Wrestling Kendo

I’m choking. Kendo Nagasaki, the most frightening wrestler this country ever produced, has got me in a three-quarter nelson: my head is in the crook of his elbow; his forearm is tight against my throat and he’s lifting it. I can’t breathe. I’m seeing stars, hearing popping sounds in my neck and trying not toContinue reading “Wrestling Kendo”

A balm for the soul of a Pope in a gilded cage

The Sistine Chapel Choir is launching the first album in its 500 year history. I went to hear it perform in a private concert under the frescoes of Michelangelo, and found that for the first time there is a British man among the Pope’s full time personal singers. The Vatican provokes complicated reactions in me,Continue reading “A balm for the soul of a Pope in a gilded cage”

Saying goodbye to Bartley Gorman, bareknuckle boxing champion of the world

The new heavyweight champion Tyson Fury is said to be related to a legendary figure called Bartley Gorman who was for decades the bare-knuckle champion of the world. I was at Gorman’s funeral in 2002, a day that lives long in the memory. This is what I wrote at the time.

Firle: In An English Country Melting Pot

Nowhere in England looks more like the perfect English village than Firle in East Sussex. It has an ancient church, with bells that ring out across beautiful countryside. There is a fine old pub with a roaring fire. The cottages, made of brick and flint, have roses growing in their gardens. Children are playing inContinue reading “Firle: In An English Country Melting Pot”