Observatory

Modern Days: All Work & All Play

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Being an occasional diary entry reporting something I’ve done or seen which may result in the inspiration to write. I needed to get out. It had not stopped raining – no, not raining, sifting – in London for a week. Sifting is what London in February does best, a blackening soaking mist of arrosage that […]

Are London’s ‘Secret’ Places Really Secret?

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When I wrote my latest London book round-up recently, I noticed that the words ‘secret’ and ‘hidden’ cropped up a lot in the titles. Fine, you won’t find St Paul’s Cathedral in these guide books, but you will find an awful lot of venues that could hardly be called ‘hidden’ or ‘secret’ or even ‘relatively […]

Things I Learned In Estonia…

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1. When to keep the kids home from school; once it officially goes below -24 degrees Centigrade. A government ruling, apparently. -23 degrees and they still have to go. While I was in Tallinn this weekend, it was mild, just -3C. Last June it snowed (admittedly for the first time in 500 years). After a […]

No Repression Of Expression

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The appalling events in Paris are still unfolding after the Islamic extremists’ attack on the staff of Charlie Hebdo magazine, but one thing is clear; around the free world a deep sense of outrage is overcoming the usual liberal breast-beating. The attitude of ‘Why did we fail these people?’ is for once notable by its […]

Eight Trends That Shot Right Past Me

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As we enter the PBTTF period of 2015 (Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?) I am already realising that certain things are happening without my knowledge. I know this will occur at a greater and greater speed, partly because I am not hanging out with The Youngs as much as I did and partly because I don’t actually […]

The Man With The X-Rayed Eyes: Update

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I’ve now been seen by my surgeon and have been referred to a specialist about my eye condition. Here’s the gruesome bit: Because I was unusually young to qualify for the surgery I had, my aqueous humor is still ‘sticky’ and thickened over my eye; it will disperse in time, but there’s no time limit […]

Do Your Worst, 2015, I Dare You

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I hope you all found suitably cheery ways to launch yourselves into the new year. We hit the chilly streets of Barcelona (where even the local vegetable store was mixing cocktails and people on street corners were selling bottles of champagne) not realising that it’s customary to wear evening dress for the occasion or at […]

On Being A Multiple

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  This is Chris Fowler. He’s not me, by the way. But he bears my name and is probably a lot smarter than I’ll ever be. This charismatic guy is a respected American sportscaster working for ESPN who happens to share my name. I have a common name. Taxi drivers make one of two jokes about […]

The Wonderful World Of Nativi-Tat

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The news this Christmas that a biblical mistranslation is responsible for the idea of Christ being born in an inn stable comes as no real surprise to me. Because I know Christ was born beside a jacuzzi, and I have proof. If you’re looking for really mind-boggling religious rubbish, head for the Catholic Mediterranean countries, […]

The Speech I Should Never Have Made

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I’m seen here having won two awards. I can’t remember what they were for, because moments after this photo was taken the plaques attached to them fell off and I couldn’t glue them back on. I don’t respect awards very much; as a juror on many panels, I know they’re at best arbitrary and at […]