Observatory

Saw Naples, Didn’t Die

Heading home, crazy week ahead, so if you’re thinking of visiting Naples these are my bullet-point observations. Go if you want to get the sights and smells of a rough working port that feels like a mash-up of Marseilles, Havana and Istanbul. Visit the National Archeological Museum and the Modern Art gallery. Visit Herculaneum over […]

See Naples Without Dying

The Easter break arrived in time for a cheeky trip to Naples. I’d not been, it’s not far away and it’s weekend friendly. Cultural overload, I imagined, too much to see in a short break. Except that it’s now Saturday and I haven’t even started, because Naples misled me; instead of hitting the National Architectural […]

My Mother’s Puzzle

My mother loved puzzles of every kind. As children we were encouraged to investigate clues and understand paradoxes, and the house was covered in puzzle books. She could crack most cryptic crossword puzzles in minutes and often wrote shopping notes in code, a mixture of Pitman shorthand and her own weird abbreviations. This love of […]

The British System Of Unreliable Measurement

Helen of Troy’s face launched a thousand ships. As a unit of measurement I find this unreliable. How many ships could a king launch? We know Nigel Farage is the face that launched a thousand lunches, so perhaps we should adopt the Farage as a measurement of failure and shallow thinking. On the rare occasions […]

Stream Of Unconsciousness

Saudi Arabia is going online with an unlicensed nuclear reactor created from private business documents in the US. Labour and Tory are uniting to destroy both their parties. Things getting a bit too crazy for you out there? You don’t know crazy. We haven’t had an update from Maggie Armitage lately, so here’s a batch of […]

Writers’ Physical Problems Solved Here

Coleridge was a druggie, Joyce and Faulkner were functioning alcoholics, Sylvia Plath was bipolar, Swift, Milton, and Emily Brontë most likely had Asperger’s, Melville and Proust were depressed, Kafka was a mess. Most jobs carry a physical cost. In London my living room overlooks the Guardian building, and I see the journalists slumped at their […]

What I Did On My Holiday

  It seems inevitable that after failing to check my calendar we should arrive on a quiet week away in the middle of Mardi Gras, and that our hotel would be at its epicentre. This is a quick look at the island of Gran Canaria from my perspective, being that of a middle-aged man who […]

London Ceremonies & Rituals

Still no pictures! In the absence of a laptop I’m at the Christopher Columbus museum in Las Palmas.  I ended up here by default; Gran Canaria has never been high on my list of places to visit, but Spanish friends told me to avoid the beaches and head for the capital, which proved to be […]

Strange Times IV: Nothing Changes

And finally… Skin colour matters. It transpired that Tanzanian albinos were living in fear of their lives because people were seeking their body parts for witchcraft. There are over 200,000 albinos in the country, and with over 30 murders in 10 months, many were frightened they would be skinned alive and partially dismembered. Meanwhile, Southern […]

Strange Times III: The Ideal News Story

So the pattern started to become clear about what makes the perfect news story. In the Daily Mail’s own words, you need to create a sense of outrage and fearfulness, but it helps if the main perpetrator is incompetent. The Czech artist David Cerny was paid £350,000 to commission artworks forming a huge sculpture of […]