Monday 19 December 2022

My World Café - The missing chapter

My World Café.

My book has 28 chapters. There were supposed to be 29, but on legal advice, ‘Rainbow Trout’, was removed. Here is a redacted version to make it impossible to trace the person I am writing about and to allow you to see the wonderful drawings Laura Davis made to accompany this story. I think it was the most political of all the chapters since it sums up the limits of our ‘democracy’. After reading this you can purchase the book here.

Rainbow Trout

To taste right, fish must swim three times – in water, in butter and in wine.  Proverb

Rainbow trout, or Oncorhynchus mykiss, was given its name by 18th Century German naturalist, Johann Walbaum, and was based on fish found in the rivers of the Kamchatka Peninsula in Siberia. The genus name is from the Greek onkos, hook and rynchos, nose – a reference to the hooked jaws of mating season males. Common to rivers and lakes in the North Pacific, they were introduced to the UK in the early 20th Century. They can weigh as much as 14 kilos. 

My childhood years in London were a time of post-war food rationing, but there was never a shortage of fish. During the war, sea fishing had been restricted and, after years of recovery, our coastal seas had plentiful shoals. There were cod, mackerel, skate, haddock, plaice and eels. I would go with my mother every Thursday to the fishmonger. On Saturdays I would accompany her to buy live eels, netted from a large metal tank. My father loved them, but my favourite was the mackerel which my mother cooked in butter and salt. 

Nothing was wasted. After the fish were fried, grilled or baked, fish pie followed the next day with any leftover vegetables. Once a week we had breakfast kippers, smoked herring served with poached eggs on toast. I always looked forward to it as a break from the daily fry-ups. 

My first memory of eating fish outside the home was when, aged seven, my father took me to a fish-and-chip shop in Bromley High Street. I was fascinated by the gurgling oil vats and loved the smell of sizzling fish. He ordered battered cod for us both, the chips wrapped in a page from the Daily Mirror, paper cones sprinkled with salt and dribbled with vinegar. 

Eating cod and chips will have been common to many readers of my generation, but few would have eaten other sea fish such as salmon, halibut, Dover and lemon sole. In the 50s, these were rarities, which only made it into the mouths of the well-to-do. 

This was also true of freshwater fish. While researching this chapter, I discovered that in England and Wales there are 40,000 miles of rivers, but less than 4% have public access. The person who owns the riverbank also owns the fishing rights. 

As a member of the well-to-do middle class, I was sent to Canford Public School in Dorset. For American readers, ‘public’ equals private. There I fished on the River Stour which ran through the school grounds. My favourite spot was below the weir. Using a spinner, I caught pike, roach and the occasional brown trout. I can still see in my mind the eight-pound trout which the school chef cooked for me, and which I shared with my friends. It was a rare break from the weekly fishcakes. 

Many years later, I was working in the former Yugoslavia. I fished for fresh water trout on the River Krka, north of Šibenik, and, while holidaying on the island of Krk, sea trout. When I was living in Mostar, my friends and I would visit Blagaj, on the River Buna. There is a fish farm there with its own restaurant serving fresh trout. It was one of my greatest epicurean pleasures to sit close to the source of the river, gushing out 200 metres below the sheer cliff above. Close by is a Dervish monastery, known as a tekija. 

I had a very different trout experience when visiting New Mexico with Anne. Before leaving Taos in the northern part of the state for her home-town of Las Cruces, she bought a Native American drum with a buffalo painted on its skin. We set off on the road south and stopped to eat at a restaurant beside the Rio Grande. There I ate rainbow trout for the first time. In its cooked state, it reminded me of salmon; its texture was firm and meaty, if you’ll pardon the expression. After our meal, Anne climbed the hill behind the restaurant and pounded her new drum. Far below us, there was a group of kayakers. They stopped paddling, looked up, waved and hollered at us.

The next time I ate trout was a more serious experience, that lacked the spirit and joy of eating beside those two rivers. I was helping to organise medical programmes in Croatia and Bosnia, when I received a call from the House of Lords. It was Lord Trout – a pseudonym – inviting me to lunch. He said he wanted my advice on a medical project. This was not an invitation I was eager to accept. I had no desire to be hosted by an aristocrat in the unelected chamber of Parliament, the last bastion of Britain’s feudal past. But when he said he was an involved in Kosovo, as an advisor to hospitals, how could I refuse? 

Before I left for the lunch, I checked out Lord Trout’s background. The family’s large estate is located on the banks of a river with some of the best fishing in the country. During our meal, I was looking for the opportunity to tell him my fishing joke. 

