Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
The Faber Book of Children\’s Verse
Janet Adam Smith (Faber 1963)
I still have my copy of this book with my childish ten-year-old’s signature written in it. It was the book that introduced me to poetry and I used to devour it in my room. I would recite it over and over again – poems by people like Lord Macauley, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Hilaire Belloc, William Blake, Shakespeare, among so many others. The primary school I went to had a poetry competition every year. You had to learn a poem and I thought if I learnt the longest poem I could find they would have to give me the prize. So I spent hours learning the whole of The Revenge by Tennyson and can still quote most of it to this day. ‘At Flores in the Azores Sir Richard Grenville lay …’ I didn’t win the prize, no doubt on account of me making everyone listen to something for such a long time.
Hergé (Le Petit Vingtieme 1929-1983)
This is probably not a very politically correct book to have listed in a publication like Red Pepper but I wasn’t aware of the implications of Hergé’s politics when I read it. The thing about it was that I read it in French and it was a brilliant way to learn the language because the pictures were such vivid illustrations of the words and it was always a cracking good yarn. When my sons were very young I read the stories to them, in English, and, similarly, it was a great way for them to learn how to read. I read all the stories, many times over, to all three of them. I could probably walk away with the Mastermind prize with Tintin as my subject.
Crime and Punishment
Fyodor Dostoevsky (Penguin Classics 1866)
I was knocked out by this book when I first read it. It revolves around the murder of a hated female moneylender by an impoverished student Raskolnikov, who struggles to justify his act on the grounds that he is a superior being, and by killing the old woman he is doing the world a service. The murder occurs early in the story and the main body of the novel examines the delirious state of Raskolnikov’s mind and the psychological battle with the detective trying to solve the case.
Burnt Norton, one of The Four Quartets
T S Eliot (Faber and Faber 1935)
To me this is the greatest attempt by any English writer to communicate the ideas of eastern, particularly Buddhist, religions of living in the present. He plays about with Time in a beautiful, profound, poetic way, always coming back to the notion that the only real exisitence is in the Now. But he doesn’t merely do it in an intellectual way, he somehow manages to give you a glimpse of the physical feeling of what it is like to truly live in the moment, even while acknowledging that there aren’t really the words to describe an experience that is, essentially, beyond words. ‘What might have been and what has been point to one end, which is always present.’
Harold Pinter (First performed in 1960)
I think I can fairly say that seeing The Caretaker for the first time in 1960 was the most memorable evening I’ve ever had in the theatre. Suddenly, for the first time, someone was creating characters who spoke in a way that I recognised from the street. They were real to me in the sense that they faltered, they hesitated, they weren’t always articulate, they were inconsistent. There was poetry in their everyday speech. And above all they were hilariously funny. I got hold of a text as soon as I could, and in the course of time have played all three of the characters in the play. I’ve performed in several of Pinter’s other plays and its been a rare privilege to have got to know and work with someone who had such a massive impact on me as a student.
The London A-Z
The A-Z Map Company
This might seem a flippant choice but in fact I’m a bit of a map obsessive and I’ve probably spent more time looking at this one than any other, by virtue of the fact I live in London. I love poring over maps and planning routes, almost to the extent that I prefer it to actually going there. Somehow its just as interesting to me to see that contour mark on the Ordnance Survey as to actually experience it. There’s something about a map that promises all kinds of possibilities that aren’t neccessarily always fulfilled when you get there.
The Magical Child
Joseph Chiltern Pearce (Plume 1992)
This is a seminal work that was something of a bible for my wife and myself when we were bringing up our children. Essentially it’s a book that acknowledges the innate intelligence of a baby before and after birth and encourages the parent to let the child develop its abilities at an appropriate pace, to trust in its own instinctive survival mechanisms and to explore the physical nature of the world without fear.
The Collected Works of William Shakespeare
I used to give puppet performances of Shakespeare as a child and he’s been a friend to me ever since. I’ve been wrestling with the infinite complexities and subtleties of the iambic pentameter and I’m always going back to the ones I love, and to the sonnets. I’m still surprised at how many of his phrases and sayings have become a staple of the English language.
Roger Lloyd-Pack is perhaps best known for his roles as Trigger in Only Fools and Horses, Owen Newitt in The Vicar of Dibley, the evil John Lumic in Dr Who and Barty Crouch in Harry Potter. He is currently working on a new comedy.
His selections can be purchased here.
A portion of the sales from purchases made through Red Pepper/Eclector’s book store contribute money to Red Pepper. Not all titles are available.
Louis Mendee explains the real human costs of climate change for the global south.
