Wednesday, 30 March 2022

My World Café - introducing Laura Davis


Riversmeet will be publishing my new book, My World Café. Here is 

their first blog about it.

It is a stew of food stories, memories and recipes from around the world, ranging from popcorn to borscht, apple strudel to burritos, baklava to teriyaki. Each chapter includes a brief history of the food, a personal memory and a recipe. I am delighted that it is a collaboration with the artist,  Laura Davis, who will be illustrating the book.


Here is an excerpt from the chapter on “Strozzapretti”:


Originating in Perugia, strozzapreti is hand-rolled pasta which roughly translates as ‘priest-strangler’. One explanation is that gluttonous priests so loved the pasta that they ate it too quickly and choked themselves. Another explanation is that women offered the pasta to churchmen as payment for land rents. Their husbands were so angered by venal priests eating their wives’ food that they wished the priests would choke on it. The most likely reason to me is that it was common practice for priests to visit parishioners’ homes after Sunday Mass and when the hosts tired of his visit, they would serve this ‘rough’ pasta to let him know that he had overstayed his welcome. 


My World Café is my second book. Left FieldThe Memoir of a Lifelong Activist was published by Unbound in 2016.David has lived a life and a half. The broken world needed people like David; it still does.” —Sir Tom Stoppard  “This is an excellent and inspiring book. David is an adventurer and a freethinker, who did something truly useful with his life.” —Brian Eno




"Riversmeet focuses on high quality writing, performance and teaching which engages with contemporary issues by linking the past to the present."


Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Solidarity with the people, not their leaders


Eighty years ago 1.2 million Jewish people were murdered by Nazis and their collaborators in Ukraine. Ukrainians, such as the infamous Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka, were among the most notorious guards at Auschwitz and at other Nazi death camps. 

The most notorious massacre of Jews was at the Babi Yar ravine outside Kiev where more than 33,000 Jews were killed in a single operation on 29–30 September 1941. 
Many thousands of Roma met a similar fate. 

The dead died, but the ideology that brought that about lived on, festering in the living earth above their corpses and ashes, waiting for the opportunity for a resurgence. That opportunity is now. 

In 2014, a Ukrainian neo-Nazi militia called Azov Battalion was formed to combat Russian separatism. It was incorporated into the national guard, and is today an official part of the Ukrainian military. Azov members wear uniforms carrying the neo-Nazi Wolfsangel symbol, which resembles a black swastika on a yellow background. The photo above is of Azov commander, Major Denis Prokopenk, saluting the Wolfsangel.

Volunteers have arrived in Ukraine to join them, a perverse echo of the International Brigades at the time of the Spanish Civil War. American, Canadian and European neo-Nazis have travelled to Ukraine to fight. Welcoming them Azov’s political leader, Andriy Biletsky, stated that, “The historic mission of our nation in this critical moment is to lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade for their survival.”

In recent days reports have appeared of Azov soldiers preventing people from leaving cities, and of Roma and LBGT people being tied to lampposts and smeared in paint.

Meanwhile the Ukrainian government has outlawed Leftist parties.

OK I am asked what would you do if you were in Ukraine? 

Thirty years ago I was in Sarajevo, a city under siege. I was there in solidarity with the people of that city. The city's fighters were not on the frontline for President Alija Izetbegović or his political party. They were certainly not there risking and losing their lives to enrich the President’s family and other local oligarchs. They were there to defend their homes and families. And they were certainly not saluting any flags. 

Sunday, 20 March 2022

Oligarchs and Fascists


Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy has suspended eleven opposition parties, using the same ratonale Putin invokes – they’re subversive with ties to our foreign enemies. 

They are mostly left-wing or representing the 30% of Russian-speaking Ukrainians. The largest one, Opposition Platform, aren't a small party - they polled around 10% at the last free election.

After an earlier ban on three TV stations the head of the Ukrainian Union of Journalists, Nikolay Tomilenko said , “The deprivation of access to Ukrainian media for an audience of millions without a court order is an attack on freedom of expression.”

We hear a lot about Russian oligarchs, but very little about Ukraine’s, one of whom is Zelenskyy himself. With houses in London and Washington he has funnelled his $millions through the British Virgin Islands. Whichever way this war goes he’ll be OK. Here is an article from The Guardian.

The President ended his speech banning the parties with these words. “Glory to all our heroes”. These ‘heroes’ include actual Nazis who have become a part of state institutions, particularly in the military. 

