news from the Real Press

Get your own print from Simon Zec’s latest book!

After two bland and uneventful years, our poetry editor Simon Zec finally managed to find something interesting to write about for his second poetry collection, available here.

In the Downtime is a reaction to both the world and his personal life. Trying to find the cracks in the darkness where the light can shine through.

Simon has striven to make the book beautiful as well as thoughtful and together with two talented artists (Benita Hibbert and Rob Winterson) they have created two original artworks to go with the books.

These are available to purchase for £15 each, but we are making available the first 20 prints of both pieces as a special deal combined with the book for a special price of £28.99 (plus p&p).

The book and the prints will also be signed by the creators too.

In the Downtime is now available from here. Also available from Steyning Bookshop, and also from JE Books in Hull, on Amazon and on kindle. You can also get £3 off by buying both of his poetry books together..

Lesley Yarranton at rest, after publication of Saving Munich

Lesley Yarranton

Lesley may look like an Englishwoman in Gloucestershire – which is what she is – but she also speaks fluent German, ran her own press agency in Berlin when the wall came down, and in Saving Munich 1945, she has written, researched and chased down one of the remaining great untold stories of the Second World War.

Chronicling covid in poetry

To celebrate our resident poet, Simon Zec, joining the team as Poetry Editor we will are happy to announce the launch our first project…

Simon in various moods…

The Covid Chronicles will be a compilation of poems from a diverse selection of poets, who will donate their words and thoughts on the past few months of trials, tribulations and narratives old and new.

All of the profits will be donated to a chosen charity (to be announced soon).

We ask that your submissions are not overly long and have no offensive language. We cannot guarantee that your submission will be used and please limit your submissions to no more than two per poet.

Closing date for submissions is 2 October 2020. Please submit your poems to

We look forward to reading your words…!

Thank you

Simon Zec
Poetry Editor
The Real Press

Simon Zec is our new poetry editor…

Simon in Steyning, not actually reciting…

Simon is a poet and has two poetry collections with us (Death of the Suburb and In the Downtime (forthcoming)) and we will be working together to publish a diverse selection of poets to represent the modern poetry scene. 

We hope to dive deep into the well of modern poetry, finding abdominal working with voices that represent the modern world that we live in. Please feel free to submit a small selection of your work for us to have a look at. 

Simon is also active on Twitter at @simonzec23…

But watch this space too!

Missed opportunities – how to avoid them

Lesley Yarranton, author of Saving Munich 1945, writes…

What exactly was it that melted Germany’s ‘Iron Chancellor’ into ferrous gloop this week? Political scientists probing the wet, shapeless mass puddling around their feet have barely started to come up with answers.

Read the book – it’s a brilliant read!

No doubt alarm at estimates prediting that covid losses would shrink the Eurozone economy by up to 9 per cent this year, leaving millions facing unemployment at a time when Germany’s export-driven economy was already becoming sluggish, had something to do with it.

But Angela Merkel’s switch from years of staunch resistance to handouts and imposing merciless book-keeping on faltering economies, to suddenly lobbying for a Euro 1.8 trillion spending package, including Euro 390 billion in grants with few restrictions, can be seen as nothing less than a ‘Damascene’ conversion.

Supporters hailed the agreement as a generous gesture of trust that has now broken the taboo of EU shared debt. Detractors bemoaned the turning of the EU into a Geldautomat (cash machine). Whatever the reason, the masked crusader charged turbo-driven at dawn on Monday from behind the other 26 EU leaders to seal the deal, leaving the bleary-eyed frugalists blinking feebly in the blinding glare of her headlights.

“She understood the significance of the moment,” an insider from within her ranks said. “It was clear this could break the EU apart.”

The art of homing in with unfettered clarity on the myriad of outomes that can arise from one, often seemingly insignificant ‘decision of a moment’ – and deciding how to seize it for the best – is perhaps a politician’s most highly-prized skill. Yet since the days of the ancient Greeks, often the outcome is not clear for decades and decisions hailed as heroic at the time are, with hindsight, assessed as woeful failures as the eye-gouging despair of Sophocles’ Oedipus attests.

The nineteenth-century German philosopher and poet Friedrich Schlegel seized a ‘moment’ to declare historians to be “prophets looking backwards”, elevating historical novelists to the position of soothsayers we should all revere.

