Clifford Thurlow

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(journalist, writer, blogger)
Clifford Thurlow.jpg

Clifford Thurlow (born 1952, in London, England) trained as a journalist after failing to get a place at Cambridge and wrote his first book at the age of 23. He has been described by Penny Wark of The Times as "one of the UK's best ghostwriters."

Clifford Thurlow worked as the English editor of the Athens News under Yannis Horn during the last years of the Regime of the Colonels (1967–1974); he was 'asked' to leave the country when he reported on the anti-Junta speech given at the University by German author Günter Grass, who was held briefly under house arrest.

Rather than returning to the UK, Thurlow moved to India where he studied Buddhism in Dharamshala and worked with the Dalai Lama as one of a team translating Tibetan sacred texts into English. He traded gemstones in South East Asia and ran a travelling dolphin show in Spain before moving to Hollywood, where he penned Carol White's autobiography "Carol Comes Home".

Recent books

Thurlow is noted for creating memoirs in the style of a novel. Recent books are "Fatwa: Living With A Death Threat" (Hodder & Stoughton, 2005), which describes the flight of Jacky Trevane across the desert with two children to escape an abusive husband; "Today I'm Alice" (Sidgwick & Jackson, 2009) the story of Multiple Personality Disorder survivor Alice Jamieson, a Sunday Times Top Ten best-seller; and two books set in Iraq with former infantry captain turned mercenary James Ashcroft, "Escape From Baghdad" (Virgin, 2009), the rescue of Ashcroft's former Iraqi interpreter and his family from Shia Death Squads; and "Making A Killing" (Virgin, 2006) – on which Andy Martin wrote in the Daily Telegraph:

"Ashcroft must have formed a good working alliance with ghostwriter Clifford Thurlow, because this diary of death and destruction radiates not just personality but that elusive, lyrical honesty the existentialists used to call authenticity."

Thurlow's "Runaway" (Simon & Schuster, 2013), Emily Mackenzie's story of life as a child prostitute in London's Soho in the early 1970s, spent five weeks in the Sunday Times Top Ten best-seller lists. Published in the wake of the Jimmy Savile child abuse scandal, "Runaway" was seen as having made an important contribution to the debate on the deficiencies of Britain's child care system.

In 2011, Thurlow became a director of, a publishing house dedicated to "edgy, daring and radical new writing". First digital/print-on-demand publications include Kindle best-selling trilogy "The Killer 1,2 & 3", by Jack Elgos, Thurlow's novel "Cocaine Confidence" and David Pick's "Mrs May: A PsychoSexual Odyssey".


1992 interview with co-author Iris Gioia
  • 2021 - Typhoon: The Inside Story of an RAF Fighter Squadron at War, Wing Commander Mike Sutton leads 1 (Fighter) Squadron on 300 deadly missions against ISIS.
  • 2019 - Operation Jihadi Bride, John Carney's mission to rescue disillusioned jihadi brides from Islamic State.
  • 2018 – Gigolo, true life story of how working-class Ben Foster becomes a gigolo to the super-rich
  • 2013 – Making Short Films, The Complete Guide From Script to Screen, Bloomsbury Academic; 3rd edition
  • 2013 – Runaway, Emily Mackenzie's life as a teenage prostitute
  • 2013 – Cool, Sexy & Dead, anthology of short-stories
  • 2012 – Cocaine Confidence, novel, the Balkan drug wars move to London
  • 2011 – The Second Rule, novel exploring love, loss and early success.
  • 2009 – Escape From Baghdad, James Ashcroft rescues his Iraqi interpreter from death squads in Iraq
  • 2009 – Today I'm Alice, the story of multiple personality disorder sufferer Alice Jamieson
  • 2006 – Making A Killing, the story of Captain James Ashcroft
  • 2004 – Fatwa: Living With A Death Threat, the story of Jacky Trevane
  • 2003 – The Carol White Story
  • 2000 – Sex, Surrealism, Dali and Me, the story of Carlos Lozano's life as an "Ambassador" for the surrealist painter Salvador Dalí.
  • 1992 – Brief Spring: A Journey Through Eastern Europe, co-written with Iris Gioia
  • 1987 – Never Before Noon, the story of Afdera Fonda
  • 1982 – Carol Comes Home, the story of British actress Carol White

Tradable commodities

On 24 October 2021, Clifford Thurlow posted an article entitled "Cutting Down the Trees and Capitalism" on his blog:

The earliest form of modern capitalism began in 1420 when Portuguese settlers arrived on the island of Madeira in their tall galleons and began cutting down the trees.

Spread out before them was a sub-tropical forest with rare species of animals. But what they saw wasn’t an island paradise. They saw an opportunity. They saw a commodity.

Madeira (the Portuguese word for wood) is the largest of four islands in an archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa. The first settlers staked their claim in the name of the Portuguese Crown. This provided a form of legitimacy that enabled them to raise funds from banks in Genoa and Flanders. They transported slaves from Africa and cleared the trees to plant sugar.

With free land and virtually free labour, the first phase of the enterprise was a capitalist dream come true. The banks were repaid with handsome profits and, by 1470, Madeira was the world’s biggest sugar producer.

