In 2014, I am planning something new: a series of weekly articles about Britain and how it is run, in the year that might see Scots voting to end the country in its current form, and certainly sees the UK struggling to decide what sort of country it plans to become.
The name I’ve given this project is The Ends of Britain. That’s as in a posssible ending through Scottish independence, but also ‘ends’ as in purposes, and also out-of-the-way parts of the country (places I always like to write about).
The place I’m hoping will be the home for this project, Beacon, is a site that charges for access: US$5 a month, or about £3. (You can cancel whenever you want if you chose the pay-monthly option, and get $5 off if you subscribe for a year.) It’s a decidely international site, based in the US and hosting the work of more than 50 writers in more than 30 countries. Supporting one writer’s work gives you access to everyone’s, including Barry Malone (a long-time Reuters correspondent, now working for Al Jazeera) on Africa, Brian Blickenstaff on German culture and football, Benjamin Reeves on Guatemala (whose first report for the site starts “Nothing says ‘Christmas’ like a mob of impoverished children beating the crap out of Frosty the Snowman and Santa Claus”) and Mujib Mashal on Afghanistan.
Like Mr Mashal, my plan is to report on my own country, but to do so for an internationally-minded audience, both outside the UK and within it. To write about Britain on Beacon will mean stepping back to consider, for example, why it’s so difficult to build new airport runways or train lines here, why the NHS works the way it does and why Britain has such a strained relationship with the rest of Europe.
However, I only get to do this if 25 people subscribe to my articles about Britain on Beacon. Most of the money in your subscription would go to me, giving me a budget with which to write and report beyond what there’s time to do in a free blog. I plan to write weekly, and offer value for money for your monthly $5/£3, quite apart from everyone else’s work on the site.
There’s a longer description of my plans, along with a video of me and a nice cup of tea, here on Beacon – which is also where you can subscribe.
£3 a month: the price of a frothy coffee at one of our great British motorway service stations. (Or, as in the video, six months is equivalent to one go on the London Eye.) Why not give it a go?