Observatory

The Speech I Should Never Have Made

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I’m seen here having won two awards. I can’t remember what they were for, because moments after this photo was taken the plaques attached to them fell off and I couldn’t glue them back on. I don’t respect awards very much; as a juror on many panels, I know they’re at best arbitrary and at […]

‘God Is In The Guts’

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So said Yoshinori Ishii, the chef showing us the Ikejime method of killing a fish. He paralysed it with a sharp point to the brain, and severed its spine so that its body didn’t get traumatised – the difference is visible to the naked eye; the meat looks entirely different to that of most fish, […]

And A Tale Of Old Soho…

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I briefly mentioned this in ‘Film Freak’ but was reminded of it yesterday, walking through Soho on a day when veils of grey mizzle were drifting across the empty streets, and I passed the building where it happened. It illustrates what we put up with then. It was raining hard on that day, too, when […]

Goodbye, Dan

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There will be no usual post today because I just read that Dan Terrell, longtime friend of this site, has passed away. To have someone you’ve never met write so eloquently, vividly and intelligently on so many subjects makes that person a good friend. Distance is unimportant – like minds can cross universes. Thank you, […]

Early Christmas Gifts For Yourself

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The nature of present-giving at Christmas is changing. My friends are moving out of London. Quite a few of us now go away for the extended break. The purchase and delivery of gifts is now almost an ordeal. My brother has a connection to a farm but doesn’t live nearby, and one Christmas found our […]

World Food: The Good & The Bad

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There can hardly have been two more contrasting articles about restaurants this week. As London venues continue to open at lightning speed this autumn, food critic Jay Rayner laid into the awful-sounding ‘Beast’ with a breadknife. The Russian-owned restaurant has opened in London’s West End with a bizarre concept. It just sells steak and Alaskan […]

12 Ways To Tell You’re In A Latin Country

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Heading back for rainswept Britain after a week working abroad on ideas for a new thriller, I can’t help noticing cultural differences . Latins do things their way. Some observations; 1. After stealing your phone they use the sim card to call premium-rate numbers repeatedly until the phone is blocked. This is because they really, really like […]

It’s Time We Let Americans Teach Us Politeness

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Over the last few years it’s been hard not to notice a distinct cooling of Britain’s perceived ‘special relationship’ with America. With different parties in power and discomfort over war policies, the gentle ribbing that always existed between the two birth-cousins has taken a sharper new edge; in the press and popular culture Britain and […]

The Beer And Chocolate Diet

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The medieval town of Bruges has approved plans to install an underground beer pipeline under its streets. The project has been approved by Bruges City Council and will see a 3km underground pipe connecting the five-century-old De Halve Maan brewery to a nearby bottling factory carrying 6,000 litres of beer every hour. Said to be […]

What Do You Collect?

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Writers. We’re hunter-gatherers, filling up our homes with vintage violin strings and stuffed mice. My personal poisoned chalice is books and films, and film soundtracks, of which I have millions. Really, test me, see if I have the one soundtrack you’ve been searching for forever; ‘Harold & Maude’, ‘Krakatoa East Of Java’? Got ‘em. This […]