Urban Peasants

BY ROGER WATSON In China it appears you can take the peasant out of rural areas, but you cannot stop them being a peasant. Early in the last decade China ini­­­tiated a project to move 250 million people from rural areas to the cities; from shanties and small houses to the high rise apartments that characterise so much of their urban environment. In fact, since … Continue reading Urban Peasants

Cultural Cringe

BY ROGER WATSON “I just love Chinese culture.” I hear this often from people whose encounter with Chinese culture is limited to a weekly visit to the Yangtze River Chinese restaurant in town or having watched some ‘limited hangout’ documentaries by Michael Palin or Niall Ferguson on the BBC. My inevitable response is, “which aspects of Chinese culture do you like?” and offer them a … Continue reading Cultural Cringe

No Surprise Lefties Are Moving Right

BY ROGER WATSON ‘That surprises me’ is a response I often get to something I have said or done when I am speaking with friends and relatives who are more left-wing than me. Admittedly, it is not hard to be more left-wing than me, adhering as I do to a set of very traditional and conservative values. I dabbled with left-wing politics as a student. … Continue reading No Surprise Lefties Are Moving Right

The Island of Missing Trees

BY ROGER WATSON Elif Shafak is a Turkish feminist writer. A contemporary of Turkey’s ‘man of letters’ Orhan Pamuk, and, like Pamuk, persecuted by the present Turkish government, she chooses to live in England. Pamuk, on the other hand, under constant armed guard, chooses to remain in Istanbul. Being an outspoken writer in Turkey is a dangerous business. The topics covered by Shafak are wide … Continue reading The Island of Missing Trees

Something What I Learned

BY ROGER WATSON My fourteen-year-old grandson is a prolific writer. He blogs regularly on his favourite football team and has graced the pages of this esteemed organ. Progressively, he needs less and less of my editorial input. But in his final blog of the football season he referred to his ‘most favourite’ moment and I smugly pulled him up on that, informing him that he … Continue reading Something What I Learned

Welcome Back to Taiwan

BY ROGER WATSON “Welcome back to Taiwan…” “…do you still have diarrhoea?” Few, if any people arriving in the landside of customs at Chiang Kai-Shek airport near Taipei in Taiwan will have been greeted like this. The young student sent to welcome me, demonstrating typical Chinese directness and insensitivity, was referring to my previous visit when I arrived from Hong Kong following the worst bout … Continue reading Welcome Back to Taiwan


BY ROGER WATSON In Banalysis, Frank Haviland tackles an unpopular subject: that people are different from one another. To even the casual observer it is obvious that people are different, but to say so these days is virtually an anathema. In our increasingly homogenised world, we are expected to accept that nobody wins a race, they merely participate. Nobody fails an examination; instead they receive … Continue reading Banalysis

The Patch

BY ROGER WATSON Anyone with military connections will understand the term ‘patch’ which is a military colloquialism for accommodation where serving members of the armed forces live with their families. This is distinct from barracks and messes which are usually within the confines of a military camp. Living ‘on the patch’ therefore means living in military housing in the area immediately surrounding a military camp. … Continue reading The Patch

The Jasmine Sari

BY ROGER WATSON Published in 2017, this book has had a recent publicity boost and one without which I may never have come across it. It is self-published by the author Philip Tucker, which may explain its obscurity, but the author has clearly and happily decided to invest in having it advertised on the London Calling and Weekly Sceptic podcasts, both of which feature journalist … Continue reading The Jasmine Sari