Recently by Roshan Doug
I see that the recent gang rape of a young Indian woman in Delhi is still creating a stir.
The incident (which subsequently led to the death of the victim) has become a catalyst for social change in India. It's become a wake-up call for the entire nation to reconsider its attitudes to women and sexuality. In the last two or three weeks, for instance, along with civil protests, everyone - from Indian politicians to film stars - has been echoing his dismay and indignation at what occurred. The people are demanding that the judges sentence the men to death (the trial begins this weekend).
But I'm not so sure.
REVIEW: Kris Kristofferson
Birmingham Town Hall
Very few singers write more beautifully than Kristofferson - that's a fact (even Willie Nelson acknowledged this in one or two of his songs). But last Wednesday evening, a part of me was also a little concerned as to whether this artist, I had idolised, would actually live up to his reputation. He is, after all, in his mid-seventies and the quality of the voice might not be what it once was.
To say that I shouldn't have worried would be a tad disingenuous.
Review: The Wind in the Willows
The Rep. (Birmingham)
Alan Bennett's adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's classic children's story (directed by Gwenda Hughes and presented at The Crescent Theatre) is nothing but a wonderfully charming, sleek, entertaining production.
Review: Squeeze, Pop Up Shop
I think it's a fact that anyone who hasn't seen Squeeze perform live has not experienced the spirit of New Wave at its best.
Without resorting to clichéd superlatives, the band's current 'Pop Up Shop' tour is - both in terms of music and vocals - quite simply dynamic and brilliant.
REVIEW Kabaddi Kabaddi Kabaddi, by Satinder Chohan
The title of Satinder Chohan's new two-act play is 'the ancient sport of our forefathers' played primarily in the Indian subcontinent.
As you know, this week, Birmingham's International Convention Centre will be the venue for the Conservative Party conference. No doubt many will welcome this for it's going to bring extra revenue and business for the second city though, I'm afraid, we'll have to contend with Harriets and Henrys wandering around the place carrying copies of The Times and The Daily Telegraph.
And so, to a degree, that's all happy and good.
But, sadly, the city centre has still got a long way to go before it can put itself on par with other major European cities.
Let me explain.
I know you're on a mission: you want to denounce everything that has gone on in education in the last 25 to 30 years specifically in regard to teaching and learning. You are worried that hardly anyone knows their 12 times table or can recite an iconic poem like The Charge of the Light Brigade.
It sounds like a tall order but you are determined to reject the received wisdom about effective pedagogy from left-wing educationalists like the former Birmingham Chief Education Officer, Tim Brighouse. You might remember him; he was a 1980's maverick who implemented fresh strategies for effective teaching and classroom management, thereby inspiring a generation of future teachers/head teachers.
Clearly you, as an education secretary, are not one of them.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that talks of the Queen or Prince William seem to make everyone rather giddy with excitement as if they're in a trance.
In a court of law they'd be guilty.
I saw a silent, solemn Church procession going by yesterday heading towards the local church on my road. It was a re-enactment of the crucifixion scene with men dressed as Roman centurions and others carrying a large wooden cross.
It got me thinking...
It's a late winter's afternoon and rather dark outside. I'm on a bus, coming home from the city centre. I'm financially depleted - again! - having shopped in stores out of my league and bought stuff I clearly don't need.
An elderly couple - wrapped in scarves and oversized coats - are seated in front of me carrying a couple M&S bags. They're like the remnants of the forties, a by-gone age when mono-cultural certainty was shared by all. They're talking, commenting on a news item in the Metro that reminds them of their own alienation. 'And they're teaching soaps - stuff like Coronation Street,' says the man to his wife, appalled at the state of the world and bemoaning modernity. 'Coronation Street! - can you believe it?'
The wife nods sympathetically - a tad disgusted as if her husband has just announced that he wants to eat a teacher for dinner washed down with a glass or two of cabernet sauvigon. 'No!' she exclaims horrified. 'Well, that's just ridiculous!
I am the recipient of a reality check.
Just when I was beginning to think that the members in the House of Lords were a bunch of snivelling, retired captains of industry without any real political clout or impetus to challenge the government, they suddenly surprise me.