From climate change to automation to demographic shifts, Mathew Lawrence explains the challenges our economy will face in the coming decade.
Fifty years after the Abortion Act, women are still dying from being denied basic services, write activists from Feminist Fightback
We need to tackle the patronising ideology that lets Tory think-tanks sneer at social tenants, writes Emma Dent Coad
Acid Corbynism allows people to imagine a future beyond the paltry offerings of capitalism, writes Keir Milburn
'We wanted to use a shared love of the beautiful game to stand in solidarity with those living under occupation', writes Kate Hadley.
Priti Patel's shady deals are business as usual. Enough is enough, writes Eleanor Penny
Boris Johnson is a local disaster and a national embarrassment. He must go, writes James Clouting
The global elite have been stealing from society on an unprecedented scale, writes Tom Walker
Richard Murphy says that the appropriate political will and understanding of tax can put an end to offshore avoidance and evasion
Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism
Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte argue that Catalonia's independence movement is driven by solidarity – and resistance to far-right Spanish nationalists
Tabloids do not represent the working class
The tabloid press claims to be an authentic voice of the working class - but it's run by and for the elites, writes Matt Thompson
As London City Airport turns 30, let’s imagine a world without it
London City Airport has faced resistance for its entire lifetime, writes Ali Tamlit – and some day soon we will win
The first world war sowed the seeds of the Russian revolution
An excerpt from 'October', China Mieville's book revisiting the story of the Russian Revolution
Academies run ‘on the basis of fear’
Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was described in a damning report as an organisation run 'on the basis of fear'. Jon Trickett MP examines an education system in crisis.
‘There is no turning back to a time when there wasn’t migration to Britain’
David Renton reviews the Migration Museum's latest exhibition
#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny
Meet the digital feminists
We're building new online tools to create a new feminist community and tackle sexism wherever we find it, writes Franziska Grobke
The Marikana women’s fight for justice, five years on
Marienna Pope-Weidemann meets Sikhala Sonke, a grassroots social justice group led by the women of Marikana
Forget ‘Columbus Day’ – this is the Day of Indigenous Resistance
By Leyli Horna, Marcela Terán and Sebastián Ordonez for Wretched of the Earth
Uber and the corporate capture of e-petitions
Steve Andrews looks at a profit-making petition platform's questionable relationship with the cab company
You might be a centrist if…
What does 'centrist' mean? Tom Walker identifies the key markers to help you spot centrism in the wild
Black Journalism Fund Open Editorial Meeting in Leeds
Friday 13th October, 5pm to 7pm, meeting inside the Laidlaw Library, Leeds University
This leadership contest can transform Scottish Labour
Martyn Cook argues that with a new left-wing leader the Scottish Labour Party can make a comeback
Review: No Is Not Enough
Samir Dathi reviews No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics, by Naomi Klein
Building Corbyn’s Labour from the ground up: How ‘the left’ won in Hackney South
Heather Mendick has gone from phone-banker at Corbyn for Leader to Hackney Momentum organiser to secretary of her local party. Here, she shares her top tips on transforming Labour from the bottom up
Five things to know about the independence movement in Catalonia
James O'Nions looks at the underlying dynamics of the Catalan independence movement
‘This building will be a library!’ From referendum to general strike in Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte report from the Catalan general strike, as the movements prepare to build a new republic
Chlorine chickens are just the start: Liam Fox’s Brexit trade free-for-all
A hard-right free marketer is now in charge of our trade policy. We urgently need to develop an alternative vision, writes Nick Dearden
There is no ‘cult of Corbyn’ – this is a movement preparing for power
The pundits still don’t understand that Labour’s new energy is about ‘we’ not ‘me’, writes Hilary Wainwright
Debt relief for the hurricane-hit islands is the least we should do
As the devastation from recent hurricanes in the Caribbean becomes clearer, the calls for debt relief for affected countries grow stronger, writes Tim Jones
‘Your credit score is not sufficient to enter this location’: the risks of the ‘smart city’
Jathan Sadowski explains techno-political trends of exclusion and enforcement in our cities, and how to overcome this new type of digital oppression
Why I’m standing with pregnant women and resisting NHS passport checks
Dr Joanna Dobbin says the government is making migrant women afraid to seek healthcare, increasing their chances of complications or even death
‘Committees in Defence of the Referendum’: update from Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte on developments as the Catalan people resist the Spanish state's crackdown on their independence referendum
The rights and safety of LGBTQ+ people are not guaranteed – we must continue to fight for them
Kennedy Walker looks at the growth in hate attacks at a time when the Tory government is being propped up by homophobes