Making Manchester my home was an easy decision – it’s an open, free and culturally enriched city, packed with history, social change and a load of different races and religions.
But when the Arena bomb hit on May 22, it left a massive wound in the heart of the inclusive society I had loved.
With increasing animosity towards Muslims following the deaths of the 22 – at the hands of Salman Abedi – I spoke to people in Manchester who have seen the change for the New Statesman.
A celebrity figure who is struggling with a mental health issue has become fair game for the gutter press, and there’s nothing that one particular publication won’t do, it seems.
Using a gif of a heartbreaking video, the Mail Online showed that Bedlam – the place where members of the public gathered to point and stare at those who were living in a prison of madness – is alive and well – and online.
I wrote about this for the New Statesman here.
The bête noire of the establishment, a thorn in the side of traditional Hollywood, or a left-leaning polemiscist who doesn’t let facts bother him…?
Whatever your view of Oliver Stone, the filmmaker has been marching to the beat of his own drum for decades.
And the release of Showtime series, The Putin Interviews, worked well to reintroduce him to a controversial world.
When I spoke to him, he was brawling and bristling in tone, but gave a standard account of himself: if you take an opinion of him into the room, you’d better be prepared to back it up.
This is by me, for the New Statesman.
The Starmus Festival in Norway is an annual celebration of the music and science which grips its founder, Garik Israelian.
But the matter of the moonwalkers surely grips all of us – men who have left our planet and had the adventure of a lifetime.
This Getty image says all you need to know about the lives of those true explorers.
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin was on Apollo 11, Charlie Duke was on Apollo 16 and Harrison “Jack” Schmitt was an Apollo 17 moonwalker.
And they all got together (Buzz onscreen from home, due to illness) to talk about the trials and lessons of the trip – to me, for the New Statesman.
Katharine Hayhoe discusses the trolling she gets with a breezy nonchalance which belies its viciousness.
The atmospheric scientist has been named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people and one of Politico’s 50 thinkers transforming American politics.
Originally from Canada, she moved to Buddy Holly’s hometown of Lubbock in Texas and met with a climate change denial which she found breathtaking.
Her online life, she says, is characterised by people -mainly white, mainly politically conservative, mainly men – telling her she knows nothing.
I spoke to her at Norway’s Starmus Festival of music and science for the New Statesman.
A couple of decades after the IRA bombing, a Manchester resident struck at the heart of the city’s innocence and culture – blowing himself up in the Arena during a pop concert.
With 22 dead – the terrorist Salman Abedi also – the city the day after was not quite in mourning yet, simply living in shock.
I spoke to people in the streets who were there in body, but with worries and thoughts miles away, telling me “I just want to be anywhere that’s not Manchester”.
I wrote this for the New Statesman.
Manchester is my adopted home. It’s been so good to me and my family, and I am continually thrilled at the friendly nature of those who live and work in such a massive city.
But there’s something rotten at the core of the community: homelessness.
There are hundreds across the region who have no home to go to, and a shocking proportion of them even sleep on the streets, many taking drugs to get through.
It was heartening when the London-based homeless charity Centrepoint told me that they were intending to tackle the use of the drug ‘spice’ amongst 16-25 year olds.
It might be a small step, but it’s one on the right direction. You can read the piece on Lovin Manchester here.
On the eve of the election for a new metro mayor for Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham had the support and faith of so many.
But as well as holding the ideals which would help to make the city region a better place, the Labour man leaving behind Westminster’s uneven party politics under Corbyn was also entrusted by voters to solve one of the overwhelming issues there: homelessness.
I wrote for the New Statesman about those who put their belief in him, those who need him to succeed – and the position of the man himself.
The Ukip conference was an interesting view into a world I had not previously known.
As a left-leaning England blow-in with education in the Middle East, Northern Ireland and, at a tertiary level, Scotland, I can’t pretend to share their politics.
But what I saw at the conference revealed to me that their politics aren’t as clear-cut as we assume from the outside.
This piece in The Staggers was my final take on he days events, when the Stoke by-election overshadowed everything.
Read it here.
While Article 50 has yet to be triggered and the full ramifications of Britain’s EU exit remain unclear, it’s hard to judge the success of June 23’s vote.
But Nigel Farage told the Ukip conference that it was a success – and not only that but if the vote happened again it would be more of a landslide for ‘leave’.
It seems safe to say simply because it can’t be proven otherwise.
Here is the piece I wrote for the New Statesman.