Mark Piggott

Inside the world’s first museum of homelessness

I’m sitting in a small, cramped room with 20 other people staring at a stick. Not just any stick, mind: it’s been customised with gaffer tape and paint so it looks like a punk shillelagh. The stick has a range of purposes, says the young black woman giving the presentation: comfort, protection, and its primary

Are people with Alzheimer’s being denied justice?

My mother, aged 75, has advanced Alzheimer’s. This is heart-breaking enough – she is now at a stage where she has terrifying visions, and keeps asking me, her only son, where her son Mark is. But twice in the past five years we have been denied justice in cases where people were suspected of taking advantage of

The surprising appeal of Sweden’s second largest city

Sweden is often overlooked as a holiday destination by Brits due to lazy misconceptions about the Scandinavian weather and prices. Yet Swedish summers are arguably more predictable than our own, with average temperatures in the low 20s throughout June, July and August and the food, whether dining at a seaside café or grand hotel, is

Spare a thought for ‘Generation Sandwich’

Sunday was fairly typical. The police picked up Mum, 73, wandering in distress near Halifax bus station, cold, disorientated and lost. Son, 15, was walking with a friend in north London when two older boys stopped them and demanded to know if they were dealing drugs before scrolling through their phones to check. Daughter, 18

What do Extinction Rebellion have against a free press?

One can only hope that the profound political thinkers of Extinction Rebellion took care not to dump cow manure on the wrong steps when they descended en masse to Kensington this week. According to the group, which used the somewhat confusing ‘#Freethepress’ slogan, the target of their protest was Northcliffe House, home of the Daily

Why I can’t forgive the man who destroyed my childhood

How do you forgive the person who put you through hell as a child? That’s the question that will be running through my mind when I watch footballer turned pundit Ian Wright’s documentary tonight on domestic violence. Wright says he has made peace with the stepfather who subjected him and his family to physical and psychological abuse.

Brexit and gender are off limits for aspiring authors

When a small US publisher accepted my first book for young adults, ‘Crosstrack’, it wasn’t long before things went pear shaped. The novel follows two teenage athletes, one a middle class American, the other a young Syrian refugee. Apart from cycling ability, they have another thing in common: both are trans.  I’d anticipated a backlash

The tragedy behind every Covid death

On a grey January morning, at a small, sparsely attended ceremony in a chapel in North London, we said goodbye to my granddad, one more statistic in this vile pandemic. Jack Brown grew up in poverty in Ipswich and performed heroically in the Navy during world war two; twice-sunk, once by an enemy torpedo, once

Dementia brings a unique pain to the misery of lockdown

Three days into 2021, an aunt texts to inform that my grandfather has died. In November he was admitted to hospital after a fall at the London flat where he has lived alone since the death of my grandmother in 2008. Just before New Year’s Eve he was tested for Covid-19 then sent home, only

In defence of Millwall

Were Millwall fans wrong to boo players who knelt in support of Black Lives Matter? Yes, according to the assembled pundits who are paid a fortune to talk about football.  ‘Let’s be fair,’ wrote Gary Lineker, ‘it only appears to be a small minority of Millwall fans that didn’t boo the players taking the knee’.

What has Ted Hughes’s ancestor got to do with his poetry?

Scandalously, we never studied Ted Hughes at school. As the Poet Laureate is arguably the finest British poet of the 20th century this would be a scandal wherever I attended (‘studied’ would be pushing it) but I attended Calder High in Ted’s home town of Mytholmroyd. Though the grand total of my published poems stands at

Why is the free school meals debate so toxic?

My childhood in 1980s West Yorkshire wasn’t a clichéd mash-up of a Hovis commercial and Kes. For most of my youth we had an indoor toilet, for instance, and though we lived in a cramped terraced house it wasn’t a back-to-back – which meant we could hang our washing in the back alley rather than

Why bending the law is sometimes the right thing to do

Shortly after booking a train ticket from London to West Yorkshire to accompany my mum to the doctor, I received a letter explaining that due to Covid-19 the appointment would now take place over the phone. Having booked the time off work, I decided to visit her anyway – despite the fact she and my

Can we stop with the VE Day moral relativism?

Fantastic news that the 75th anniversary of the end of hostilities in Europe will be a more sombre, sober affair this year due to our current mortal foe, coronavirus. Three days of celebrations had been planned, including processions, street parties and church services, almost all of which have had to be postponed. A good thing,

There’s much more to Islington than Corbyn and Ocado

News that Islington’s yummy mummies are up in arms about a proposed Ocado refuelling centre near a local primary school has caused much mirth and merriment in the media. How hypocritical, that the very people who use Ocado deliveries most – when not driving their 4WDs with Greenpeace bumper stickers to the Nags Head branch

Renter’s paradise

On turning 50, I realised I’d never own my own home. What bank would agree to give a mortgage to someone with no regular source of income? Even if I did somehow hold down a job, I would have just 15 years until retirement age. For a while, I was depressed. Owning your own home

The destructive culture of perfection

In the past week, two very different stories have highlighted our innate desire to generalise people, to raise them up as heroes, ciphers for the things we believe in, then bring them crashing down when they no longer keep to those high standards we probably don’t reach ourselves. There can’t be many compassionate people who

Men and women of the world, unite!

I’ve worked in several warehouses unloading stock and I’ve also worked in supermarkets stacking shelves. I’d have to say the latter is marginally harder. Not that there’s much in it: both are physically hard, mentally untaxing, and probably undervalued – but then, don’t we all feel undervalued at work? Warehouse jobs are more of a

In defence of extreme moderation

Reading Melanie Phillips in this morning’s Times made me really cross. Nothing unusual in that – except I’m cross because I agreed with every word she had to say about free speech, and the lunatic attacks on Canadian academic Jordan Peterson by activists who have the gall to call themselves progressive. Peterson, in case you

London’s crime map tells a damning tale of two cities

It’s just a few metres from Bartholomew Court, EC1, where a young man was one of four stabbed to death over the New Year, to trendy Hoxton, famous for its cereal bars and hirsute hipsters. It would be easy to say these two worlds – those of the trendy media types lampooned by ‘Nathan Barley’