his erudition. It makes him as formidable on television as he is engaging in print. If you haven’t
February 01, 2018
It’s not all glamour, TV. My most recent outside broadcast took me to Rushden in Northamptonshire and its sprawling plastic recycling plant. The cold, unremitting wind, din of machinery and the whiff of something of indeterminate origin, had me scurrying for the sanctuary of our mobile satellite truck between on-air segments. It meant half a
January 18, 2018
Our friend, let’s call her Winifred, came to lunch last week. Winnie is a former teacher who was recently widowed. Her late husband once edited the local newspaper in the town closest to us. He was a kindly and inspiring man whose writing did not end with retirement. There was something of the Laurie Lee
January 04, 2018
JMW Turner said it is only when we cease to be fearful that we begin to create. This has to be true and may be growing more so. Creativity often requires divergence from accepted norms. This is not to sit in praise of the transgressive, which can often be banal. But it is to acknowledge
December 14, 2017
Monday morning and Mass at St Edward King and Confessor in Clifford. I share my pew with a man who welcomes me warmly with a voice redolent of the playwright Alan Bennett. In this part of Yorkshire people of a certain age refuse to yield an inch of diction to Estuary English. Consonants remain as
November 23, 2017
If you were ejected from your home at gunpoint and forced to walk to the safety of another country, what’s the one object that could not be abandoned? I’m told that for refugees fleeing Burma it tends to be the family solar panel. These panels are the costliest purchase many dirt-poor Rohingya have made. They
November 09, 2017
This month our youngest child, John-Jo, begins his First Holy Communion course. It is a mini-milestone. His five older sisters have been there already. I wonder how mid-life would feel without these temporal punctuation marks. The life of a child provides the over-40s with a vicarious aide memoire, anchoring the passing years with landmarks. Theirs,