Any site like this is bound to have material that doesn't fit anywhere else. It's obvious I have a wide range of interests, and curiosities crop up all the time. Some I thought were worth sharing, so here's a selection.


Although it is not my main concern, anyone living in these curious times after 2016 cannot but be affected by the rise of populism symbolised by the BREXIT vote and the election of Donal Trump. I found myself writing compulsively about these matters, and finally my son and I decided we would try to explore the common ground between the two sides. We are both amused to find ourselves ‘fundamentalist remainers’, yet we wanted to find out whether dialogue is still possible, hence the following:

An Open Letter to Any Leavers Who Might Be Listening

In 1969 I found myself a guest of the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, rubbing shoulders with some of the demigods who wrote the textbooks. One of the many curious incidents is told here. It is not often you get to meet both W.H.Auden and Arthur Koestler on the same occasion.

The late Jack Parsons was one of Britain's most persistent and vociferous campaigners on population issues. Although we disagreed about many things, I considered him one of the great unsung heroes of the environmental movement, and wrote this memoir

A friend of mine was the editor of a delightfully obscure academic journal of Marian studies. Knowing my interest in botany and wild plants, she asked me to review an even more obscure book devoted to plants named after the Holy Virgin. It turned out to be a charming work, with the additional quirk that it was....written in Norwegian. How quirky can a review get? 

In 1982 I became fascinated by the unfolding of the Anglo-Argentinian conflict around the Falkland Islands, and kept a diary recording my thoughts. The interest arises from the fact that as events unfolded, nobody knew what the outcome would be. This is accessible through a special blog I created for the purpose, www.harpersmuse.blogspot.co.uk. It is a kind of notated Oral history, and would be of special interest to those who were also there at the time.