Observatory

The National Health: Good & Bad

Is the NHS the envy of the world or a Kafkaesque nightmare? Everyone’s experience is different. My relationship with the organisation goes back to my birth, when I went straight into an oxygen tent, then continued with bouts of pneumonia through my childhood and into adulthood. Along the way I got to test its resources […]

Agesplaining: Far More Annoying Than Mansplaining

As I mentioned once before, here’s an image I really hate. It gets trotted out from the photo bank every time there’s a story about a ‘senior’, a ‘granny’ or anyone else over fifty. It’s not that the young feel contempt for older people but that many have no feelings at all because they haven’t […]

‘It’s All Getting A Bit French’

…So said a character in a British movie when everyone started getting aggressive. I thought of it because recently, a waiter who worked at a Vancouver restaurant was sacked for being ‘rude and disrespectful’, and has filed a complaint against his former employer, insisting his approach to the job was simply down to him being French. […]

Hello To Berlin

Despite having been there at least half a dozen times I still needed to do some prep for this trip to Berlin because it was a leisure trip. The city is so vast and sprawling that it shows many sides and you never see the same one twice, especially if you end up crossing Alexanderplatz […]

Told To Be Old

Clearly there comes a day when a team from the government comes to your home or office and holds a meeting with you via a Powerpoint presentation, wherein they explain that you’ve been reclassified as an Old. They then reveal their plan for your future, which will involve becoming invisible, being ignored, sidelined and patronised. […]

The Men Are Being Eclipsed? Fine By Me.

Women, eh? They kept their mouths shut for ooh, centuries and then suddenly they’re all over the place demanding stuff. When an empire declines, when a group feels threatened, the aggression comes out – but in these times it takes new, slyly passive-aggressive forms. Opening the papers yesterday I find a new, subtly appalled article […]

How Technology Is Killing Fiction

I love modern technology. I’m an early adopter so connected that it requires a masters’ degree in electronics to run my life and even Apple geniuses give a low whistle when I have to explain my set-up. But there’s no question that it’s damaging fiction. That’s the thesis for today. First and most obviously, it’s […]

London In A New Light

The play ‘The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time’ by Mark Haddon contained a delightful Easter egg. After the curtain came down and the audience had risen and was putting on coats, the lead actor came back on stage and delivered the speech he could not perform in the play due to his […]

Finding Light In Darkness

How do you tell the story of a disaster without being accused of cheapening a tragedy or overwhelming visitors? More and more, buildings are opening that reveal terrible histories in an intelligent new way of curating. Budapest’s House of Terror, contains exhibits related to the equally disastrous fascist and communist regimes in 20th-century Hungary and is […]

New York VS London

It’s my first trip back tp NYC is a long while. Customs has finally been sorted out, even with newly added forms, scans, questions and access that reminds you of attempting to get into an oversubscribed new restaurant. It’s not bad at all. Heathrow is overcrowded, Gatwick sometimes sends you through tunnels  and underpasses  that look […]