Before our meeting, I hadn’t looked up how to address him. Was it, Your Lordlship, Your Grace, Your Honour? I went for the option of calling him nothing at all. Arriving at the entry to the House of Lords, I said that I was a guest of Lord Trout. I was quickly taken past the long queue of those waiting for a tour of the building and escorted to the Peers’ Dining Room. I was handed over to the maître d’ who took me to a table by a window overlooking the Thames. He pulled out a blue leather chair, its backrest embossed with the House of Lords’ emblem. 

What can I get you to drink while you wait for his Lordship?”  I’ll have a beer, please. A lager.”  I looked up at a large portrait of a steely Lord Palmerston, glower- ing down at the diners. I felt he was looking at me with a ‘What in hell’s name are you doing here?’ I remembered Shelley’s words about his fellow Ulsterman and political mentor in The Masque of Anarchy: 

I met Murder on the way –

He had a mask like Castlereagh – 

Very smooth he looked, yet grim; 

Seven blood-hounds followed him 

I’m sorry I am late. Debate in the chamber. Have you ordered a drink?” I stood up and shook Lord Trout’s hand. “Let’s order our food, and then I can tell you why I invited you here. 

What would you like to start with?” I scanned the menu. “Baked ham hock with pickled shallots for the starter, please. For the main, I’ll go for the rainbow trout.” “Wise choice. The fish here are very good. I’ll join you.”I looked at the prices. A greasy spoon breakfast at a Holloway Road cafe cost more. Very cheap”, I said. Subsidised, of course", was his Lordship’s reply Of course. The waiter came to take our orders.“Ham hock and trout for my friend. For me turtle soup and trout.”  Then Lord Trout looked at me. “Head?”  Sorry?” Do you want the chef to leave its head on?”“Off, please.”

He handed the menus to the waiter. “No head for my friend. Leave mine on.”I then asked him how I could help him with his work. “I was told your charity supply diabetic medicines for children in Bosnia. I have been asked to advise on setting up a maternity unit in a town in Kosovo. I need to know how many beds will be needed.” 

I’m afraid I have no idea, but I suspect a ratio will help you.”“A ratio?” “Based on the town’s population.”"That’s very interesting,” he said and opened his notebook to start writing.  You could contact the British Medical Journal or The Lancet and check if they have any information.” He continued scribbling, “Very interesting, thank you.” Or you could contact the World Health Organisation.” He nodded. “Of course.”  I asked if he had been to Kosovo. He hadn’t. “You could ask them how they managed before the war.”  Very interesting. Thank you so much.” He scribbled a bit more, then closed his notebook. 

The trout, when it arrived, was perfectly cooked. Brushed with oil, grilled whole with bone-in and stuffed with sliced lemon and herb sprigs. The skin was crisp, the flesh moist and flaky. It was served with red cabbage and sour cream.  Coffee on the terrace?” his Lordship asked.  Before leaving, we exchanged pleasantries, and I wanted to tell him my joke, but decided it was best that I didn’t. But here it is for you. 

A farmworker was caught by a gamekeeper fishing on the river that ran through the grounds of the local landowner. Hauled before the landowner, he was told that he was trespassing.  Why, is it your land?” asked the farmworker.  It’s been in my family for generations, from the time of my great-great-great grandfather,” replied the Lord.  How did he get it?” asked the farmworker.  He fought for it.”  The farmworker raised his fists. “Well then, let’s fight.” 

I don’t eat much fish today. In this country, fish stocks are increasingly contaminated by mercury, dioxins, pesticides, raw sewage and micro-plastics. Trout remains a memory of a privileged childhood and a fixture in a House of Privilege. On my way out from the Lords, I passed a line of wheelchairs with name tags of their owners on each one: Lord W, Lady X, Earl Y, Bishop Z. Hopefully the Lords, both spiritual and temporal, are on their last legs. 


4 rainbow trout

4 lemons, sliced into halves

2 limes, sliced into quarters

800g red cabbage,finely shredded

12 asparagus

olive oil

4 tbs butter

2 glasses dry white wine garlic

4 tbs chopped parsley salt and pepper


Slice each fish along the backbone. Place the cabbage and oil in a saucepan, sprinkle with salt and cook for five minutes. Meanwhile, place the asparagus in an oven dish and coat with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lime juice. Cook for 15 minutes. Place sliced lemons and limes inside each fish, add garlic slices and cook in butter for 2 minutes on each side. Place the cabbage on each plate, and top with the fish. Add the oven-roasted asparagus set to one side. Serve with new potatoes.