It requires 60kg of wood to refine 1kg of sugar. After cutting down the trees close to the coast, the slaves trusted with axes had to move inland and up mountains to access fuel. More slaves were needed to produce the same amount of sugar, cutting the profits.

In another twenty years, most of the madeira in Madeira had been felled. The Portuguese businessmen abandoned their slaves on the denuded island and shifted their capital to new colonies in Brazil and the Caribbean.

Writer George Monbiot argues that the Portuguese on Madeira had created a system that differed from anything that had gone before and given birth to our present system of capitalism. ‘They had developed an economy in which land, labour and money lost their previous meaning and became tradable commodities,’ he wrote in The Guardian on 6 October 2021.[1]

As Monbiot says, this was not the unacceptable face of capitalism, as politicians like to say. ‘It is the face of capitalism.’

Cutting Down the Trees to Plant Statues

Cutting down the trees and financial – as well as ecological – ruin go together. When Europeans first landed on what would become known as Easter Island in 1722, there wasn’t a single tree to be seen. Although, it became apparent that the island had once been a luxuriant quilt of forest and foliage.

The islanders had begun cutting down the trees to use the trunks to roll the giant statues called Moai across the island from the stone quarries to the sea. They hauled the effigies upright and placed them in melancholic rows on the coast as if waiting for ships to come. Or, perhaps, the return of alien spacecraft, as Erich von Däniken speculated in his book "Chariots of the Gods".

The islanders used the wood to build canoes, cook food and cremate their dead. They slashed through the forest as if the resource was infinite and kept cutting down the trees until none were left. Why one of the elders didn’t mention this and hang on to the last few trees, plant again, start again, is impossible to speculate. It’s what humans do.

When the last of the canoes were lost at sea, they were unable to fish. Most of the population starved to death. The appearance of explorers and botanists on this remote speck of Polynesian rock that Easter Sunday in 1722 was one of the few occasions in history when it was beneficial to the indigenous people. The Gods in the shape of the Moai had answered their prayers and the surviving islanders converted to Christianity.

Fishy Business in Cadaqués

Cutting down the trees on Easter Island was, during the same period, mirrored in the Catalan village of Cadaqués.

When the abbot of the monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes decided to build a stronghold in the uninhabited bay known as Cap de Quers in 945, the hills were carpeted in cork oaks, cypresses, red and white pine, horse chestnut and maple.

The masons who had built the monastery came to build the fortress – essential in the everlasting battle against the pirates who plied their trade along the coast. When they had completed their work, they named their village Cadaqués. The masons became fishermen and developed a unique style of fishing.

They discovered that many species of fish were attracted by the light. They anchored their small boats called boliches in the numerous inlets at nightfall and lit a brazier raised on a pole above the boat’s stern.

The refulgent glow drew the fish into the cove where they remained, mesmerised by the dancing light of the flames. As the moon waned, the crewmen stretched a net across the bay. Lead weights made from old cannon shot held the net on the seabed and cork floats fashioned locally from the oak trees kept the top level on the surface.

Rather than haul the fish on board the boliches the traditional way, the men at daybreak dragged their nets on to the pebble beaches where they erupted in explosions of shiny silver fish.

The people of Cadaqués needed fuel for the braziers and fuel for their home fires. Line after line of trees were logged until the hillsides were bare. The woodcutters had to go deeper into the forests, clearing the landscape of its cloak of green and driving the bears, boar, wolves and deer deeper inland.

When trees are treated as a commodity, cutting them down is good for business. When people are a commodity, enslaving them, exploiting them and underpaying them is good for business. When everything is a commodity, the landscape grows barren, and the earth turns to dust.

God Save the Trees.[2]


Documents by Clifford Thurlow

TitleDocument typePublication dateSubject(s)Description
Document:Boris Johnson is Unfit for National Officeblog post13 December 2021Michael Gove
Grant Shapps
Boris Johnson
Priti Patel
Jacob Rees-Mogg
Dominic Raab
Johnson has been astute with the people he has gathered about him in the Cabinet. They are greedy and self-serving. They will never Level Up. They will continue to leech money from the NHS, underfund schools and keep hungry people queuing up outside food banks.
Document:Margaret Thatcher Ruined Britainblog post30 December 2021Margaret Thatcher
John Major
Theresa May
David Cameron
Boris Johnson
Liz Truss
Margaret Thatcher ruined Britain with her hard-right policies and the five Conservative prime ministers, since her party knifed her in the back the Tory way, have carelessly kicked over the remains. Each has been worse than the last in descending order – John Major, David Cameron, Theresa May, liar Boris Johnson and finally Liz Truss, a puppet with a wooden heart and personal photographer.
Document:Message for the Red Wallblog post12 April 2022Boris Johnson
Vote Leave
UK/General election/2019
Red Wall
"This is my message for the Red Wall. If you reach a crossroads and your destination is to the left and by mistake you turn right, the further you travel along the wrong road the further you will move away from your destination. It is not easy to turn back, to change your mind. Sometimes, you have to in order to survive."
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