A friend recently said they were fed up with hearing about these Nazis. Me too. We need an oligarch and Nazi-free world before it’s too late. This is why

Tuesday, 15 March 2022


Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in

 one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.” George

 Orwell, 1984

I have read that over 100,000 people have been killed in Yemen as well as 85,000 dead as

result of ongoing famine. More than eighty UK companies are exporting arms to

Saudi Arabia for use in this carnage.

Meanwhile Boris Johnson is in Saudi Arabia, not to seek an end to all

 this, but to ask for increased fuel to replace Russian supplies which

 have been stopped because of Russian carnage in Ukraine. He is also

 no doubt, finding time to promote the interests of those eighty UK

 merchants of death.

This hypocrisy goes without comment in the MSM. Why?

There are victims and victims. We have arrived in 1984 where fact-

based evidence is abandoned and those who, two weeks ago, couldn’t

 point to Ukraine on a map, let alone spell its President’s name,

 proudly display the Ukrainian flag and have become geo-political

 experts. They have abandoned nuance and ambiguity. 

Mention the stationing of NATO troops and missiles in Eastern

 Europe; the U.S. involvement in the ouster in 2014 of Ukraine

 President Viktor Yanukovych, and the involvement of openly Nazi

 militias and you are dismissed as a Putin apologist. 

Mention that Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy is a billionaire

with houses in London and Washington and you will be shown photos

of French President Emmanuel Macron with Zeleneskyy stubble and


If I was to put a blue and yellow strip on my timelines it would have to

be joined by so many other flags you wouldn’t be able to see my face.

That’s lucky because I’d look like Munch’s Screamer.

Peter Oborne: A Tale of Two Wars

Sunday, 6 March 2022

No More Heroes


Thank you rapper Lowkey for alerting me to this information about The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy. Former actor and comedian. he has rapidly taken on ‘pin-up’ status in the media as he leads his country’s opposition to the Russian oligarch Putin.

It now seems he might never have gven up his acting career as The Pandora papers suggest Zelenskyy may not be the “People’s saviour” after all, but has a career somewhat similar to that of the Russian President. 


The Pandora documents suggest he had – or has – a previously undisclosed stake in an offshore company, which he appears to have secretly transferred to a friend weeks before winning the presidential vote. According to its findings, two of the offshore companies belonging to Zelenskyy’s partners were used to buy three lavish properties in central London.

Zelenskyy said his goal as President was to destroy “the traditional oligarchic order” and to replace it with a “fairer system”. His critics say Zelenskyy has embraced the same shadowy ways as his predecessors.

Wars involve a bloody struggle with a foreign enemy. But the real enemy is war itself and those who benefit from the bloody affair. They are often closer to home than we are told.

These kids can see that and have acted on their knowledge and wisdom.


Solidarity with the people of Ukraine who are in immediate danger.


You can read more in The Guardian and from Al Jazeera.

Friday, 4 March 2022

Stop the Warmongers




Italian writer Paolo Nori was informed by the University of Milano-Bicocca of their decision to postpone his course on Dostoevsky following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. "Dear Professor, the Vice Rector for Didactics has informed me of a decision taken with the Rector to postpone the course on Dostoevsky … This is to avoid any controversy, especially internally, during a time of strong tensions."

Nori commented, "Not only is being a living Russian wrong in Italy today, but also being a dead Russian, who was arrested in 1849 for belonging to a literary group that discussed banned books and spent four years in a Siberian prison camp.”

In the UK, Manchester’s Centre for International Contemporary Art, Theatre and Film states that “we are in discussions” about removing a statue of Engels in solidarity with Ukraine. It is unclear how toppling the statue of a German philosopher who died in 1895 (22 years before the Russian Revolution) can soothe the wounds of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

We may take satisfaction at the seizure of Russian yachts following the aggression against Ukraine, but might remain puzzled that this has never happened to American yachts following multple US aggressions.

The absurdity of this unbalanced Russophobia is par for the course for those of us who have to take cover from the logic applied to opponents of wars. Just look at the silencing of the few remaining socialist MPs when told they must not be aligned with Stop the War Coalition because it is anti-NATO. The fear we have when criticising Israel’s occupation of Palestine for fear of being accused of anti-semitism.

