This section contains a series of extracts from my years of feature writing for The Sunday Times,
The Observer and the Daily Mail, and my four books…


The Real India

An extract from India Exposed …In the next three years we crisscrossed the subcontinent, seeing the best and enough of the worst, each time returning home to be cross-examined by friends who wanted to know what India was really like. That’s easy—it’s a paradoxical, untenable, unjust, disparate, chaotic mishmash of languages, religions, philosophies, tribes, classes, Read on…

Solving the Troubles

Londonderry, August 12th, 1969 – An extract from The Battle of Bogside In January, Lt.-Col. Colin Mitchell told The Guardian’s Terry Coleman that he would send round a list of 100 suspected terrorists. ‘And you just start shooting them; by the time you have knocked off ten, take my word for it, the other 90 Read on…

The Man Who Boiled His Garden

Halifax, Yorkshire. September 1st, 2001 – An extract from Lost in the Reptile House The grey-green Yorkshire hills were lashed by an easterly wind so vicious it was blowing chickens backwards, but in a sultry greenhouse near Huddersfield filled with two thousand onion seedlings, the face of Donald Kaye rose though a gap in the Read on…

Seeking Patience Strong

Somewhere in Southern England. December 7th, 1981 – An article from The Sunday Times Patience Strong, it can be safely said, is the pseudonym for an enigma of an undisclosed age who, after a lifetime of the unexplained, lives anonymously at a secret address somewhere in England. As for the rest, it’s all a bit Read on…

Seeking Aliens with the UFO Watchers

Cley Hill, Warminster, July 7th, 1979 – An article for The Observer We were joined by Chris Trubridge who threw grass in the air to test the wind, though nobody liked to ask why. “I’m really a nuts and bolts sort of character,” he said, “but I’ve seen things. Last November I was chatting to Read on…

Returning to Drink After Six Years of Abstinence

London – An extract from Lost in the Reptile House The breaking point came, however, accompanying Odette Hallowes to Ravensbruck camp for a ceremony commemorating executed S.O.E. colleagues. This was the woman who never talked, (despite being starved to six stones, having her toenails removed and her back branded, thus earning her the George Cross), Read on…

Locking out Mrs. Thatcher

Chelsea, London, October 10th, 1976 – An extract from Lost in the Reptile House To hell, cracking the Thatcher image had by now become a personal mission; though she might appear bionic she had to be subject to the same quirks of nature as normal humans, and I set my heart on recording the occasion Read on…

Dr. Sheldon Rosenthal does a Facelift in LA

Los Angeles, February 9th,1981 – An article for The Daily Mail He moved to a side room and scrubbed up, shouting insults about the basketball scores with a passing breast implant salesman, while Ann and Lesley tied a blue paper gown over his green one, added a paper hat patterned with purple flowers that was Read on…

Richard Rawley, Drifter

Green River, Utah, February 21st, 2000 – An extract from Talk to me, America I turned from the waitress trying to find me a working salt cellar and there through the window, disappearing into the gloom, was a gaunt-framed figure bowed under the weight of a shoulder pack, walking north up Route 191. “I’ll be Read on…

Day One of The Troubles

Londonderry, August 12th, 1969 – An extract from Lost in the Reptile House But as for trouble, there was more on the last day of the Chelsea Flower Show and by lunchtime I’d gone through three rolls which wouldn’t make the Derry Journal on a slow news day. Then around two thirty, one of the Read on…