Home | Skidmore's Island

October 31, 2013

A Land Of Glory?

"I was always in trouble with the various banks to whom I entrusted my overdraft, in the days when I believed that beyond my means was the only place to live,'' wrote Ian Skidmore.

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October 24, 2013

A Knight Of The Brotherhood Of The Chain Of The Turning Spit

...“My grandfather,” confided the baron to the startled driver, “always maintained there was no greater pleasure than making love in a sleeping car as the train went over a set of points.”...

Ian Skidmore told of the day he introduced the aristocracy to the chip butty.

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October 17, 2013


"The great names in pantomime include John Rich, David Garrick, Joe Grimaldi, Dan Leno, William Beverley, E.L. Blanchard, Herbert Campbell, Nat Jackley, Florrie Ford, Dorothy Ward, Pat Kirkwood, Wyn Calvin, King Charles II, the Emperor Augustus and my mum,'' wrote Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "Pantomime" »

October 10, 2013

A Drop In The Ocean

...So there he was, up-ended, circling a tiny azure paddling pool, with his chest making rude noises...

Ian Skidmore tells a delicious war-time tale.

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October 03, 2013

Worrying About Religion

"Far from being anti-religious, I have worried about religion for most of my life and have only recently come to a conclusion that satisfies me,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

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September 26, 2013

Bobbies Aren't Always Dazzlers

Ian Skidmore tells of some characters in uniform who came a little short of wonderful.

Continue reading "Bobbies Aren't Always Dazzlers" »

September 12, 2013

Begone Dull Care

... We have all had a lovely, stormy time together. Choked with admiration of ourselves and each other...

Ian Skidmore celebrates his lovable family.

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September 05, 2013

Chip Butties

...The waitress took the order without demur and soon returned with the champagne, followed by a waiter bearing the finest chip butty I have ever seen. The bread was home made, the butter runny and the golden chips had hard crusts protecting inner potato, soft as a baby’s cheek. The silver platter on which they were served also carried salt, pepper and vinegar...

Ian Skidmore recalls a tasty feast.

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Chip Butties

...The waitress took the order without demur and soon returned with the champagne, followed by a waiter bearing the finest chip butty I have ever seen. The bread was home made, the butter runny and the golden chips had hard crusts protecting inner potato, soft as a baby’s cheek. The silver platter on which they were served also carried salt, pepper and vinegar...

Ian Skidmore recalls a tasty feast.

Continue reading "Chip Butties" »

August 29, 2013

A Mewing Mouth

"My mouth mewed with delight this morning when the postman arrived with a collection of tastings of the finest malts and most noble blends from Master of Malts,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

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A Mewing Mouth

"My mouth mewed with delight this morning when the postman arrived with a collection of tastings of the finest malts and most noble blends from Master of Malts,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "A Mewing Mouth" »

August 22, 2013

Nearer To God In A Garden Is Not Necessarily A Good Thing

...What takes the Woe out of Man - Woman. Neat,eh?...

Ian Skidmore imagines an early-day conversation.

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Nearer To God In A Garden Is Not Necessarily A Good Thing

...What takes the Woe out of Man - Woman. Neat,eh?...

Ian Skidmore imagines an early-day conversation.

Continue reading "Nearer To God In A Garden Is Not Necessarily A Good Thing" »

August 15, 2013

Medical Humour

... When I went for my blood test this week a battalion of nurses asked me how I was. I said: "That's why I am here, so you can tell me how I am."...

Ian Skidmore makes light of bad news.

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August 08, 2013

They Didn't Believe Me...

"When I said Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch English listeners found my command of language impressive. Welsh speaking listeners shuddered. That was my problem. I lived in a place I could not pronounce,'' writes the Ian Skidmore.

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August 01, 2013

A Garden Is A Bothersome Thing

"When I lived at Tattenhall on the Welsh border I had to remonstrate with an enthusiastic neighbour whose flower seeds blew over the fence and choked my weeds,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "A Garden Is A Bothersome Thing" »

July 25, 2013

A Nation Of Burrowers

" If you look at any photographs taken in the Fifties everyone is smiling yet in contemporary photographs there isn't a happy tooth to be seen. Our media resembles nothing so much as the Fat Boy in the Pickwick Papers 'who wants to make yer flesh creep'.'' writes Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "A Nation Of Burrowers" »

July 18, 2013

George Was The Dragon

...Once, returning home, he could not find his front gate. He hacked a great hole in the hedge, assuming he was back in the Chindits. It would be dishonourable to him to call him predictable...

Ian Skidmore recalls a journalistic friend.

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July 11, 2013

Stardust And Tinsel

... He made up stories for the Mirror that nowadays would have got him an overnight declaration in the Booker Prize. Like the one about the girl who couldn’t afford the cruise her doctor ordered so she bought (or, to be more truthful, Bill did) 45 round-trip tickets on the New Brighton ferry...

Ian Skidmore recalls another astonishing character.

Continue reading "Stardust And Tinsel" »

July 04, 2013

Farewell To Hipkin

Ian Skidmore introduces us to a gloriously unique character.

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June 27, 2013

The Parachute Jump

"He stopped going to meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous when a fellow alcoholic failed to buy his round of lemonade...''

Ian Skidmore tells of a friend of his youth.

