I don’t know how many readers of this column are familiar with a prayer in which, roughly, one prays for the strength to change what needs to be changed, the resilience to put up with what can’t be altered, and the wisdom to know which things fall into which of these two categories.

Care costs

I wish I had a pound for every time that someone has come to one of my advice surgeries over the past 16 years with a complaint about the fact that they or someone in their family were worried about having to sell their house in order to pay for the cost of care in old age.

Horse Meat

Over uncomfortably many years of political life, I have come to understand that there is such a thing as “the story”. Just as there’s a fashion for mini skirts one year and long dresses another, so there are fashions in the national media – only these tend to last for days or weeks rather than months or years.


Any regular reader of this column will be more than aware of my enthusiasm for the Big Society. The spirit of voluntary and community effort – the spirit of social self-help – has always seemed to me one of the best features of Britain, and I continue to believe that mountains can often be moved by people working together for themselves and their neighbours, rather than waiting for “them” to “do something about it”.

Post Offices

For years and years, we have been seeing a gradual reduction in the number of them around the country – often with considerable, if unseen, effects on social networks in the villages and suburbs that the sub post offices so often served.


Although science has moved on a bit since the time of Aristotle, the Ancient Greeks were certainly on to something when they identified the four “elements” – earth, fire, air and water – as fundamental building blocks of our world. We would be pretty stuck without any one of these. And water is at least as important as each of the other three.


Amidst all the talk that one hears about the British economy, with its reference to big numbers and big concepts like “gross domestic product” and “fiscal balances”, it is easy to forget that it is, in the end, the skill and ingenuity of our people that enables us to compete and hence creates our wealth.

Miles Cross, Bridport

For the last 16 years, on and off, I have found myself concerned with a small patch of road known as Miles Cross. I imagine that almost any reader of the Bridport News will be familiar with this particular location – and I imagine that most would share my view, substantiated by the statistics, that this particular patch of road is unsatisfactory.

Dorchester Sports Centre

Some years ago, the topic of a new sports hall for Dorchester was being hotly debated. Temperatures in the various relevant bureaucracies reached boiling point, and I began to fear that the project would fail altogether.

Snow clearance

It’s always tempting for any citizen and anyone involved in any particular business or level of government to point out the deficiencies of other people, other business and other local government. Indeed, I think it would be fair to describe it as a national pastime.