Wednesday 5 October 2022

A Day in Camden Town


Spent today in Camden checking out venues for the London launch of ‘My World Cafe’. Started at Camden Guitars, Deicola Neves’ guitar shop. He will play for us at the event. 

Difficult to drag myself away from the place. Spoke in Engtalian with musician and guitar-maker maestro, Claudio Menci. 

Then met up for the first time in many years with bass guitar player Alex, from Georgia (not the ‘on my mind’ one). 

Had to check out the new
Wejam studio in the basement, where I met David Tshulak who introduced me to his work. He runs music-making sessions for everyone and anyone, most recently for Down’s Syndrome people. Here you can see his simplified four-string guitar. 

Then onto Brazilian restaurant, Made in Brasil, with Deicola, to check whether their picanha, which features in my book, is as good as I claim. It is.

INFO ON   My World Café

Friday 26 August 2022

The Wrong Jew


The Community Security Trust, Jewish Leadership Council and Board of Deputies describe the election of Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi to the Labour Party NEC as “a backwards step in tackling the toxic legacy of anti-Jewish racism”. Jewish News declares that her election is ‘sparking anger amongst mainstream communal organisation.’ As co-founder of Jewish Voice for Labour, she and the JVL are accused of anti-semitism.

Of course what angers them is her support for Palestine and her belief that Israel,“use the suffering of Jews to excuse the suffering of Palestinians.”

I think this is a moment to understand that this bile against a Jewish socialist is representative of a right-wing Zionism that has never been at the centre of religious or secular Judaism.

The founder of Zionism at the end of the 19th century, Theodor Herzl, was an admirer of the British Empire and wrote to Cecil Rhodes, founder of the white settler colony named after him, “You are being invited to help make history. It does not involve Africa but a piece of Asia Minor, not Englishmen but Jews … I turn to you … because it is something colonial ..”

Chaim Weizmann, who suceeded Herzl: “Should Palestine fall within the British sphere of influence and should they encourage Jewish settlement … we could develop the country, bring back civilisation and form a very effective guard for the Suez Canal.”

You don’t have to be a Jew to be a Zionist. Prayers at the US Embassy, on the day Donald Trump moved it to Jerusalem, were delivered by Robert Jeffries, a Dallas megachurch pastor who said Hitler was sent by God to drive the Jews to their ancestral land.

The Jewish opponents of Zionism could be found at the same time as Herzl in the Jewish Bund, founded in 1897 in Poland and Russia. They stressed the principles of, socialism, secularism and doyikayt or “localness.”

Doyikayt was encapsulated in the Bund slogan: “There, where we live, that is our country.” One of their early leaders, Viktor Adler, declared “Bundists wish to shatter the existing economic frameworks and show the Jewish masses how a new society can be built not by escape, but by struggle. We link the essence of the Jewish masses’ life to that of humankind.”

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi is part of that tradition and perhaps her election allows us to hear their voices, both past and present, more clearly.

Albert Einstein; “The (Israeli) state idea is not according to my heart. I cannot understand why it is needed … I believe it is bad.”

Sigmund Freud: “I concede with sorrow that the baseless fanaticism of our people is in part to be blamed for the awakening of Arab distrust. I can raise no sympathy at all for the misdirected piety which transforms a piece of a Herodian wall into a national relic, thereby offending the feelings of the natives.”

Erich Fromm, social psychologist: “The claim of the Jews to the Land of Israel cannot be a realistic political claim. If all nations would suddenly claim territories in which their forefathers lived two thousand years ago, this world would be a madhouse.”

Primo Levi, a survivor of Auschwitz: “Everyone has their Jews and for the Israelis they are the Palestinians”.

Marek Edelman, one of the leaders of the1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising compared the Palestine resistance to ZOB, the Jewish fighters in Warsaw.

Hannah Arendt, political scientist: “The trouble is that Zionism has often thought and said that the evil of antisemitism was necessary for the good of the Jewish people.”

Martin Buber, Israeli philosopher: “How great was our responsibility to those miserable Arab refugees in whose towns we have settled Jews who were brought here from afar; whose homes we have inherited, whose fields we now sow and harvest; the fruits of whose gardens, orchards and vineyards we gather; and in whose cities that we put up houses of education, charity and prayer. . ”

Isaac Asimov, novelist: “I find myself in the odd position of not being a Zionist ... I think it is wrong for anyone to feel that there is anything special about any one heritage of whatever kind.”

