Observatory

Cadiz Diary

I’m back in London, which feels hotter than Cadiz thanks to high humidity. The big surprise was finding Africa’s closest neighbour pleasantly warm by day and cold at night. The streets are striated by cross-breezes that also allow for spectacular light effects, especially when it starts to get dark at 10pm. My US friends struggled […]

It Was A Hoot

We decided to stay on a few days in Cadiz; it was cooler than London or Paris (which is apparently hotter than Death Valley). So, straight into the Sixth Extinction with Trump, Johnson and the rest of the deranged madmen now running the world. Next year, 60 other Indian cities follow Chennai into a waterless […]

Stranger In The South

My former agent lived in a small town called Gaucin in Southern Spain, and from her window you could see the coast, the rock of Gibraltar and beyond to Africa (she’s in my short story ‘The Caterpillar Flag’). I’ve arrived in the ‘island’ town of Cadiz, a place I’ve visited a couple of times before […]

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 […]