Observatory

America, You Did Good.

Your Father

  During the first terrifying upsurge in the AIDS crisis in 1982, two of my best friends had their lives torn apart. They had been happily living together and running their own business in Los Angeles for many years when one became ill. His furious family stole their company, ostracised their stricken son and threw […]

Nostalgia Corner: Fun Banned Stuff

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Sitting inside on a beautiful sunny day of around 28 degrees, seeing everyone from my window heading to the beach, I momentarily hate my job and set research aside to get briefly lost in internet dreams. Today’s question; do modern Youngs have more fun and would I want to be a kid now. A resounding […]

Do Creative People Have To Be Liberals?

Rick Jones

I once wrote a story about bigoted Christians, based on a fairly deranged husband and wife I knew in Los Angeles. I wrote it as an inverse of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ because now it’s too easy making the villains Satanists, so I had the threat coming from the supposedly good side. Fifteen years later I’m contemplating […]

Piccadilly Picturehouse Opens with ‘Going Clear’

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I should have taken a photograph at the first screening in Piccadilly’s brand-new arthouse cinema; there are none online yet, it’s that new. The Picturehouse manages to be almost hidden away at the moment – it’s behind the columns in the lower stub of Great Windmill Street, and contains a smart cafe, bar and a […]

Now Shopping Malls Want You To Believe They’re Good For Society

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In ‘Millennium People’ futurist author JG Ballard imagined a five-minutes-from-now world of gated communities and shopping malls where a quiet rebellion against middle-class normality is taking place. As civic responsibility and the trappings of consumer society are jettisoned, the movement grows belligerent and Ballard’s hero is lured in by the idea of revolution and terror. […]

Will You Survive Long Enough To Read This?

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The curse of any fiction writer is that people sometimes don’t believe what you write has any basis in reality. Most of my books are filled with solid research and hard facts – it’s the hardest part of writing any book, and I just removed 30 or 40 pages of factual evidence from the upcoming […]

The Home Store From Hell

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As you know I enjoy the peculiar shops of the Eastern bloc, but they aren’t the only strange sellers of tat to be found in the world, as this North African store testifies. First of all, it’s vast, and there’s nothing at all in it that any sane westerner would want in their home. Floor […]

On The Move Again

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For the next few days I’ll be posting at slightly different times than usual as I’ll be in North Africa, grabbing a few days’ R&R in Morocco, which is always  a good way to chill out (or get gastro-enteritis, depending on how late you eat in the Jemaa El Fnaa, the market place in the […]

Maternal Advice

Chris and Kath001

A few days ago my mother passed away. It had not been as unexpected as her choice of music for the funeral (‘Happy Talk’ from ‘South Pacific’ – the musicals gene being carried on my mother’s side). We’re not a very materialistic family – I have a handful of photographs and memories, some of which […]

Do Fascists Ever Think They’re Wrong?

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I took this photograph in the headquarters of the secret police in Budapest. It makes you recall the Mitchell & Webb Nazi sketch; ‘Our caps have got skulls on them. Are we the baddies?’ Don’t Fascists ever wonder if they might be on the wrong side? Dictators come in all shapes and sizes, but one thing […]