Continue reading "The Parachute Jump" »

June 20, 2013

A Plea To Bar "Colour'' Altogether

"There is no time in my life when I have been without a close friend whose pigmentation differs from mine. At school, in the Army and through my working and retirement life, some of my best friends have been coloured and I would certainly let my children marry one. I had a coloured uncle and much preferred him to my aunt, his wife. My first wife and our children were mostly Jewish. My father didn't mind what you were, so long as you weren't a Catholic. It ran in the family. My uncle was furious when I introduced his daughter to a friend who was Catholic. A chum, who is a Catholic priest, has to hide his occupation in the Middle East,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

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June 13, 2013

Joe Minogue

"Joe Minogue was a giant cloth cap, a cigarette and a pronounced Manchester accent,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

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June 06, 2013

Those Powerful Men

Ian Skidmore tells of the day the Queen was offered cabbage.

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May 30, 2013

Cry God For Harry

...Harry was small, saturnine, with an impish grin like a devil on holiday and he could ruin a suit by standing next to it. His cap was his badge of office and he had a genius for conversation. Google lists only seven Harry Whewells in Britain. Personally I don't believe in six of them...

Ian Skidmore pays tribute to a very special man.

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May 23, 2013

Oh To Be In England, Or Anywhere Else, Now That Spring Is Here

Ian Skidmore is delighted to hear that he is looking young.

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May 16, 2013

Most Of The News Is Unfit To Print

As an evil news breasts the tape with religion and television, writes Ian Skidmore.

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May 09, 2013

A Prickly Subject

"Anyone can live a week on very little. Hell is having to do it week after week, year after year,'' declares Ian Skidmore.

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May 02, 2013

Pack The Knife

"There a very few born crooks but plenty of vulnerable kids who will prove you right if you do not show them kindness and respect.'' writes Ian Skidmore.

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April 25, 2013

These Feet Are Mad On Walking

"I expected to be a mess at 84. I did not expect to be a laughing stock. Other people get nice, sensible diseases which inspire sympathy. I fall for the ones which verge on the downright comic,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

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April 18, 2013

The Law Is An Assett

Ian Skidmore introuces us to Kathyann Latchoo (nee Waterman), Deputy Director of Prosecutions in Trinidad. who takes us on a chuckle-filled tour of the law.

Continue reading "The Law Is An Assett" »

April 11, 2013

Drink To Me Only With Thy Sick Note

...a fellow member of a dining club insisted the perfect drink is when the man drinks green chartreuse the woman yellow chartreuse and they kiss...

Ian Skidmore writes about the undoubted joys of alcohol.

Continue reading "Drink To Me Only With Thy Sick Note" »

April 04, 2013

Tripod Man

"They are gone the days of Daimler Jags and Lagondas, of Land Rovers and MG TDs. In their place is a walking stick. These days we are a tripod.'' writes Ian Skidmore.

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March 28, 2013

Best Book In The Last Twenty Years

" I prefer biography to fiction. Biography, indeed life, can be fanciful in ways that fiction wouldn’t dare,'' declares Ian Skidmore.

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March 21, 2013

Oh My God

"What a thing of vanity is man who believes himself the image of God. With his manifest talent as a designer why would God.'' writes Ian Skidmore.

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Oh My God

"What a thing of vanity is man who believes himself the image of God. With his manifest talent as a designer why would God.'' writes Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "Oh My God" »

March 14, 2013

On The Practice Of Watch Polishing

"I was born to be buttled but, alas, four monarchs have neglected the peerage I have always believed my due. I am doomed never to be handed a freshly ironed newspaper on a silver salver,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "On The Practice Of Watch Polishing" »

March 07, 2013

Farewll To Arms

"There was a saying amongst the more gullible soldiery: “You cannot beat the army.” Rubbish. I reckon in my short stay I got the best of three falls,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "Farewll To Arms" »

February 28, 2013

The Eighth Age Of Ache

"I have a certain expertise in the architecture of falling over. You begin with a fond farewell to the perpendicular, the next and most graceful move is a panic stricken hover,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

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The Eighth Age Of Ache

"I have a certain expertise in the architecture of falling over. You begin with a fond farewell to the perpendicular, the next and most graceful move is a panic stricken hover,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

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February 21, 2013

To The Skies With Little Ardua

Ian Skidmore recalls the man who was charged ith biting a Doberman Pincher.

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February 14, 2013

Hangovers Are Over

Ian Skidmore recalls the best ever description of a hangover penned with feeling by one of the greatest - some say the greatest - journalists of the Twentieth Century.

Continue reading "Hangovers Are Over" »

February 07, 2013

Sergeant Major Is A Smother To Me

The adjutant at my new posting in Germany scratched his head when he read the charge sheet.'' writes Ian Skidmore.

“I am a very bewildered officer,” he admitted. “You don’t look violent.”

Continue reading "Sergeant Major Is A Smother To Me" »

January 31, 2013

Evan Morgan's Story

Ian Skidmore tells of a man whose pet parrot bit both Goering and H.G. Wells.

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January 24, 2013

The War And Mrs Williams

"Field Marshall Montgomery will have his own memories, but for me the most significant moment of the war came during the bacchanalia which suffused the population on V.E. Day,'' writes the irrepressible Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "The War And Mrs Williams" »

January 17, 2013

Bombs And The Beeb

...One housewife told about her lodger, a man whose kindness had overwhelmed her: “Do you know, Mrs Jones, every Saturday he goes down to the port and finds a lonely sailor. He treats him to a fish supper, then he brings him home and takes him upstairs to let him sleep in his bed. There’s kind for you.”...

