24 November 2014


Tonight's Radio 4 PM news programme had a feature on pauses (a few minutes ago). but no one there had asked me to go on the show.

Nor had anyone bothered to ask me about how pauses work in conversation, speaking, presenting - whether on radio, television or everyday life.

Maybe the trouble is that there's no one at the BBC - including PM presenter, Eddie Mair (above), who has read any of my books. 

If he, they (or you) had done so, they'd/you'd have a fair idea about how pauses work in a wide variety of different settings. If the feature continues tomorrow, there's plenty of time to phone me or perhaps even read one of them.

I'm not very optimistic, but watch this space.

(P.S. note the quadruple alliteration in the title).

18 November 2014

Watching highlights from the third 2010 election debate makes me wonder (again) whether they're a good idea

The third Prime Ministerial debate

I've just been watching David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown (above) slugging it out in the prime ministerial general election debates (HERE ) and wondering whether we'll get to see and hear Messrs Cameron, Clegg and Miliband in 2015?

One thing I'd forgotten was that the BBC website magazine had asked me what I thought about the debate (notes under the above video clip).

But they haven't yet asked me what I think should happen in 2015 - even though I've blogged extensively about why I think it's not a very good idea.

I hope that, given my former associations with Paddy Ashdown, the Liberal Democrats, critical comments elsewhere on this blog about Messrs Cameron and Miliband, etc. the BBC doesn't think I have any political bias.

One of the things I take considerable pride in is the fact that none of my books, including the latest one published last month (Seen & Heard) is anything other than politically neutral.

7 November 2014

Is anyone serious about getting rid of Ed Miliband - other than the Tories and other parties?

How Ed Miliband lost his winning hand

Ed Miliband Faces A Fight To Save Its Scottish MPs
The Spectator (headline above, picture to left) was only one among many in the media, not to mention Labour MPs, Twitter - and almost everywhere else - discussing the barmy idea that a party leader can be safely disposed of as few as six months away from a general election.
On BBC's Question Time last night, Charles Kennedy (who knows at first hand what it's like to be deposed as party leader) spoke interestingly about Margaret Thatcher. He didn't mention the fact that she was deposed in plenty of time for John Major to establish himself as the new leader and then go on to win the next general election.
Nor did Mr Kennedy say anything about the fact that his predecessor, Paddy Ashdown, deliberately timed his resignation mid-way between general elections in order to give the new leader (Kennedy) time to establish himself with the wider public before having to lead the Liberal Democrats into the next election - and to go on to increase the party's number of seats in the House of Commons.
Regular readers will know that I've had my doubts about Mr Miliband's public speaking and presentational       style for the last four years. 
Wrong choice the Labour Party may have made when it elected him as leader after losing the last general election, but to suggest that he should pack it in now - whether by jumping or being pushed - is, to say the least, completely potty. In fact, long words fail me when it comes to commenting on the current pseudo-furore!

4 November 2014

The LibDems have a new 3 part list!

Wind farms infographic from the Lib Dems
I am grateful to Mark Pack for drawing my attention to this new slogan - for which I was not directly responsible, even though the third item is longer than each of the first two!

For those of you who, unlike me, didn't have their eyes tested yesterday, the list is as follows:

  • Stronger Economy.
  • Fairer Society.
  • Opportunity for Everyone.
As for why a longest third item is a good idea, all is (at least partially) explained in my books.

As for the main message about the growth of wind power, I fear that my brother and his wife will not approve - for reasons best known to Christopher Booker...

26 October 2014

The gloomiest day of the year - yet again!

Repeat of a post from 24th October 2009:

If you find the darker afternoons that start tomorrow a depressing and pointless exercise, you might be interested in an article in The Times a few days ago (HERE for the full story from last year).

Apart from relieving the gloom, not putting the clocks back tonight would reduce electricity consumption by 1-2% and save NHS expenditure on dealing with accidents and emergencies:

“During an experiment 40 years ago, when British Summer Time was used all year for three years, there was an average of 2,500 fewer deaths and serious injuries each year. Opposition from Scotland contributed to the decision to return to putting the clocks back in winter.”

If putting the clocks back is such a big deal for the Scots, why don’t we let them do it on their own, especially now they have their own parliament in Edinburgh?

A different time zone in Scotland might be marginally inconvenient for the rest of us, but no more so than it already is when trying to plan meetings in other EC countries.

24 October 2014

Time for a bigger slit on Poppy collection boxes - yet again - to mark the anniversary of WW1


It is now nearly 5 years since I first notified the British Legion about how they could collect even more cash than usual - and yet more in this centenary year of the outbreak of WW1 - but they have still failed to take any notice of my sound advice. See here

If you agree, how about mentioning it to them, if only because they appear to be a bit hard of hearing?

22 October 2014

NEW BOOK: dreaming of selling a million!

Whenever I've written a book, I always dream of it selling by the million. In fact, I doubt whether anyone would ever write a book at all if they knew how few people would ever actually read it.

In this respect, I count myself as very lucky indeed, as Lend Me Your Ears: all you need to know about making speeches and presentations has become an 'international bestseller'. My earlier Our Masters' Voices: the language and body language of Politics didn't do too badly either and is still available 30 years later. My more academic books also got noticed by appropriate audiences in sociology, psychology and linguistics

But in none of these cases had the internet developed anywhere near to where it is today - with e-books, Kindle and yes, hard copies too!

This blog has, according to Ayd Instone, publisher of my latest book, so far been made up of slightly fewer words than Tolstoy's War and Peace and slightly more than Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens.

But after editing it down to a similar length to that of Lend Me Your Ears it becomes a more manageable length and gives readers the advantage of not having to gaze at a screen for hours on end.

Needless to say, I'm still dreaming of selling a million, hoping that you loyal blog readers will help to pave the way and that some of you will write 5 star reviews on Amazon...