Observatory

Yet More Bad Boris

Boris Johnson

  This just in: ‘Boris Johnson’s office said that since he was elected, the number of Londoners living in areas exceeding legal limits had halved.’ It doesn’t say whether this is because he’s killed them or they’ve had to move to cleaner areas. The row is over new figures just out pointing to Oxford Street as […]

Writing Out Stereotypes

National-Stereotypes

The other day my Italian barista in London made an old joke about the lack of Indian football teams (‘If someone tells them to take a corner they open a shop on it’) and as I walked away I thought, ‘That was a bit dodgy’. Although you could argue that it was in praise of […]

So Much For Technology

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After raising my hopes with fast 4G Broadband speed decoupled from my phone’s hard line, new company Relish failed to deliver their much-touted high speed service thanks to repeated dropout and an upload speed at less than a quarter of the level they’d promised, so the box went back. I love technology, but it’s only […]

Crazy Ladies

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The postwar years were a golden time for the suspense thriller, climaxing in ‘Psycho’. There was also a slew of wonderful novels from American women, many of whom I’ve discussed in my ‘Invisible Ink’ column. A number of Hammer thrillers with titles like ‘Scream of Fear’ and ‘Nightmare’ were produced, mostly shot around the familiar […]

Cataloguing Is My Life

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Men like order. Not in an attractive, tasteful way, but in a ‘That badly needs to be alphabetised’ unhealthy way. A female friend was appalled when I told her I spent the afternoon re-cataloguing my DVD collection, and couldn’t decide whether auteur directors deserved to be filed by surnames or by their films. For a […]

Let’s Go Out, Darling!

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I promise this is positively the last bonkers UKIP story of the year… Apparently I was wrong. UKIP do have another key plank to their manifesto, apart from ‘Aren’t foreigners ghastly?’ In their 2010 manifesto edition they felt it should be made compulsory for people to wear evening dress to the theatre. The Daily Telegraph’s […]

Shopped No.2

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Watching everyone board a very late plane the other night, I noticed that about one in five people had untied laces, but they were too laden with luggage and kids to be able to do anything about it. While we’re waiting for Nike to develop self-lacing trainers like the ones in ‘Back To The Future […]

Shopped No.1

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The other day a friend asked what he should bring back from London for his girlfriend. When I think of London gifts – which frankly isn’t often – I see those horrible phone box/beefeater teddy bear shops selling tat to tourists, so here’s an occasional column for when I see something unique and possibly worth […]

Look Who’s Stalking

Data

Recently I needed to learn how to make a bomb for research in a book I was writing which has a terrorist theme. I’ve done this before, but back then there was no online tracking. When I did it this time I really upset my online footprint. I’ve described how to make a bomb before […]

My Favourite Big Stores

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I judge my favourite stores by the likelihood of me going in there and coming out with something I hadn’t intended to buy. From that point of view, Selfridges and London’s flagship bookstore Foyles are impossible to beat, because there’ll always be something you didn’t know you needed. As a child, Hamley’s toy store, with […]