SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
Colin Brazier

June 09, 2021
The BBC is under siege. The big guns are circling the corporation and its increasingly hard-to-justify license fee of £157 per year. The corporation is certainly giving its enemies plenty of ammunition. The scandalously shoddy journalism which secured BBC reporter Martin Bashir his infamous Princess Diana interview is only part of the story. More damaging
May 04, 2021
I bumped into Michael Nazir Ali at an airport a few years ago. He was everything you’d expect a former Anglican bishop to be; charming, self-effacing and erudite. Over the years, our paths crossed on television too. The Karachi-born clergyman was, for a time, a regular on Sky News. On several occasions I asked colleagues,
April 29, 2021
I read a story about the great 20th century novelist, Graham Greene, and it stopped me dead. The thing that stayed me where I stood was its account of Vivienne Greene’s reaction to the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. One brilliant account of the Catholic novelist’s life published to wide acclaim last year catalogued, among
April 20, 2021
When the death was announced recently of the actress Helen McCrory, it came as a surprise to all but her immediate family and friends. The secret of her illness was kept so well that when she did a TV interview six weeks before her death, nobody suspected anything was amiss. Indeed, the interviewer – Kate
April 12, 2021
Were Prince Philip’s gaffes contagious? For a brief moment in 1999 it felt to me like they were. A cameraman and I had spent the day at Spion Kop, the site of the famous Boer War battlefield. The Duke of Edinburgh was being given a tour there and afterwards, summing up his day on camera,
March 29, 2021
Group Captain Geoffrey Leonard Cheshire VC (1917 – 1992 ) RAF bomber leader, who later formed the ‘Cheshire Foundation Homes’ for the incurably sick in many countries. (Sept. 1944 Photo by Keystone/Getty Images) Where is the still small voice of calm when the air is rent all around? Or, put another way, when you are
March 22, 2021
Last year I gave up Twitter for Lent. This was a forfeit of limited sacrifice. A bit like a Vegan forswearing bacon. A year ago I scarcely used the world’s most influential social media tool. But now that benign-looking blue bird has got its claws into me. Oh for a digital cilice – to prick
March 16, 2021
Better a pope than a king? A president over a prime minister? Who has the right to tell us how to lead our lives and who do they speak for? What is legitimacy? That last question lies at the heart of the British monarchy’s recent exposure to the warped logic of cancel culture. It arises
March 02, 2021
Will Meghan Markle stop at two children? It’s a question raised by an interview her husband, Prince Harry, gave in the summer of 2019. He told Vogue magazine then that the Sussexes would have “two, maximum”. Any more than that, he indicated, would be to put an unnecessary burden on the environment. His words at
February 16, 2021
There are many reasons I miss going to Mass. The unsociable hole left behind by its absence for one. A Mass can bring together people who otherwise wouldn’t run into each other. Ours, after all, is a broad Church. And sometimes those weekly encounters with strangers can become the foundation for firm friendships, like the
February 09, 2021
My eldest daughter called me last week. She was elated. After months of being cooped up at home she had finally made it to her London university library, which had just reopened. It’s a measure of how bad things have got that a student doing her finals can register euphoria at readmission to a building
February 02, 2021
On a leafy track in the Home Counties last week I heard gunfire followed by screaming. Turning a corner, I saw a Land Rover, seemingly on fire, with two bodies lying on the ground. A plot from the Midsomer Murders? Well, fiction was certainly at work. The fire was just a smoke bomb, the blood
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,
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