On Meister Eckhart – May 2016

On Meister Eckhart

Let us come to Meister Eckhart not as a figure from the remote past some seven hundred years ago, a spiritual phenomenon of a mediaeval Europe whose cultural conditioning was vastly distant from our own experience, but as a fellow human being, growing up to choose his path in life and his priorities amid all the urges and appetites, options and allures that bear upon a young person of a given intelligence and gravity, who might be sitting among us at this table. Let us suppose him drawn, like us, to fulfil the purpose of a spiritual life . . . as could be lived or attempted by someone of his circle or of his family, who were of respectable standing just like us, but in Thuringia in the middle of central Germany, in a horse-drawn era.
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The All-purpose Bogeyman – The Spectator, August 2003

The All-purpose Bogeyman:
Idi Amin was up to his elbows in blood,
says Tom Stacey, but the appalling truth is
that he had some admirable qualities

THE SPECTATOR — August 2003

One has to be careful of saying anything nice about people like Idi Amin, even when they are dead and gone. It is easy to get a reputation for being deliberately provocative, or for seeking compassion kudos like the late Lord Longford, who befriended convicts for the sheer magnitude of their infamy.
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The Mountains of the Moon – The Spectator, January 2002

The Mountains of the Moon:
Septuagenarian Tom Stacey pits himself
against the glaciers of the Equator

THE SPECTATOR — January 2002

The other day, when it was still summer in Kensington, I was gripped by a compulsion to climb to the snows of the Mountains of the Moon. Such a compulsion was unusual and, I sensed immediately, a little sinister in someone over 70. It was a compulsion to engage in eternity-challenge: i.e., to sidle up to God and mutter, ‘This is me. You’ll take me now?’
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Observer Magazine, March 1992

Observer Magazine
March 1992

Tom Stacey once found himself locked up in jail in India, and the experience marked him for life. Not physically – he was only jugged, as he put it, for a few weeks under the Defence Regulations when he was a foreign correspondent – but in his attitudes. Knowing what it felt like when a steel door banged shut behind him and the man with the key to his cell had power over his whole life concentrated his mind. ‘I thought, this is something I know more about than anybody in penal reform. You can’t simulate it, you can’t invent. You can visit prisons until you are blue in the face but you can’t know what it’s like unless you have experienced it.’
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Towards A New Sobriety – Daily Telegraph Magazine, March 1974

Towards A New Sobriety


The democracies grow increasingly ungovernable. No one now disputes this. Never has power been as centralised as it is today. The immense mechanisms of government can be controlled by switches on the Minister’s desk. Yet the democracies grow increasingly ungovernable. It is a phenomenon of perversities. Governments fight inflation while printing much more money than the value of output. Demands for equality grow in violence in inverse proportion to the narrowing of all discernible gaps. Industrial indiscipline mounts with the affluence of the workers. The shorter the hours, the greater the absenteeism. Contempt for the politicians grows with the people’s power to choose them.

O Lord, save us from ourselves.
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Contenders at the Pyre – The Sunday Times, 31 May 1964


The Sunday Times  – May 31, 1964

It was like a Pharaoh’s going. When they burned him by the river, his soul crossed the water. The people, in their millions (I cannot estimate a million, but millions are always recognisable) stood on a low ridge in a great horseshoe a mile across in the dust haze, watching the speck of orange flame of the pyre in the burning teatime sunlight, and the tiny figures circling the pyre, priests at an altar.
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Africans feel the sting of Russia’s colour bar – Sunday Times, December 1963

Africans feel the sting of Russia’s colour bar

SUNDAY TIMES December 1963

In their march on the Kremlin last week, 700 African students gave vent to their feelings about the treatment they experience from their Russian hosts. Two incidents described below by Tom Stacey, who has just returned from the Soviet Union, show how harsh the Russian attitude to Africans can be — and with 3,000 African students in the U.S.S.R. these could be multiplied many times.

Naomi and Ruth could hardly have outdone our greeting. We embraced — the beastly British colonialist and colonialism’s oppressed victim — we embraced with fervour; he Ghanaian and black and l — well, an Orwellian pinko-grey. The thronged airport at Alma Ata was no longer self-immersed; it was witnessing a dialectical impossibility.
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Eamon de Valera – Sunday Times, October 1962

Eamon de Valera:
The Man Who Became A Country

SUNDAY TIMES — October, 1962

He is a study in single-mindedness. Now, on the threshold of his eightieth birthday – next Sunday – Eamon de Valera can look back over a life in which there has been no deviation, no compromise, all fight. It came to him early, he claims, even though political or military affairs did not capture his full energies until he was well over 30. He proudly recollects: ‘I have political experiences from five years on’; and the old President who, in his presence, one does not think of as old, because the mind is vigorous, the voice young, the personality outgiving, and though he is almost blind, nothing about him physically suggests frailty or tiredness or anything weak – the old man recalls the arrival at his grandmother’s home in Limerick, in 1887of a brass band rally support for Captain Boycott’s campaign against the English. Young Eamon had been given a little side drum and he tried to beat it like the big drummer beat his – over his stomach; but could not, and became furious. That drum was a political instrument, he has always believed.
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