Ian Skidmore recalls wartime goings-on.

Continue reading "Bombs And The Beeb" »

January 10, 2013

The Weight On My Mind

"I have reduced fish and chip luncheons to fish and mushy peas.'' writes Ian Skidmore who is contemplating weighty matters.

Continue reading "The Weight On My Mind" »

January 03, 2013

A Ration All Explanation

"The nightly bombings were exciting and there was always the chance of another sighting of Olive Cobbold’s bosom. But not even that could distract me from my major strategy. I was determined not to be evacuated,'' writes Ian Skidmore, recalling the wartime years.

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December 27, 2012

Skidmore's War

"My family fought at Crecy, Agincourt, Trafalgar, Waterloo, in the Boer and Zulu Wars and World Wars One and Two, so I never really forgave Hitler for starting his war when I was only ten and too young to join in; though I had the Martini Henry rifle my Uncle Alby used to despatch Zulus. In my bed in Manchester I slept with it by my side longing for invasion.'' writes Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "Skidmore's War" »

December 20, 2012

Bedtime Stories

"...the Upper Classes did more to popularise adultery as an indoor sport than any other class, except perhaps the America military,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "Bedtime Stories" »

December 13, 2012

Bank Battles

... Battle was joined early in our arrangement when my riposte to them bouncing a £2 cheque was to apply for a personal loan. Halfway through the interview that followed the manager excused himself because he had to supervise a visit to the vaults.He paled when I offered to go with him. “You are doing enough damage to the concept of banking where you are."...

Ian Skidmore recalls in delicious detail his decades of skirmishing with a certain bank.

Continue reading "Bank Battles" »

December 06, 2012

Enigmatic Variation

"Spilled blood and trickery built most empires. Ours is the first to be killed by kindness,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "Enigmatic Variation" »

November 29, 2012

Yet Another Paean

...Neville was all about excellence and perseverance. He never gave up; he never let anyone he cared about give up. He was loyal to the core...

Ian Skidmore pays tribute to Neville Stack, *the brightest newspaperman of his generation''.

Continue reading "Yet Another Paean" »

November 22, 2012

A Camilo Moment

"My faith does not allow me to believe in death and dying isn't a very productive way of passing the time,'' declares Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "A Camilo Moment" »

November 15, 2012

Over The Seas To Why?

"...expect Salmond the King Maker will offer the crown of Scotland, which is on show in Edinburgh Castle, to Sean Connery. I reckon he would graciously accept and Scotland would have a king...

Ian Skidmore casts a cold eye on the bid for Scottish independence.

Continue reading "Over The Seas To Why?" »

November 08, 2012

The Teflon Tafia

"One of the joys of living in Wales was the pleasure I got from being rude on radio and in my columns about the Welsh Arts Establishment or, as I christened it, The Teflon Tafia,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "The Teflon Tafia" »

November 01, 2012

Inhuman Beinga

"In a perfect world badgers would be culling us. We make a far greater mess of the world. We kill other species and ourselves on a scale unimaginable in the animal kingdom. The hungriest man-eating lion watches us in envy,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

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October 25, 2012

No Wonder He Wept

"I have been married twice and the second one has been blissful. Indeed this week she saved me from being eaten alive. My first wife gave the lie to the belief that Britain never produced a decent light heavyweight fighter,'' writes the irrepressible Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "No Wonder He Wept" »

October 18, 2012

King Tut tut

...At the age of 75 the countess was declared bankrupt, largely due to the actions of her son. She moved to a terraced house in Bristol with no hot water and got by on occasional Highclere handouts. She died after choking on a piece of chicken in the early summer of 1969...

Ian Skidmore tells of life upstairs.

Continue reading "King Tut tut" »

October 11, 2012

Churchill The Hero?

" .I have been out of tune with what we laughingly call Western Civilisation since the Dawn of Denim and the advent in the Sixties of the adenoid as a musical instrument,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

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October 04, 2012

A Rare Bit

"The Welsh were invented by an ancestor of mine, a Pictish
chieftain called Cunnedda,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "A Rare Bit" »

September 27, 2012

Half Nelson

Ian Skidmore introduces us to Captain Timothy Edwards - or to give him his nickname in Nelson’s Navy “Old Hammer and Nails” - squire of Nanhoron on the Llyn Peninsula.

"He was every bit as dashing as Nelson, as was shown in his biography “Hammer and Nails” by my chum David Beaumont Ellison.''

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September 20, 2012

A Little Bird Told You

Ian Skidmore tells of an old friend who bought a mountain in Wales.

Continue reading "A Little Bird Told You" »

September 13, 2012

Bookish Tales

"A visit to a second-hand bookshop is a chastening experience for a writer. Shelf after shelf of authors, once feted but now completely forgotten, whilst on bookstalls a badly written pornographic novel sells fifty million copies. Only rarely does one come across copies of "Fame Is The Spur” which by a country mile is the finest novel I have ever read. An even greater tragedy is that neither Howard Spring, nor his contemporary Ivor Novello, nor the hilarious writer the amiable Gwyn Thomas, three of the finest creative artists Wales ever produced, are remembered in their native land. If only they had been Welsh speakers the halls would still be ringing with their praise,'' writes columnist and author Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "Bookish Tales" »

September 06, 2012

My Heroes Revisited

...He was a great Word War Wager, his invective darkening the skies like the arrow night of Crecy...