Harold Pinter. On Israel’s 60th anniversary said, “We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state founded on terrorism, massacres and the dispossession of another people from their land."

Uri Avnery, ex-Israeli army officer: “What will be seared into the consciousness of the world will be the image of Israel as a blood-stained monster, ready at any moment to commit war crimes and not prepared to abide by any moral restraints.”

Daniel Barenboim, Israeli pianist and conductor: “I don’t think the Jewish people survived for 20 centuries, mostly through persecution and enduring endless cruelties, in order to now become the oppressors, inflicting cruelty on others.”

Lenni Brenner, writer and civil rights activist: “The Zionist leaders were uninterested in Fascism itself. As Jewish separatists they only asked one question, the cynical classic: 'So? Is it good for the Jews?'”

Richard Cohen, US columnist: “The greatest mistake Israel could make at the moment is to forget that Israel itself is a mistake … the idea of creating a nation of European Jews in an area of Arab Muslims (and some Christians) has produced a century of warfare.”

Henry Siegman, Rabbi and director of the U.S./Middle East Project: “Israel has crossed the threshold from ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’ to the only apartheid regime in the Western world.”

Prof Norman Finkelstein: “Every single member of my family on both sides was exterminated. Both of my parents were in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. And it is precisely and exactly because of the lessons my parents taught me and my two siblings that I will not be silent when Israel commits its crimes.’

Richard Falk, former UN special rapporteur on human rights, called Israeli policies in the Occupied Territories “a crime against humanity.” Falk also has compared Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to the Nazi treatment of the Jews.

Alexei Sayle: “Israel is the Jimmy Saville of nation states.”

Miriam Margolyes: “My support for the Palestinian cause is fiercer because I am Jewish.’

Noam Chomsky, “The last paradox is that the tale of Palestine from the beginning until today is a simple story of colonialism and dispossession, yet the world treats it as a multifaceted and complex story—hard to understand and even harder to solve.”

Monday 22 August 2022

Thursday 11 August 2022

Enough is Enough

British Gas announces £1.3 billion profit between January & June 2022

BT announces £6.96 billion profit between April & June

Shell makes £9.4 billion profit per year


National Grid’s John Pettigrew, received a £6.5 million bonus on top of his salary

British Gas and Centrica CEO, Chris O’Shea, received £2 million last year in salary and benefits. Centrica’s non-exec directors were paid almost £1 million last year in bonuses

Thames Water’s Sarah Bentley, received a £727,000 bonus on top of her £2 million salary

Scottish Power’s, Keith Anderson, is paid £1.15 million

Eon boss, Michael Lewis, is on £1 million

EDF’s Simon Ross, gets £1 million, and their top execs shared £4.65 million last year

Anglia Water’s Peter Simpson, is on £1.3 million

Seven Trent bosses shared a £5.56 million bonus and Welsh Water bosses shared £930,000


There are more foodbanks than McDonalds in the UK

Oh and energy costs are set to rise by up to 75% in October. Or are they?

Saturday 30 July 2022

My World Café's illustrator

My World Café is now with the publishers, Riversmeet, and the book designer, Roelof Bakker. My collaborator, artist Laura Davis, has completed her drawings for the book and they are so good that maybe the title should be "illustrations by Laura Davis, with some words by David Wilson." Check these out.


more information here ...


Wednesday 20 July 2022

Letter to Jeremy Corbyn


Dear Jeremy,

You have said that, “My election as leader in 2015 was a major shock in British politics. It wasn’t about me, but a popular demand for anti-austerity politics following the 2008 financial crisis and 35 years of market fundamentalism.”

Yes Jeremy, and I was one of the many who joined the Labour Party to support you. You had seized the spirit of the time and were toppled from the leadership by a ghoulish gang of back-stabbers, ably supported by the media, from the BBC to The Guardian.

The much delayed Forde Report lays this out in detail.

- The secret diversion of campaign funds by senior HQ staff in the 2017 election to right-wing candidates.
- The purge of socialist party members.
- The rigging of internal votes.
- A ‘hierarchy of racism and discrimination’.
- Disgusting accusations of anti-semitism against you which resulted in the expulsion, not of anti-semites, but of many Jewish members.

You rightly conclude that, “this report should help us see a path forward. The politics of the many, not the few, are more needed in this country than ever. We suffer a cost of living scandal while billionaire wealth soars and climate breakdown accelerates while fossil fuel companies boast record profits.”