This week, for instance, I was delighted when the House of Lords rejected the government's Welfare Reform Bill headed by Iain Duncan-Smith of the Conservative Party on behave of the Coalition government.
They've got the bottle after all.
Last Tuesday the European Court of Appeal denied Britain's judicial right to deport Abu Qatada, the radical cleric described, as 'Bin Laden's right hand man in Europe'. Britain wanted to extradite him to Jordan, where he has been convicted of involvement in terrorist attacks. But he appealed a couple of years ago and now the ECA's ruling will make it almost impossible to hand him over to Jordan.
Handsworth Wood: this morning my area - my very neighbourhood - was shaken once again by the sound of violence. Last summer it was the riots in the city centre, the looting and mindless vandalism. And previously, I swear, I've lost count of how many times shooting and drug-related offences have been in the news.
Here's a poem to mark this year's Christmas - albeit written more than a decade ago!
A gentle rain falls through the universe now
Not snowflakes on this Christmas Eve -
A trickle that shimmers like diamonds
Against our Nordic galaxy.
All around, the stars glimmer, these words,
Like omniscience that see all -
Eluding the hands of fate like beings
Of a different world.
Amidst the darkness of this space,
Wet-silence seeps into our thoughts
Like the flickering flame of a diva,
Or a hush of hymns in a church.
And this could be an insoluble instance,
Or an enigma for the essence of earth,
Projecting a collision of sparkling rain
With an image of that Child's birth.
A very merry Christmas to all our readers and a peaceful New Year.
American politicians constantly go around stating how religious they are, ending their speeches with 'God bless America'.
For them religion is a badge of honour.
I am amazed at the double standards we have to put up with in regard to public broadcasting in this country.
You might remember when Hardeep Kholi - the Glaswegian comedian - made a relatively stale, though sexist, comment to a researcher (or was it a make-up assistant?). The BBC suspended him almost immediately from the shows where he was a regular contributor. And it was even worse for Raj Persaud who used to present a psychology programme on Radio 4 until that is, it was said that he had plagiarized his paper. And before you could say 'cheat', the man was presented with his UB40 card and packed off to the nearest job centre.
As a teacher I would like to say that I refuse to take part in the forthcoming industrial action on the grounds that I am patriotic and love my country.
Firstly I am right-wing and a committed reactionary. I believe that employers are the Victorian patriarchal figures - pillars of our community - who have our best interest at heart. To go against them - to disrupt the production and the business of education - is tantamount to sacrilege because it is a betrayal of our trust and a breach of our contractual duties with our place of work.
Every now and then (if you're lucky) a piece of literature - be it a novel or a poem - will come along and shake your heart; it'll rock your world. And, I swear, your perspective of yourself and the space around you, will never be the same again.
Today, of course, is Remembrance Sunday - a day on which our nation commemorates all those soldiers who have given their lives for our country. Quite rightly, perhaps, many people take part in services being held in churches up and down our country - and in other parts of our towns and cities including community halls, town centres and temples.
Essentially I have absolutely no problem with people wanting to mark this occasion with whatever appropriate means they want to employ. I think it is fitting that some form of event is organised on a national scale to remember the immensity of sacrifice made by thousands and indeed millions of young soldiers - many as young as the students I teach.
So I'm all for it. I really am.
You would think that a 17th century Catholic who attempted to blow up Parliament - the ultimate symbol of democracy in this country - would be hard pushed to gain even an iota of sympathy from anyone. Certainly not then and, perhaps, not even now.
And yet today, sympathy is exactly what I feel towards Guy Fawkes, a man who was executed publicly in the most savage and brutal manner - though he did purposefully break his neck in order to by-pass a prolonged, agonising death.
'It's just not cricket' is an adage used by many to denote unsavory, behaviour in our society. And this is particularly true in the light of Pakistan's cricket team's skipper, Salman Butt. Today he was jailed for 30 months for his role in deliberately creating no-balls against England in the Test match last year. So perhaps, understandably, people might think twice about correlating gentlemanly conduct with this whiter-than-white sport.
However, my question concerns the sentence itself.
Granted that Butt and the other two players, Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Amir, were found guilty of illegal tampering by Southwark Crown Court.
But were their offences so serious that only a prison sentence could be justified?