Ian Skidmore pays tribute to the giants of the newspaper trade.

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August 30, 2012

Bring Back The Quill

"My battle with the New Age makes a flash in the pan of the Hundred Years War,'' declares Ian Skidmore.

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August 23, 2012

Drink To Me Only With An IOU

"Teetotalism is dangerous. It allows you to do much sillier things than ever you did as a drunk,'' declares the inimitable Ian Skidmore.

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August 16, 2012

Half A Loaf Of Stale Bread

Ian Skidmore muses on this, that - and the Oympics.

Continue reading "Half A Loaf Of Stale Bread" »

August 09, 2012

Marching Odours

"The only consolation to people like me who love soldiers but loathe wars is that war has become one of those bad habits we can no longer afford,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "Marching Odours" »

August 02, 2012

The Stately Homes

...just imagine getting to the top of the council house waiting list and being called with an offer of a house surrounded by trees, four miles from the nearest shop, 800 years old and a mile from the front gate...

Ian Skidmore expresses his sympathy for the aristocracy in their draghty stately homes.

Continue reading "The Stately Homes" »

July 26, 2012

Goodbyes Aren't Easy

"When you are very old only your dimensions travel. I have grown shorter, my mouth has shrunk and in consequence my dentures wobble,'' writes Britain's best columnist Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "Goodbyes Aren't Easy" »

July 19, 2012

Mostly I Will Miss Bruges

"Two sips and you arrive at that state where conversation is easy but pronunciation difficult. It is like being mugged with a velvet cosh. Your mind walks in ever diminishing circles, whimpering uneasily,'' writes Ian Skidmore in this celebration of Bruges's beer houses.

Continue reading "Mostly I Will Miss Bruges" »

July 12, 2012

It's A Blunderful World

"Another thing that puzzles me about soldiers is that they never tumble to what sewers politicians are. No matter whom they meet, Jap, Hun, Taliban or Chinese, they are never going to come across an enemy as implacable as the Ministry of Defence,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "It's A Blunderful World" »

July 05, 2012

Olympic Shames

"But hold your foot up, Your Lordship. Why not go the whole hog and have the athletes coming out two by two behind their countries’ flags, from a giant plastic Ark. With ubiquitous Boris as an intoxicated Noah?''

Ian Skidmore is a long way short of being impressed by the opening ceremony planned for the London Olympics.

Continue reading "Olympic Shames" »

June 28, 2012

Aborneal? Born To Be Tree

"When I was a lad I was told I had grown on a blackcurrant bush. Not very nice going through life thinking you were adopted and your real mother was a shrub,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "Aborneal? Born To Be Tree" »

June 21, 2012

Turbulent Priests

"For thirty years I earned a living by renting out the mouth for money. As a result the mouth was a great traveller. I scarcely left my armchair but every week the mouth went all over the world,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

"Frankly I am glad of the practice because any day now I am going to be standing knee-deep in clouds and deafened by the incessant harp plucking, shouting over the noise, explaining to God I never had any problem with Him. The evidence of His existence is so obvious it would be foolish to deny it. Such a complex thing as life could not possibly be an accident. It was religion I had come to think of as evil and, frankly, if any of its various versions of God came to live next door, I would move.''

Continue reading "Turbulent Priests" »

June 14, 2012

Chocks Away

"I was lucky enough to meet two pilots who fought in fragile aircraft above the battlefields in World War One,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "Chocks Away" »

June 07, 2012


...The worst thing is the way time suddenly speeds up. The Spectator becomes a daily and it’s Christmas every other week. Or as Christopher Fry memorably said: “You seem to have breakfast every half hour.”...

Ian Skidmore reflects on old age, dropping a few famous names along the way.

Continue reading "Litterature " »

May 31, 2012

Ill Wind

Ian Skidmore writes with feeling about a subject we are all aware of - a concern which is rarely discussed.

Continue reading "Ill Wind" »

May 24, 2012

My Spy

...He found ample evidence of Chinese penetration but was captured by them and imprisoned in remote Takalot, high in the Himalayas. On Christmas Eve he was suddenly freed and told to walk back to India across the roof of the world and, with supernatural help, he succeeded. Climbing down a cliff face, knowing he was about to lose his grip, he felt arms holding him, guiding him to safety...

Ian Skidmore pays due tribute to marvelopus men.

Continue reading "My Spy" »

May 17, 2012

Sick To The Gills

"Any writer will tell you that insults are much easier to write than peons of praise. So when the Times also appointed him as its TV columnist the result was predictable. His general views of TV were sound but his comments on presenters and programmes verged on libel.''

Ian Skidmore lambasts the criticd A A Gill.

Continue reading "Sick To The Gills" »

May 10, 2012

No Bother

82-year-old Ian Skidmore buys his first mobile phone.

Continue reading "No Bother" »

May 03, 2012

Double Cross Talk

"I will be 83 shortly and too near the swinging of the Pearly Gates to ‘scape bruising. Yet I remain convinced the Creator is unknowable and that mankind invented gods to explain climate change,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "Double Cross Talk" »

April 26, 2012

Water, Water Nowhere

England's water shortage crisis haunts Ian Skidmore's dreams.

