In a long life I have on a number of occasions been asked to address various groups graduating from school or university or making the transition from one stage of life to another – for instance, new recruits in a company or first-time members of a national sports team.

On such occasions, especially with graduating students, I have tried to strike a note which emphasises the opportunities which lie in store and the qualities which are needed to take advantage of those opportunities – at the same time exhorting the aspiring young people to seek achievements through teamwork and, their success achieved, never to forget those who have fallen by the wayside and the less fortunate who need help.

I have often made the point also that there is bound to be an element of chance and not just choice in the future that awaits so one had better grasp good fortune when it comes along – and I liked to quote the Australian poet Les Murray:….


Beware the self-righteous

One of the worst aspects of the self-righteous is that those most guilty of it most vociferously deny that they are guilty at all.

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It is tragic to see a great nation bringing itself to its knees.

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Thinking, already, about the next general election

In a vibrant democracy elections should be a cause for celebration, an ever welcome occasion regularly marking the successful outcome of what in any country’s history has always been a long struggle to overcome authoritarian, and often brutal, rule.

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What poetry teaches

I find it difficult to convince friends – or anyone – that poetry is worth reading.

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Travelling by the book

My tutor at Cambridge, Professor Nick Hammond, authority on the history of ancient Macedonia and on the life of Alexander the Great, used to coach me on what he called “exercises of the mind.” He knew I played tennis for the university and he put it to me that just as I trained hard for the tennis so should I stretch to exhaustion the muscles of the mind.

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