Right now the situation is dangerous for Ukrainian lives and for the future peace of the world. We must emerge fron our mental bunkers and take to the streets – against Putin’s war and against NATO’s wars - past, present and to come.

If you are tempted to say “what do you know about war, you cannot speak for the people of Kyiv and Kharkiv.” My answer is f..k you. I was in Sarajevo when that city’s people were under bombardment and living and dying under similar conditions.

Our task is not to stop drinking vodka ot reading Russian novels. It is to stop the warmongers wherever they are. So solidarity with Ukraine, with the anti-war movement in Russia and join me at the protests taking place this weekend.

Lindsey German of Stop the War Coalition on this weekend’s protests - here


Ex-UKambassador Craig Murray on Putin and NATO - here


(photo taken in Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina in 1993) 

Billionaires are killing us - literally



Perhaps the attention now being given to Russian oligarchs will direct us to the damaging effect billionaires have on our world today. Here is a list of the ten richest men in the world taken from Forbes magazine.

Ѕtеvе Ваllmеr: ($61.6 b), former CEO of Microsoft

Lаrrу Еllіѕоn: ($63.9 b), co-founder Oracle

Ѕеrgеу Вrіn аnd Lаrrу Раgе: ($68 b $67 b), founders of Google

Саrlоѕ Ѕlіm Неlu: ($72 b), with 40% holdings in Mexico Stock Exchange

Аmаnсіо Оrtеgа: ($81 b), owner of fashion label Zara

Маrk Zuсkеrbеrg: ($84 b), founder of Facebook

Wаrrеn Вuffеtt: ($102 b), CEO of Berkshire Hathaway

Віll Gаtеѕ: ($106 b), Microsoft founder

Веrnаrd Аrnаult: ($107 b), Chairman of LVМН, mаnufасturеr оf luхurу gооdѕ

Јеff Веzоѕ: ($140 b), founder of Amazon

Here are the ten richest Russians who, you will notice, are poverty-stricken by comparison to the list above.

Alisher Usmanov (19.5 b), investor in Facebook and Chinese electronics company company, Xiomi

Suleiman Kerimov ($15.8 b), owner of distressed companies and gold producer, Polyus

Pavel Durov (7.2 b), creaor app Telegram

Andrey Melinchenko (17.9 b), owner of fertilizer company Eurochem and coal company Surek

Gennady Timchenko ($22 b), gas producer Novatek and petrol company Sibur

Leonid Michelson, ($24.2 b), gas producer Novatek and petrol company, Sibur

Vagit Alexperov ($24.9 b)m founder of Lukoil

Vladimir Lisin ($26.2 b), majority shareholder in Novolipetsk Steel

Vladimit Potamin ($27 b), organiser of private takeover of state companies

Alexey Mordasov ($29.1 b), CEO steel company Seversta

Craig Murray former UK ambassador states that.  “Usmanov is the UK’s wealthiest man ...Through New Labour and the Tories Putin’s right-hand man has always had the special protection of the British state. I have never understood why …. Usmanov helped Putin suppress Russia’s free media through compulsory purchase …. I sent a classified report on his criminal activities from Tashkent”.

Robert Reich, economist and former US Secretary of Labour has commented recently, “When I graduated in 1968 the typical corporate CEO got twenty times the pay of the average worker. When I became Labour Secretary in 1993 the ratio was 61-to-1. Today it’s 320-to-1. Capitalism is off the rails.”

Boris Johnson has spent six holidays at this Tuscan villa as the guest of Russian billionaire, Eugeny Lebedev. Just one reason why Usmanov and other Russian oligarchs have been given eighteen months to move their ‘sanctioned’ monies.

I would recommend reading this from Craig Murray. He has moved from being brave whistleblowing diplomat to articulate investigative journalist.

Thursday, 3 March 2022

Solidarity with Russian anti-war movement




A new coalition of anti-war socialists has formed in Russia. In the run-up to the @ProgIntl Forum for Peace. Here is a translation of their manifesto.

“We are told that opponents of this war are hypocrites - that they stand not against the war, but for the West. This is a lie. We have never been supporters of the United States and its imperialist policies.”

Replace the words ‘West' with ‘Putin' and 'the United States' with ‘Russia' and you have Keir Starmer’s words about Stop the War Coalition.

Solidarity with the anti-war movement in Russia. We have everything in common with them and nothing but contempt for the Putins and Starmers of this world