Continue reading "Water, Water Nowhere" »

April 19, 2012

Faint David's Day

"I may have mentioned that I once fell asleep in the middle of an interview for a Radio 4 series. For the first and only time in my life the office was inundated with letters praising my interviewing technique. At last, they all said, an interviewer who isn’t forever interrupting,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "Faint David's Day" »

April 12, 2012

The Great Imperturbable

"The nearest thing we had in our family to a tradition was the
Hogmanay Fight. My father emigrated to Manchester but
always returned home to Edinburgh on 30 December. He went a day early to get in training,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "The Great Imperturbable" »

April 05, 2012

A Load Of Bull

"We handle words so carelessly and yet they are more dangerous than nuclear fission,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "A Load Of Bull" »

March 29, 2012

It's Being So Cheerful...

Ian Skidmore draws attention to an ominous date.

Continue reading "It's Being So Cheerful..." »

March 22, 2012

Real Men

Ian Skidmore counts true heroes among his friends.

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March 15, 2012


Ian Skidmore delivers a history lesson for the Speaker if the House of Commons.

Continue reading "Welshed" »

March 08, 2012

I Don't Give An MP For A Fig

"I’ve said it once and I will go on saying it until I am, non-politically speaking of course, blue in the face. The answer to our problems is to sack all the MPs and let their precious fig trees run the country,'' declares Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "I Don't Give An MP For A Fig" »

March 01, 2012

Broadcasters Paid Too Much

Ian Skidmore suggests that all broadcasters are paid too much.

Continue reading "Broadcasters Paid Too Much" »

February 23, 2012

Publishers Be Damned

"Kindle ‘deniers’ are the sort of people who prefer magic lanterns to the cinema and enjoy driving vintage cars rather than new ones,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "Publishers Be Damned" »

February 16, 2012

A Million And A Million And A Million...

"I loathe money so deeply that I get rid of as much as I can as quickly as I can,'' declares Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "A Million And A Million And A Million..." »

February 09, 2012

Budget? BODGET

"There will always be an England - which when you see how it has turned out is a pity,'' writes a seriously disenchanted Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "Budget? BODGET" »

February 02, 2012

Don't Be Alarmed

...Thus the burglar alarm has its eye on us. It waits to mock us if we put a foot wrong. It knows if we are trying to trick it by remaining in the house when it has been set...

The irreplacable Ian Skidmore takes another deliciously dystopian look at the present-day world.

Continue reading "Don't Be Alarmed" »

January 26, 2012

I Don't Care Who Glasgow Belongs To

"Why, one wonders, are we loading ourselves with debt, traffic jams and bomb attacks by importing a foreign version of an English original?''

Columnist Ian Skidmore has qualms about the forthcoming Olympics in the UK.

Continue reading "I Don't Care Who Glasgow Belongs To" »

January 19, 2012

For The Why Jump?

...New Year’s Day saw another costly parade. This one launched The Yawn of the £9 billion Olympics, the most costly sports days in history. Lord Coe announced that it was a victory for sportsmanship at roughly the same time the Culture Minister warned that the biggest betting fix in history was already threatening every event. We had already been alerted that this triumph of sportsmanship was such an obvious terrorist target the army has been called in to defend it...

Ian Skidmore will not be cheering the progress of the Olympic flame through his native land.

Continue reading "For The Why Jump?" »

January 12, 2012

Let Us Prey

...In place of a paper hat I wore the livery of the S.A.S. (The Scrooge Appreciation Society which I founded many years ago), a woolly hat emblazoned ”Bah Humbug”, carpet slippers and capacious track suit bottoms.''

Ian Skidmore declares a loathing for Christmas.

Continue reading "Let Us Prey" »

January 05, 2012

The Thoughts Of Christopher Hitchens

"The passing of Christopher Hitchens did little for my Xmas spirit,'' writes Ian Skidmore, passing on some of the iconoclast's wise words quoted in the New York Times.

Continue reading "The Thoughts Of Christopher Hitchens" »

December 29, 2011

A Sad Moment And A Rum Do

"The great joy of authorship is researching, gradually assembling the building blocks of books. The excitement of discovering gems of information which others have missed; of gradually bringing your subject to life,'' says author and journalist Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "A Sad Moment And A Rum Do" »

December 22, 2011

Bench Marked

"I used to go for walks. Now I have a daily stumble. More particularly I stumble from bench to bench in our lovely riverside park where the water is fringed by magnificent giant willows. I can sit for hours drinking in their beauty,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "Bench Marked" »

December 15, 2011

Red Tape Challenge

Ian Skidmore tells of a threat to a famous railway.

Continue reading "Red Tape Challenge" »

December 08, 2011

What Is Education For?

"Science and law and rhetoric are what universities were invented for,'' declares Ian Skidmore. "The rest is jobs for the boys.''

Continue reading "What Is Education For?" »

December 01, 2011

Two Different Doctors' Surgeries

Ian Skidmore tells a tale to highlight delays in medical treatment for two-legged creatures.

