Observatory

Fowler’s Miscellany

Things that should not bother me but do.   It’s probably not bad grammar, especially from the Washington Post, and I hugely admire Americans for taking welcome shortcuts through language, but in my head this reads ‘lose even more badly’. Sorry. I’ve managed to adapt to ‘train station’ instead of ‘railway station’ and even ‘bored […]

Back Open For Business

You never know if it’s real or a robot, do you? I’ve been out of the country for the past week, and as this happened at short notice I wrote a couple of articles in advance. But I didn’t pack my laptop. I hadn’t expected to end up chasing turtles off the coast of West […]

An Apology

I’d like to apologise for the extreme boringness of yesterday’s entry on BFI Film Guides. It was only one stop above The History of the Apostle Spoon. I had just returned from Kent and was overcome with fatigue, so I wrote about the nearest things to hand without thinking that they might proved staggeringly dull […]

How Not To Spend It

  This is the death-knell of the department store. (Above; the guest who did not tip) This is the year that turned into my own personal annus horribilis. But here’s something interesting: Our self-isolating future may bring an end to less fulfilling jobs. The service industry is the most obvious game changer. Over the last week […]

What Will Happen Next?

Who knew that cutting hair was so easy? What will happen next? Plague of frogs. Death of the first born. A third Dr Phibes film. You name it, lockdown’s ending, we’re off-road and anything can happen now. Beach chairs are selling out in Siberia. The virus-denying Brazilian president is sick, and the rest of the […]

Nurse! The Screens!

This column is going to be like the comments section; all over the place. But it probably reflects my fractured mindset at the moment. Morphine, I thought, having instant thoughts of Sax Rohmer and Anna May Wong, does it have a place in the modern medicine cabinet? I checked the bottle. A liquid with a […]

Ouch!

I used to be quite good friends with Clive Barker. The next time I see him, remind me to kick his teeth down his throat. Clive knew quite a bit about pain. He wrote about it in the most visceral, extraordinary way, as if no-one had ever written about it before, as a living thing, […]

The Lockdown Diaries: It’s The Final Lockdown

Wellness is a right, not a privilege. This is the last post covering my fairly unusual journey of the last ten weeks. I’ve reached the so-called 3 day pain peak of my cancer in a time of pandemic (uncomfortable and exhausting but not without moments of hilarity). After the weekend I’ll emerge having learned a few […]

The Lockdown Diaries 15: Baked Beans At Dawn

So there was that. Yuk. Do me a favour, don’t get any kind of cancer, especially this one, it’s really horrible. I’m here, though, now managing the healing process. I just had my first FEB (Full English Breakfast) in three months (right, minus sausage).  I’ve broken the law every day since Lockdown began on March […]

The Lockdown Diaries 14: The Rock & The Hard Place

When you go to hospital you fantasise that it will look like this. A cross between ‘2001’ and ‘Gattacca’. This was the view in my hospital at 9:00am today. A cross between an Alan Bennett play and Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’. It has no external windows (because of radiation). The suites have the unlikely names […]