Monday 1 May 2017


Sometime in March 1950, I was conceived. For various reasons, my parents’ sense of timing was pretty wonderful. Here’s a brief quote from Robinson (to be published on 8 June) – Robinson has just asked a question (‘Why are there not more crazy people running amok with machetes or second-hand Kalashnikovs?’) and now he wants to ask another:

‘And here is Robinson’s supplementary question; or rather, it’s the same question but framed more specifically. To get the frame in place, he needs me to confirm certain data. Yes, I own the house that I live in, and it was bought for a fraction of the price it’s now supposedly worth. Yes, I am white male. Yes, I went to university on a grant, the government actually paid me to go to university. Yes, I have had a number of not-bad jobs and a couple of them had the kind of pension schemes that are now pie in the sky and my health has been well attended to by the NHS – who only this week have sent me a fun-looking bowel-cancer screening kit – and I now have a state pension and a free bus pass. No, I have never had to fight in a war. That is not a small thing. And then his question: why do my children not rise up and smite me?’

May 1st 1997 – twenty years ago today – was a sunny day in London. Our children’s birthday party was held in the back garden. It was polling day in the general election; the atmosphere was expectant and became celebratory as what began in the afternoon as a children’s party continued into the night and the early hours of the following day as a party for the grown-ups. Some of the other parents stayed very late, barely believing what we were seeing on the TV screen as the election results came in. Children were sprawled asleep on cushions around the room. They were going to be safe, they were going to live in a good place. Everything was going to be hunky-dory.

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