Continue reading "Two Different Doctors' Surgeries" »

November 24, 2011

Be Fair To Greeks Seeking Gifts

"I am Greece made flesh. Long holidays, short working weeks, high pensions. Fine by me. And if my debts are being paid by the Germans who seventy years ago subjected Greece to cruel occupation and slave labour, then bring it on,'' declares Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "Be Fair To Greeks Seeking Gifts" »

November 17, 2011

I Am A Motorway

...So many golden memories. Asking the opera giant Geraint Evans how he got the ideas for his splendid make ups and being told, “If I had known you when I was preparing Falstaff I would have modelled him on you.” And then shortly afterwards getting a photo inscribed “From One Falstaff to Another”...

At the end of a dolorous week the wonderful Ian Skidmore finds solace in his memory bank.

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November 10, 2011

Welsh Squelched

"In another life I was Welsh so I took Wales's World Cup debacle very personally indeed,'' writes the irrepressible Ian Skidmore in another hugely entertaining column.

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November 03, 2011

Hot Air

Ian Skidmore shines a spotlight on recent EU regulations. No comment needed!

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October 27, 2011

Unkindest Cut Of All

...And then I saw it. A tray of Barnsley Chops. Can there be a soul so dead it is a stranger to the Barnsley Chop? A palate so starved of joy it has never felt the caress of meat so sweet it could flavour cake? Surely not...

But all was not as should be in what, up to to that point, Ian Skidmore had thought to be a Heavenly butcher's shop.

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October 20, 2011

The Real Downton

...When she felt the urge for horizontal gardening she had an arrangement with one of the gardeners at Highclere. She later told a friend how she would stand away from her desk in one of the windows and that was the signal to summon him....

Ian Skidmore, after pondering on Count Dracula and his ways, reveals surprising facts relating to a certain blue-blood lady.

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October 13, 2011

Sick Note

Columnist Ian Skidmore writes from a hospital bed.

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October 06, 2011

Wales Is A Limitedd Company

"Wales is a Limited Company run by a small group of families, however much the Welsh Government preens itself,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

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September 29, 2011

Sex Education

"Broadly speaking I am in favour of sex education,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

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September 22, 2011

There Were Other Towers..

Ian Skidmore reminds us of the first infamous bombing raid on civilians.

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September 15, 2011

If At First You Do Not Fail, Try Again

...Government interference cost us our export trade, our police force, our rail system and our education structure. Legislation outlawed the discipline of our young and crackpot theories ruined traditional teaching methods.
We were led by the nose into the Common Market and as a direct result our freedoms have been eroded, our courts superseded and our industry wrecked...

To say that Ian Skidmore is disenchanted with the present state of affairs in his native land would be the understatement of the century.

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September 08, 2011

It's All Eyewash

...I have another two words for getting Tweeters off the streets. Digital Recorders. They fit snuggly next to the whistle and all the other toys the Politically Correct PCs carry. Out of the question, I suppose. They are succesfully in use in the US, where they arrest wrongdoers , bundle them into the police van and speak the arrest details into the recorder. When the tapes are full, they are collected by a single officer and are taken back to HQ, plugged into computers and the recordings are automatically transcribed...

Ian Skidmore has a recommendation to improve policing in the aftermath of rioting in certain English cities.

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September 01, 2011

The Swarming Of The Flies

"The art of politics is a constant effort to repair the harm done by the preceding politicians,'' declares Ian Skidmore.

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August 25, 2011

A Yen For Your Thoughts

"Whenever I have been broke it meant that I had no money. Apparently the same rules do not apply to countries.

"America, which rents its homeland from China, hasn't got enough ready cash to pay its civil service. But for some reason that does not mean America is short of money. It baffles me in the way I used to baffle the Midland Bank,'' writes Ian Skidmore.

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August 18, 2011

Till Debts Do Us Part

"The purpose of what is now called bullying in the army was simple. It was to make a soldier more afraid of his own NCOs than he was of the enemy. We are now told that this is disgraceful. That harsh discipline robs soldiers of their dignity. That we must be kinder to the young men who fight for us.
May I, as an old soldier, say that this is rubbish,'' asserts Ian Skidmore.

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August 11, 2011

Chinese Crackers

Ian Skidmore bridles at being banned in China.

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August 04, 2011

A Reluctant Monarchist

"For most of my life I have been a reluctant monarchist; approving the office but loathing the occupants of any post-Plantagenet dynasty,'' declares Ian Skidmore.

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July 28, 2011

Alice In Llandudno

"Fantasy is essential to Nationalism. It enables people to forget that the road to Nationalism leads to the gates of Belsen,'' declares Ian Skidmore.

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July 21, 2011

Silly Clown Valiant

"Lets face it. Five books is a lot for one finger but it is the only way I can type and I have had five books commissioned, bubbling away in the little room above the eyebrows, begging to be let out,'' writes ace journalist and author Ian Skidmore.

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July 14, 2011

What Fright From Yonder Window Breaks...

...Mr Fellowes assures us he is writing a film script which is both sensual yet tasteful enough to avoid accusations of child exploitation. His version, he insists, “keeps pretty true to Shakespeare but is more accessible. We tell the story more economically too.”...

Ian Skidmore bridles at a proposed new production of Romeo and Juliet.

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July 07, 2011

Privileged Olympics

Ian Skidmore spotlights the dark side of the Olympic Games.

