Monthly Archives: July 2014

Re:View – ‘Hannah Arendt’

How do you make the act of thinking exciting without relying on ‘Sherlock’-style graphics? That’s one of the questions this film has to handle. ‘The banality of evil’ was a phrase created by Hannah Arendt as she tried to come to terms with the crimes of Adolph Eichmann. Margarethe Von Trotta’s morally complex film covers […]

Towering Infernal

When architects want to hide the fact that they’re about to do something really awful, they hide their plans by showing you a rendering that makes all the buildings appear to be white. The nonsense above with its pretty little square and a handful of people strolling in the sun is the latest plan for […]

The London Jacks

From the Victorian era until after WWII, the London Jacks were a popular sight in railway stations. They were charity collection dogs, and continued working even after they’d died. ‘Though dead, Jack is still on duty and solicits a continuance of your contributions in support of his good work for the Orphans’ reads the plaque […]

Backstories To The Bryant & May Books No.2

Seventy Seven Clocks Arthur Bryant, writing his memoirs, recalls a case from 1973. As strikes and blackouts ravage the country a rare painting is vandalised in the National Gallery, and members of a high-born family are killed in a variety of lunatic ways – by tiger, bomb and barber. As the hours of daylight diminish […]

Will Boris Make The Mount Unpleasant?

Mount Pleasant has always been the most misnamed place in London. From the 16th to the 19th century it was home to a massive rubbish dump which was finally cleared in 1794 for a grim brick prison, the notorious Coldbath Fields Prison, where inmates were forced to turn treadmills and pick oakum beside the Fleet sewers. It […]

Best & Worst New Apps

The best new app I’ve discovered in ages is still in its infancy, but everyone I’ve shown it to wants it. WordLens is free. You hold your phone over anything from a menu to a road sign and it’s instantly translated into your language on-screen, like something out of Star Trek. At the moment there […]

What Did We Learn From Out Of The Blue’s Single?

When a cappella Oxford students (and er, ‘friends’) band ‘Out Of The Blue’ decided to record Shakira’s ‘Hips Don’t Lie’ as a single and a video what did we discover? 1. Shakira’s speech at Oxford four years ago really left its mark. 2. They’ve watched way too many box-sets of ‘Glee’ since. 3. They really […]

Letter From Europe 2: Do It Yourself

Last week I was in a European shop when a child toppled a huge crystal statue. It exploded, badly cutting the counter girl’s leg. Mortified, the mother offered to pay. The child was upset and burst into tears. The counter girl bandaged her leg and swept up, telling the family not to worry. It was […]

Born To Be Surreal

I’ve just visited the so-called ‘Dali Triangle’, including his wife’s castle-home in Pubol and his monument to surrealism in Figueres, and it has changed my opinion of the artist. Many wrote off Salvador Dali because of his unabashed commercialism, his bad-boy antics and his clown-prince behaviour. It’s an easy mistake to make, but a mistake […]

Letter From Europe 1: A Room With A View

A brief hiatus in service there while I spent the weekend pottering in the countryside. I hadn’t intended to spend it sleeping next door to Europe’s largest Battle of Waterloo model, but you know how these things turn out. Said vast model, the work of some twenty years, survives in a converted castle in Southern […]