But even with hindsight, ‘seized’ and ‘missed’ moments are at the very heart of the interplay between ‘what-might-have-been’ and what actually took place in any history narrative; their outcomes are nearly always nuanced and ambiguous – rarely black and white.

This tortured ambiguity is demonstrated in my book Saving Munich 1945, the story of Rupprecht Gerngross, (a true story, published yesterday) where crucial moments are repeatedly missed, seized, recaptured and lost forever in equal, terrifying measure as events unfold. The result was hailed as “the only successful military putsch against the Third Reich” – yet it led to the loss of an estimated 200 lives.

Gerngross, a former student at the London School of Economics, was a Munich solicitor conscripted into Hitler’s army but with a secret plot to challenge the Nazis and achieve his dream of democracy and freedom and save his city (Munich) from destruction.

He seized an opportunity to secretly transform his unit of army translators into a fearsome fighting force. Then he and his conspirators miss an opportunity to save more of Germany because Claus von Stauffenberg seized an opportunity to attempt to assassinate Hitler with his briefcase in a bomb.

Gerngross’ later decision to seize the right moment to stage a coup against the Nazis in Munich using a radio station to trigger mass rebellion becomes a missed opportunity when US troops divert from their push on Munich to save the lives of dying prisoners at Dachau concentration camp.

And, for all his courage, Gerngross missed an opportunity to save more lives because he did not reckon with the possibility of betrayal, or the ferocity of SS troops sworn to fight to the death.

BBC interviewer Noel Newsome, who travelled to Germany to talk to Gerngross after the coup also found himself pondering the ‘missed opportunity’ Europe had to unite after the Second World War instead of dividing into the conflict that became the Cold War. Pondering what he described as “the haunting spectre of the might-have-been,” he wrote: “There could have been a determined effort by the victorious Allies to establish an effective world authority, with a united Europe, as one of its main supports… It was not to be.”

In the end we can never know how history will asses events and can only act in blind faith. Newsome, like Gerngross and today’s Chancellor Merkel believed simply in doing the ‘right’ thing. People will often be divided by the result, as Mark Twain pointed out, saying: “It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”

Saving Munich 1945: the story of Rupprecht Gerngross by Lesley Yarranton was published yesterday.

The strange phenomenon of Distributism and Liberal equidistance

It was excised from the party’s playlist in 1993 on the grounds that, only when the Labour Party is electable that Tory voters will feel safe enough to switch to the Lib Dems. We will see whether Paddy Ashdown was right about that next month.

But then, it may be that the situation is different these days. Equidistance between right and left could make a comeback when both Labour and Conservative parties are suddenly equally extreme.

But then, as far as the Lib Dems are concerned, there are three different kinds of equidistance.

#1. Political equidistance. This was the concept that Ashdown banned a generation ago. And you can see why. If, for example, Corbyn goes left, then the centre would move with him. This kind of equidistance arguably hands over your centrist positioning to the extremes.

#2.  Psychological equidistance. Forget about specific policies for a moment, and you can see that there are abiding psychological stances that lie behind political allegiance. For the right, there is a tendency towards cynicism. For the left, they seem generally to be angrier than everybody else. Faced with these twin perils, rage versus cynicism, it is obvious where the centre ground lies. The problem is that centrists have their own besetting sin, which is a kind of smug reliance on existing institutions. Another reason why it might be a good idea to cling to the radical centre.

#3. Distributism. There is a way to escape this particular besetting sin, which is via the Liberal ‘heresy’, Distributism – an idea based on how both capitalism and socialism tends towards slavery – was developed during the 1920s by former Liberals Hilaire Belloc and G. K.Chesterton. These days, it is the shorthand that academics use to describe the old Liberal ‘back to the land’ tendency.

I have always had an fascination with the Distributists (who had their own besetting sins), and especially now there is a new exhibition just open at the Ditchling Museum in Sussex.

In fact, I recently published two books – and my own past, present and future of Distributism (Back to the Landand Arthur Penty’s 1937 Distributism: A Manifesto. I recommend them.

The problem with equidistance is that the word implies that Liberalism is of the centre ground, some kind of midway between the rage and cynicism of right and left, when it is actually promoting a different scale altogether. About that at least, I believe, Belloc was right.

* David Boyle is policy director of the Radix thinktank, the author of Back to the Land (and other titles) and publisher at the Real Press.