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June 30, 2011

Vet Debt

Ian Skidmore does not share the national perception created by romanticised TV porgrammes that all Vets are Good Eggs and probably Scottish Porridge eating philanthropists to a man.

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June 23, 2011


The inimitable Ian Skidmore tells of urgent measures taken to confine his dog Taz who is a demanding patient.

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June 16, 2011

Lions Led By Donkeys

Ian Skidmore puts in an impassioned plea for Britain to be a little nation, bothering no one.

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June 09, 2011

Every Day Has Its Dog

"I am concerned that vets are becoming the Dick Turpins of our day. On degree day they wear a black mask with their gowns and mortar boards. Compared to Vets the Great Train Robbers were a Hospital Saturday Fund,'' says Ian Skidmore whose dog Taz is being treated for a broken leg.

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June 02, 2011

Statements To The Cemetery Please

Ian Skidmore draws our attention to the following report which appeared in the Newcastle Evening Chronicle.

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May 26, 2011

The Brightest Star

...She was a successful novelist and short story writer, a painter, a maker of exquisite miniature rooms and a gardener, though her garden was a toy wheelbarrow. She made jewellery and greetings cards, lace and tapestries on tiny canvases with a miniature needle and very fine thread...

Ian Skidmore pays tribute to a most remarkable human being.

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May 19, 2011

England, Please Can I Come In?

...The girl said, “Don't forget to bring proof of your nationality.”...

Columnist Ian Skidmore is dumbfounded by a request for proof of his nationality.

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May 12, 2011

A Health To Their Majesties

Ian Skidmore brings a different take on the royal wedding.

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May 05, 2011

Charity Begins At...Whom?

"I suspect great waves of charity,'' says columnist Ian Skidmore. "Children in Need makes millions, we are told. I used to take part in it every year on BBC Wales but it was some time before it struck me that my voluntary efforts were giving the BBC days of free broadcasting. It was surprisingly difficult to get the BBC to pay me for my appearances so that I could give the fee to charity.''

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April 28, 2011

Myth Stress

...Another legend tells of the attempts of Vortigern to build a castle on Dinas Emrys. Every time it was built, it collapsed. Merlin explained the reason was that the dragons were fighting underground. The truth of the myth is probably that the primitive Welsh saw the long pennants the Roman legions marched behind that “wriggled” in the wind. To further banjax the foe, the Romans attached whistles to the flags that screamed in the wind....

The irrepressible Ian Skidmore ruminates on a variety of myths.

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April 21, 2011


"I think if I lived in Vienna I would be smiling all the time. It must be the loveliest and least aggressive city in Europe, with the most helpful population,'' declares Ian Skidmore.

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April 14, 2011

Nightmares I Have Ridden

...I have danced a reel with the late Queen Mary, naked save for her velvet toque hat. Once, to hide my nudity, I borrowed a suit from King George VI, which is ridiculous. I have got a watch chain that weighs more than he did. My lips are permanently sealed in the matter of Princess Margaret, the bucket of G and T and the Courgette...

Ian Skidmore illuminates the curious effects of drinking Lemsip.

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April 07, 2011


Ian Skidmore foresees doom an gloom in the UK if the internet is switched off.

Continue reading "Intermess" »

March 31, 2011

A Fully Paid Up Stoic

"Pick your four favourite MPs? I couldn't pick four I would trust to take Taz, my long dog, for a walk. I don't just mean contemporary MPs. I mean since politicking started in the 17th century,'' declares columnist Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "A Fully Paid Up Stoic" »

March 24, 2011

Dr Jekyll - But What HappenedTo Make Hyde Hide?

...What is this fuss over library closures? Close them all. The argument in their favour is outdated. Certainly I was educated in them and the best moment in my young life was when I qualified for an adult ticket and could borrow four books at a time. Today you can download around two million books free of charge and buy new ones online at a greatly reduced price. Second-hand paperbacks are available for the price of an ice cream or a lollipop. The few people who haven't got assorted computers could be given them free...

Bookman Ian Skidmore is moving with the times - or should that be The Times?

Continue reading "Dr Jekyll - But What HappenedTo Make Hyde Hide?" »

March 17, 2011

Surly Bath Time

summoned the fire brigade. Through that brief sentence flows a river of tears...

The irresistibly humorous Ian Skidmore says he no longer writes about comic happenings - he lives them.

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March 10, 2011

An End To Satire

"There was a time when I felt the kingdom was a tragedy: I did not know it would become a farce.''

Ian Skidmore despairs of a disunited Kingdom.

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March 03, 2011

The Past Is My Favourite Country

...The past has a beginning and an end but the present has only a beginning, which merges into the future, and that is somewhere I have no wish to go. Indeed, I often wonder if it will exist...

Ian Skidmore says that life was more fun in the past.

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February 24, 2011

“Pick Me Up, Tie Me To My Chair And Fill Up My Glass.”

Ian Skidmore declares his allegiance to books - then, now and for ever.

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February 17, 2011

Heavenly Pavilions

...In my day there were two certain ways to get information from the police. Either join the Masons or pay for it in cash or kind...

Retired journalist Ian Skidmore takes a critical look at recent events.

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February 10, 2011

A Touch Of The Old Adam

...I do not do reverence but I am very strong on awe. I am gripped by it at
the thought of the flower crouched in a tiny seed and the magic of

Ace columnist Ian Skidmore voices dyspeptic views on religion and the state of his homeland.

