Archive for Encounters

Meetings, discussions and interviews with particular individuals. A good number of these entries were written as profiles and features for the Guardian in the 1990s.

Drawing by Andrzej Krauze, 11 September 2007

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Saving ‘Versions’ – with no thanks to Microsoft »

August 26th, 2010 | Posted in: Articles General, Encounters, Found Objects

My requirements from word-processing software are pretty simple. I still reckon that the most amenable I’ve ever used was the ‘Word’ for Macs programme that I had on a Macintosh SE way back in the Dark Ages. I remember feeling impressed that it had been worth anybody’s time to come up with an invention that seemed so perfectly suited to the requirements of writers, students, and other characteristically unmoneyed types. Having transferred to PCs at a time when Apple seemed to be going nowhere (between the first Powerbooks and the G2s as I recall), I’ve since reconciled myself to ‘Word’ as it comes bundled up in Microsoft Office. I have done this despite the fact that my software nowadays seems to think, quite wrongly, that it knows who I am. Increasingly, it is convinced that I should be writing business letters, or corporate reports in which ‘bullet-points’ and tables feature prominently…

Richard Littlejohn – Drinking in the Albion »

February 27th, 1993 | Posted in: Articles General, Aversions, Encounters

A meeting with the award-winning Sun
columnist, shortly after the murder of Jamie Bulger.

Published as the ‘Monday Profile’ in the Guardian, 27 February 1993.

Dennis Potter – The last acre of truth »

February 15th, 1993 | Posted in: Articles General, Encounters, Englishness and British national identity

A profile of the television dramatist Dennis Potter. I met him early one morning in his agent’s office, near Covent Garden. He was still drinking wine from the previous night’s party connected to the launch of ‘Lipstick On Your Collar’ – agonising but lucid. Published in the Guardian, 15 February 1993.

In the Land of the Hyphen – Jan Budaj and ‘Fictional Culture’ in Slovakia before the Split »

June 1st, 1990 | Posted in: Articles General, Czecho-Slovakia, Encounters, Politics

In the summer of 1990, I visited Slovakia, then still part of Czechoslovakia, to watch preparations for the first general election since the Velvet Revolution. Jan Budaj had recently emerged as leader of Public Against Violence (VPN), the Slovak sister organisation of Civic Forum, but I had previously met him in the Communist era. Having been much impressed by the courage with which he had then lived as a persistently harassed dissident, I was shocked when I heard, just after my return to Britain (and the publication of this article), that he had been forced to resign after the closure of the polls. He was the victim of a ‘lustration’ process involving the manipulative publication of information from secret police files in Prague. Having won the election through Budaj’s campaign, Public Against Violence split in 1991, and power went to the breakaway Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, lead by the populist Vladimir Meciar. This article was published as ‘Gesture Politics’ in New Statesman and Society, 1 June 1990, pp. 16-20

Donald Trump and his gleaming Tower »

June 17th, 1988 | Posted in: Articles General, Encounters, Miscellaneous rigs of the time

In December 1987, I stepped into an opulent new building on Fifth Avenue in New York City and found myself face to face with Donald Trump. Our eyes did not meet, but I did write this article about the man, his just published autobiography and his Tower. Published as ‘The man who would be Christ’, New Statesman & Society, 17 June 1988