Observatory

Was Blade Runner Right All Along?

I grew up with a very fixed idea of what the future looked like, architecturally speaking. Off-world it would be ‘2001’, at home it would be ‘The Jetsons’. What I failed to appreciate was that the future would not eradicate the past and be less ‘Tomorrowland’, more ‘Blade Runner’. I’d seen something similar in the […]

From Mice To Penguins

As 92 year-old David Attenborough launches his namesake polar ship, popularly known as ‘Boaty McBoatface’, I’m reminded that planet management never gets easier. On the island of Macquarie, between Australia and Antarctica, problems started soon after it was discovered in 1810. The island’s fur seals, elephant seals and penguins were killed for fur and blubber, but […]

Going Where The Sun Shines Brightly…

…although I might as well stay in London, which has started to resemble the ending of ‘The Day the Earth Caught Fire’. It’s well worth watching that film again, BTW, it’s barely SF at all, more about the workings of old Fleet Street, because it was written by a newspaperman. I once met the film’s […]

Books VS Football: An Outsiders’ View

Above the city you could hear the roar; I couldn’t help but hear England’s win against Colombia. There were crowds outside pubs and opposite me even the supposedly sophisticated cocktail bar had lugged a screen onto its terrace. It was as if the whole city was watching the football on this hot summer night. I wasn’t. […]

What’s Your Favourite Spot?

  If you’ve ever been hypnotised, you’ll know that one of the first things you’re asked is to think of your favourite spot. Familiarity is calming. Favourite places change, I suspect, throughout your life. As a child mine was a small daisy-covered green patch behind my infants’ school where we were allowed to read on […]

What’s The Most Annoying Tech?

Remington, Brother, Wordstar, Betamax, 8-Track, cassettes, for god’s sake – I feel as if I’ve been through the technological mill, and you probably do too…but good technology changes us daily. This morning I answered my door to a tradesman via my mobile from a different country. Last night I turned down the heat in my […]

Maggie’s Mind Lint 4

Time for another dip into the bran-tub of Maggie’s mind. This brings us up to date. For those of you who haven’t been following this, the eponymous white witch from my Bryant & May books is very much a real person and sends me immense texts that reveal the threshing machine of her thought processes. […]

Why I’d Have Preferred A Southern European Childhood

1 Railway station destination boards have half a dozen countries on them. 2 Facial hair at 14 (Spain, Greece and Italy only). 3 Can sit outside for more than 20 minutes without having to go and dry off. 4 Emotional freedom; gesticulation, sweary gestures, shouting, slapping, kissing, public hugging, random protests, losing temper, generally being […]

Maggie’s Mind Lint 3

It’s been a while since we dipped back into the unhinged world of my dear friend Maggie Armitage and the stream of unconsciousness texts she sends me on a daily basis. Some of these are insightful. Some are simply as mad as an old man’s trousers. Maggie definitely invented the selfie years before anyone else […]

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 […]