I woke with a jolt at 5:30am, unrested and irritable, the sun blazing through the open skylight of my already stifling loft bedroom. After trying and failing for two more agitated hours, I gave up on the idea of getting any more sleep. Sitting up I reached for my phone and – though it is a hated early morning habit – opened Twitter. The first post, from a local reporter, caught my tired eyes: ‘Chaos in the city centre’, accompanied by a series of photos of one of the busiest rush hour jam spots in Nottingham cordoned off by police tapes, deserted. The tweet wasRead More →

This list is guest-edited by Benedict Cooper, freelance journalist and trustee of the Orwell Society, who wrote an article for the i newspaper about the remarkable number of misquotations attributed online to the original railer against fake news. 1. “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” Appears to have been first used, without the “universal”, and mistakenly attributed to Orwell, in Partners in Ecocide: Australia’s Complicity in the Uranium Cartel, by Venturino Giorgio Venturini in 1982. 2. “A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims, but accomplices.” This precise phrase does not appear inRead More →

This article appeared in the Nottingham Post in March 2022. Vladimir Putin is using historical “tricks” to justify war against Ukraine, an expert in European history at the University of Nottingham has said. Dr Liudmyla Sharipova, assistant professor of early modern European history in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Nottingham, says she is in a “state of shock and horror” seeing events unfold in her country of birth, where her elderly mother is still trapped and extremely vulnerable in the capital, Kyiv. Dr Sharipova says that the Russian President is deliberately using false allegations and spurious historical documents allegedly dating back toRead More →

The slow progress of Putin’s invasion forces in Ukraine is no cause for celebration. Nor are reports of blunders, even major strategic errors, or a “depressed” mood in Moscow. Nor should the unassailable win Ukraine and President Zelensky have in the courtroom of world opinion, or the scorn that has fallen on the Russian leader, be mistaken for real victory. Putin will not accept failure in Ukraine. He is all in. There will be some terrible victory, of a kind, or this will be his downfall. Putin knows that the fulcrum nation of Ukraine is increasingly looking towards Europe and away from his glare. RussianRead More →

This feature first appeared in the Nottingham Post in January 2022 Afghan interpreters risked their lives to help British forces during the long struggle to stabilise the country. Now with the Taliban back in command, thousands of those who assisted our troops are being resettled across the UK. Ben Cooper spoke to a former interpreter starting a new life with his young family in a quiet Nottinghamshire village. Ahmadullah Waziri is living under a sentence of death. As an interpreter for the British Army between 2010 and 2011, and later a Lieutenant Colonel in the Allied-trained Afghan National Army, in the eyes of the TalibanRead More →

This comment piece appeared in the Nottingham Post in October 2021. Nottinghamshire Live writer Ben Cooper takes a look at how the relationship between students and the city was affected by covid, and how first reactions on both sides weren’t necessarily the best ones Nottingham benefits immeasurably from the presence of its two great universities. It is terribly sad that over the past 18 months of pain and strain, one casualty seems to have been the relationship between the 60,000 students that attend those universities, and the people for whom Nottingham is their permanent home. In truth, as in all university cities, that relationship hasRead More →

This article first appeared in the Nottingham Post in September 2021 The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has stirred harrowing memories of a conflict that claimed hundreds of British Army lives and left thousands suffering with severe trauma. With so many ex-soldiers still fighting their own personal battles long after leaving the armed forces, Ben Cooper asks, are we doing enough in Nottinghamshire to care for our veterans? Richard Fotheringham knew that he was harbouring terrible memories from five bloody tours of Iraq and Afghanistan. Memories of seeing one of the soldiers in his command killed by a bullet through the neck, and losing two ofRead More →

Listening to Prof Neil Greenberg, consultant occupational psychologist and forensic psychiatrist at King’s College London, you might think he is describing the psychological conditions of a war zone, not the NHS in 2021. He talks about “frontline psychiatry”; the threat of “moral injury” in the line of duty; the need for a military-style covenant to protect traumatised NHS staff; the importance of camaraderie, psychological action plans and a supervisory “buddy system” for beleaguered NHS workers. Before he joined King’s College, Greenberg spent 23 years in the armed forces, studying and developing new methods of treating the victims of battlefield trauma. His work in the fieldRead More →