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February 03, 2011

Pant O'Mine

Zestful columnist Ian Skidmore, victor in many a deadline battle, points out that it was a journalist who invented the modern pantomime.

Do visit Ian's superlative Web site http://skidmoresisland.blogspot.com/

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January 27, 2011

Fat Tails

...Never mind every dog has its day. In today's tabloids every day has its dog story. So with Herodotus. He knew his readers liked stories about lovable animals. So he told the story of a breed of sheep which was prized for its fat tails. Tails which were so fat and so heavy that the shepherd made little carts that the sheep dragged carrying their tails behind them...

Ian Skidmore goes travelling, with tabloid Herodotus as his guide.

Do visit Ian's Web site http://skidmoresisland.blogspot.com/

Continue reading "Fat Tails" »

January 20, 2011

Wishing On A Star

...Her debut album with Universal, "The Choirgirl, Isabel" was released under the Decca label. She has already recorded duets with Bryn Terfel and Aled Jones, who with characterstic kindness has agreed to be her mentor....

Ian Skidmore introduces us to Isabel Suckling, a relative of his who is destined to become a big name in the musical world.

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January 13, 2011

Would Man Spare That Tree?

Ian Skidmore recalls in hilarious detail a Christmas tree which was a long way from being free.

Do visit Ian's sizzling Web site http://skidmoresisland.blogspot.com/

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January 06, 2011

Wellie I Never

Ian Skidmore tells a tale that is sure to please.

For further richly-entertaining reading do visit Ian's Web site http://skidmoresisland.blogspot.com/

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December 30, 2010

Turkey Trotted

...A third guest said: "Yes, we have" and grabbed the parcel of
chicken from where it had been roosting under my arm.
Everyone but me applauded the skill with which the next
guest, a rather showy chap, executed a back pass with my
parcel between his legs...

Having watched his Christmas "feast'' being demolished an impoverished Ian Skidmore was then the recipient of a surprise gift.

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December 23, 2010


"The pinnacle of Christmas is reached for me when I watch, as I do every year, Miyako Oshida, the ultimate Sugar Plum Fairy, and her Prince, Jonathan Cope, dance the magical Grand Pas de Deux in the Royal Ballet's production of the “Nutcracker”, choreographed by Pepita,'' declares Ian Skidmore.

For more of Ian's high-spirited words do visit his Web site http://skidmoresisland.blogspot.com/

Continue reading "Balletomania" »

December 16, 2010

Louses Of Parliament

...Scoop a netful of the pond life which swims in the waters of Westminster. Ask them why they came into Parliament. With one voice they will utter the mantra, “We wanted to make a difference.”...

Ian Skidmore casts cold eye on Britain's Parliamentarians.

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December 09, 2010

Up With This I Will Not Put

Ian Skidmore concentrates on a most meaningful and much-used word. Up sticks and at 'em Skidders!

Do visit Ian's brilliant Web site http://skidmoresisland.blogspot.com/

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December 02, 2010

A Very Oily Cart

Columnist Ian Skidmore sees elements of Gilbert and Sullivan operas in the manoeverings of Britain's politicians and military men.

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November 25, 2010

Bobby On The Beatup

"Murder Inc, or the Metropolitan Police as it is more generally known, appears to be getting away with murder,'' declares ace columnist Ian Skidmore.

Continue reading "Bobby On The Beatup" »

November 18, 2010

Fen Sing

...All over the Fens there are churches and cathedrals which are treasures. The people make an effort if the landscape doesn't. Wonderful pubs, many with good restaurants. and thatched cottage villages. There is a Straw Bear festival, river festivals, and at Christmas there's a 'Extravaganza' in a village of 400 which attracts 40 busloads of visitors a night...

Ian Skidmore sings the paises of England's Fenland.

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November 11, 2010

Kick A Gift Horse In The Mouth Week

...I pass over Nudie Ice Cubes with a wellbred shudder,
offering the same response to Zany Nudey Party Glasses in the
shape of a human body and made - in the coy language of the
catalogue - "each with the details that make the
difference. Four and a half inches high."...

Ian Skidmore was far short of being filled with desire when he surveyed the offerings in a gift catalogue.

Do visit Ian's Web site http://skidmoresisland.blogspot.com/

Continue reading "Kick A Gift Horse In The Mouth Week" »

November 04, 2010

Out, Out Brief Celebrity

Today Open Writing welcomes a new columnist, Ian Skidmore.

And what a columnist! Ian is a star entertainer. Allow him to introduce himself.


I was educated in paperback . M.A. (Penguin) Without punctuation or shorthand I have been a reporter and author of 26 books,largely because I went into the wrong office in the army to dodge a vengeful RSM and within an hour was on my way to cover the Berlin airlift as an army PR sergeant.Two hours after being freed from an army prison as a private (It was a bum rap but I have never ceased to be grateful,because otherwise I would be a retired bus driver now.) For fity years I also wrote newspaper columns, so many that I ws known in the trade at the Parthenon Kid. I have been atop more columns than Simon the Stylite. I was also one of the few BBC presenters who hadn't been in the Footlights. I worked for BBC Wales for 30 years and ws awarded a Golden microphone for services to broadcasting. A month later I was dropped because I was English. Which proved BBC bosses don't listen to the radio.

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