They tried to break you, but they failed. You have personal strength and the knowledge that you speak for the many. You have rightly invoked the. words of Percy Bysshe Shelley for your, and our, inspiration,

Rise like lions after slumber
In unfathomable number
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep have fallen on you –
Ye are many, they are few.

Sunday 12 June 2022

Living with Shadows


Living with Shadows by Merilyn Moos

I am delighted that Socialist History Journal are publishing my review of this book

On the cover of this book is a photo of Ossip Zadkine’s statue in Rotterdam called The Destroyed City. Merilyn’s parents took her to see it as a ten-year-old child. She was never quite sure why they had crossed a stormy sea and walked through a rainy city to reach it, but it showed “screaming defiance against those who had torn out its heart”. To her, it also appeared to be holding up an invisible world. These are two determining factors in the author’s own life: defiance and the struggle to build a better world.

Merilyn Moos has spent her life haunted by shadows. “Not,” she writes, “B-movie ghosts in gothic hallways, but something emanating a sense of death.”

A distant relative of Albert Einstein and daughter of German refugees, she was born into a home of secrecy and paranoia. Her parents had lived under Nazism and Stalinism. Her father, Siegi, was a member of the Red Front and was a leading figure in anti-fascist agit-prop. He witnessed sailors declaring a Soviet on the steps of Munich Town Hall in 1918. After the Reichstag fire, he escaped the Gestapo by walking across Germany. 

Her mother, Lotte, followed her Irish communist lover to the USSR and felt guilty that she may have contributed to his death. He was sent to Spain at the time of the Civil War there. In a postcard she wrote to him, she praised the leftist, anti-Stalinist POUM. He was kidnapped, sent back for ‘trial’ in the Soviet Union, accused of Trotskyism and died in the gulags. She never stopped mourning him, or blaming herself, for what she had innocently written.

Her parents arrived separately in the UK where, in 1940, Lotte was incarcerated in Holloway Prison as a German spy.

Merilyn’s parents were burdened with regret and guilt. Her mother shut her bedroom door and found refuge in writing plays and poems, while her father expressed himself with painting.

This short memoir is a penetrating and personal reflection on her early life in Durham. She communicates to the reader how much of our lives are determined by the cultural and political shadows we inhabit and absorb. 

For my father culture and politics were inseparable . . . our house was a bit like an expressionist museum. On one wall was a relief bust of the revolutionary, Alexandra Kollontai . . . over other walls hung my father’s paintings. Dark and dramatic . . . they were clarion calls against injustice and inequality.”

Of her mother she writes, “If annoyed my mother would not speak to me for days, sometimes weeks . . . she did this without telling me what she was upset about. I was terrified . . . I felt unreal and without any right to exist . . . I learned not to speak to her. Sometimes, as the three of us sat eating a meal, she said to my father, ‘Tell Merilyn,’ and then he would.” 

Merilyn found her own comfort in books and, as an adult, in her sculptures and her own political activism. She thought she was rebelling against her parents’ politics, only to discover how similar hers were to theirs. She acknowledges that she has spent her life carrying the baton passed to her by her parents. 

After many years as a trade union militant in further education, Merilyn started to write about her family history. She first wrote about her parents in an earlier book, The Language of Silence, but in recent years, she has dealt with the history of anti-Nazism within the German working class to help counter the view there was no significant German resistance. 

This book has photos of Siegi’s paintings and Merilyn’s sculptures.

I have known Merilyn for fifty years and have solidarity for her politics, activism and determination to face painful truths.

David Wilson

David Wilson, author of Left Field and co-founder of War Child

Tuesday 17 May 2022

When is evacuation surrender?


'I don’t lose my hope', says wife of Azov soldier

Sky News, along with the BBC, The Guardian and much of the MSM, are reporting (17 May) that the Ukrainian soldiers inside the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, have been 'evacuated' and that the area has been 'ceded' to the Russians. Evacuation is a new word for surrender and ceded a new word for defeated. Sky News sympathetically interviews the wife of one of the Ukrainian fighters and clearly identify her as the wife of a member of the Azov Regiment. In the words of Wikipedia these are "The Special Operations Detachment "Azov", also known as the Azov Regiment and the Azov Battalion, is a neo-Nazi unit of the National Guard of Ukraine based in Mariupol in the coastal region of the Sea of Azov, from where it derives its name.”

I will be accused of being a Putin-supporter for writing this, but as a leftist, I trace my politics back to those who Putin hates. The irony being that us leftists used to be accused of taking Russian gold. Today our politicians are weighed down with the stuff, while at the same time arming Nazis and misinforming the public as to what is going on.