It was a while before he even realised she was on the platform at York Road. He’d been running on autopilot. It was… God, what? Five years since he’d last seen someone there.

Neville applied the brakes and brought the train to a halt. He was secretly delighted that the cab eased to a stop directly in line with the black London Underground roundel on the platform wall opposite. Okay, he couldn’t remember a time when he hadn’t done this, but it was always satisfying. Even more so with an audience.

He turned on the door camera nearest to his mystery passenger. …


One of the most popular shows of the eighties, Knight Rider was the result of unique combination of a quirk of Glen A. Larson’s contract, and a chance meeting on a plane…

Michael Knight (David Hasslehoff) and K.I.T.T.

Knight Rider is the Lone Ranger,” Glen A. Larson once explained in an interview with the Archive of American Television (AAT). “It’s one man comes into town and he has a little bit more going for him than people think — and that’s a great theme! I didn’t make that concept up. That’s just what it is.”

Larson was right to claim that the premise behind one of the eighties’ most iconic shows was not particularly unique. The Lone Ranger concept is older than television itself. …


What price art, in a world where it no longer pays?

Fatima turned the key slowly and pushed. The front door opened with barely a click. She smiled to herself. She’d got the whole routine down to an art now:

Wait round the corner until seven forty-five, as that’s when the evening matches kicked off, then open the door quietly. The first and fifth floorboards in the hallway were loose and creaked, so you had to dodge them. The same was true for pretty much all of the stairs up to the first floor, with the exception of stairs four, five, seven, ten and twelve.

Once you were up on the…


The Greek God of failing upward takes on a new role: Master of Intelligence.

Chris Grayling in front of a Union Jack
Chris Grayling in front of a Union Jack

“I’m so glad we could meet like this, Mr Grayling.” She said. “Diplomacy is better over golf.”

“Mini-golf, Miss Romanova.” He corrected, with genteel patriarchy. The distinction was, he felt, important. They were quite different sports.

Chris reflected on how his life had changed so suddenly. Just two weeks ago he’d been sat at home, enjoying the quiet life of a backbencher. He’d even found time to start a new hobby, creating YouTube mashups of Thomas the Tank Engine brio and popular music — anonymously, of course.

Indeed, he’d been in the middle of a particularly ambitious mashup— a double…


How bad aircraft design and demand for cheap air travel helped cause two of the worst air disasters in recent history.

A Boeing 737/8 MAX of Batik Air Malaysia at Kuala Lumpur-KUL, Malaysia

The morning of 29 October 2018 dawned bright in Jakarta. As the sun rose over Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft operating Lion Air flight 610 taxied for takeoff.

In the flight deck of PK-LQP that morning were captain Bhavye Suneja and his first officer Harvino. With over 6,000 hours in the air, Suneja was no novice, although Lion Air’s aggressive approach to promotions had seen him reach captain earlier than he might at other airlines. Harvino, who like many Indonesians used only one name, was also relatively experienced, with over 5,000 hours.

Certainly, the trip to…


More random PTerry fanfic, prompted by Twitter conversations and… events.

“How do you think he’s doing in there?” Captain Angua asked.

“Oh I’m sure the Comm…” Carrot caught himself just in time. “I’m sure the Patrician is taking it all in his stride.”

It has been said that over time buildings become more than just objects, that they evolve personalities of their own. This isn’t true, but history is messy and prone to leaving excess deposits of narrativium in certain places. The Patrician’s Palace of Ankh Morpork, formerly the Royal Winter Palace, was practically built out of it. So as soon as Captain Carrot finished speaking, a scream erupted from…


As the UK goes full ‘Jingo’, the gaping literary maw left by Terry Pratchett’s death looms larger every day.

DISCLAIMER: This is just silly fan-fiction. It popped into my head over lunch after tweeting about how we need Pratchett’s insight (and anger at injustice) more than ever right now and has been dumped on this page as literary diarrhoea. Vimes, Lord Downey et al. are not my characters. Go buy Terry’s books, you will love them. I particularly recommend Jingo right now or The Truth.

“I just think we should get on with it.” Said a reedy voice from the other side of the table.

An awkward silence descended over the council chamber. That special kind of silence that…


It doesn’t matter whether you are ‘Leave’ or ‘Remain’. By proroguing parliament Boris Johnson has permanently wounded British democracy.

Sir Thomas More
Sir Thomas More

When I was fifteen, I remember being very annoyed at my GCSE English teacher. While other classes were studying Romeo and Juliet, My Fair Lady, and other stuff we’d all vaguely heard of, she insisted that we do different books and plays to everyone one else.

My, and indeed my classmates' outrage at the time was in part because this drastically limited the pool of people we could copy homework from. With hindsight, however, it was arguably one of the most brilliant and life-changing things a teacher ever did for me. …


One in eight British men believe they could score a point against Serena Williams. Andrew Neil interviewed two of them last night.

The fact that a not-insignificant percentage of men massively overrate their abilities — particularly in comparison to women — is depressing, but not particularly surprising. Actual science tells us that men are far more likely to apply for jobs that they aren’t quite qualified for than women.

Sometimes that’s because we interpret our abilities more generously than the opposite sex. Sometimes it’s because we’re convinced that we can fake it until we make it. In the BBC’s interviews with Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson last night, both of those tendencies were brutally and horrifically on show.

When he’s on form…


Arabian scholars, air raid sirens and a September Brexit. To the rest of the world this is political madness. In Britain it’s just a Tuesday.

There’s an old saying about how you can boil frogs without them noticing, as long as you do it slowly. After a week or so away from the news (I was running a conference) I’ve decided that this logic absolutely applies to British politics now too.

I mean, where do you even start this week? It’s only Tuesday and already enough has happened to fill several of the more surreal episodes of Black Mirror.

Let’s start with Britain’s pub-bore-in-chief, Nigel Farage. Footage has emerged of Farage entering a Brexit Party event to the sound of air raid sirens. …

John Bull

Writer and historian (military & transport). Editor of London Reconnections and Lapsed Historian. I focus on ordinary people who did extraordinary things.

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