Observatory

No Longer Cool? Thank God!

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In the Sunday Times this morning, a ‘nightlife entrepreneur’ (I guess he runs clubs) called Alex Proud releases a wail of anguish about how London is ruined and it’s cooler to be at the coast in places like Margate. I see he has a flat in Primrose Hill. The last time I’d read almost the […]

The Comfort Of Airports

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I’m typing this in Comptoir, the Lebanese restaurant at Gatwick airside – yes, Mr Trump, we have a cafe full of Arabs inside an English airport – shaking with fear yet? When it comes to airports, I’m on author Brigid Brophy’s page. You may remember (at least, one or two of you may) that she […]

Sexual Frankness In The North

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It always seemed a paradox to me, that the further North you travel the more sexually frank many societies become. Latin countries are largely Catholic and repressed, but once you get among the Protestants, Calvinists and Lutherans anything goes. In starting to explore the Northern nations nearest to the UK, I’ve found this true in […]

No Post Today. I’m In Oslo.

…to be more accurate, at the Oslo exhibition of Takasha Murakami’s outrageous, transgressive work (about which more tomorrow). In the meantime, does anyone know whether his Kaikai Kiki Studio anime is collected on DVD? It doesn’t appear to be on any of my internet bookmarks but I’d love to watch his strange space creatures again.

Brass Monkeys VI: Last Days

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I’m a convert. Having always loved jungles and deserts, I’m not prepared to admit another alternative; the arctic snowscape gives you a blank white canvas on which to write your dreams. This is a wilderness that needs to be captured by artists and on film before it goes. The recent shocking rise in Arctic temperatures […]

Brass Monkeys V: Pyramiden

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A few more shots of the strange, abandoned and occasional polar bear home that is Pyramiden. First, some of the film rolls no-one has checked out in the abandoned cinema… The sub-zero basketball court, left like everything else, as if the town simply vanished overnight… And the hallway, leading to communal areas where walls are […]

Brass Monkeys IV: Inside The Dream Land

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Some years ago writer Nicholas Royle edited a collection of writers’ dreams – ‘The Tiger Garden’ , and I wrote about my recurring dream, in which I enter a baroque cinema and sit down in the auditorium, but never get to see the film being played. At the abandoned mining town of Pyramiden, we reach […]

Brass Monkeys III

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The on-board instructions at the bottom of the safety pamphlet should have been a clue about what we were getting ourselves in for. I couldn’t see how merely keeping my hopes up were going to work out in water filled with ice floes. The ship was taking us north-east to the abandoned Russian mining town […]

Brass Monkeys II

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We arrived in Oslo in heavy fur coats, only to find it warmer than London. This is where we remember that the UK is further north than anyone realises or is prepared to acknowledge. We are by nature more Viking, German and Scandinavian that anything else. Oslo was full of hipsters in shorts and girls […]

Brass Monkeys

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The boiler broke down last weekend, and I remained wrapped in layers to type. I detest the damp and cold – not ideal for someone born in the Northern hemisphere. So for my trip tomorrow I think I must have gone mad. How did I ever get talked into this? My ideal holiday is a […]