how I failed to get into Birkbeck… essay on Rattigan

Terence Rattigan, Edward Carson and a campaign for justice. A playwright may go out of fashion almost overnight, and that happened with Terence Rattigan in 1956. He had been, for twenty years, London’s most successful playwright: at one point, three of his plays were running concurrently in three adjoining theatres in Shaftesbury Avenue. His first … Continue reading

Michael Fassbender acted in my play

I was thrilled when the actor – and very famous comedian – Mel Smith really liked a play I had written about Winston Churchill and Michael Collins in 1921, and was keen to act in it. He had been shown the script by Brian Gilbert, the film, theatre and TV director, who had become my … Continue reading

Can a rapist be a great man?

Can a man be both a rapist and a person of acknowledged greatness? The question has been asked about the film director Roman Polanski, who stands accused of being both a paedophile (in the technical sense) and a rapist, since the young girl in question was only 12 years old at the time.             But … Continue reading

Let gay men marry…older women

A friend of mine, who is a gay man, was explaining to me that he was once engaged to be married to a lady. “She was lovely,” he said. “I was mad about her.”      One way or another the proposed engagement didn’t materialise. The lady was the loser. He is a terrific guy, and … Continue reading

Occasions of Sin: Sex and Society in Modern Ireland.

By Diarmaid Ferriter Profile Books Ltd, London Every society we know has tried to exercise controls over sexuality and its consequences. In Jewish culture, to be born out of wedlock was to be punished “unto the fourth generation”. In the Soviet Union – which only fell in 1989 – homosexual acts were punishable either by … Continue reading

What really happened in Dublin at Easter 1916

Speaking recently to the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, the Taoiseach of the Irish Republic, Mr Brian Cowen, invoked “the spirit of 1916” to urge businessmen to bring the country through the present economic gloom. The “spirit of 1916” – being the founding myth of the Irish state – is often invoked in Ireland to prompt … Continue reading

The Literature of the Irish in Britain

Edited by Liam Harte Published by Palgrave Macmillan . ISBN 978-1-4039-4987-5 Price £50. This is an expensive academic book, yet for anyone interested in immigration and emigration, working-class (as well as more privileged) lives, personal memoir, and just a wonderful chronicle of the way things were, it is one of the most absorbing, and meticulously … Continue reading

Why the Act of Settlement should Go

It was suggested in the spring of this year by Gordon Brown’s administration that the 1701 Act of Settlement should be reformed in two ways: female heirs should be made equal with male heirs, so that primogeniture – the first-born of whichever sex – should inherit (this is now the case in Sweden, where Princess … Continue reading