Observatory

On The Move Again

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  London’s winter has been frosty and blazingly azure-skied this winter, and although in my flat it felt and looked like midsummer (no danger of getting SAD there), there was no snow. After a couple of days back in Tallinn, Estonia I rediscovered snow along with the charm of the people, the food, the atmosphere, […]

How Low Can You Go?

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I’m back in Tallinn, Estonia, for the weekend, where it’s currently about, oh, -15C. Tallinn’s old town is not just graceful and evocative of old paintings but f*cking cold, in a ‘bite-your-fingers-off-and-my-God-I-can’t-feel-my-face’ way. My pants are frozen. My iPhone has packed up. Everyone is in furs, although there’s a guy on the corner in shirt […]

Happy New Year!

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This year I resolve to read more novels of every kind, and to ignore all news articles featuring Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and anyone else who has sought to undermine my country. This year I resolve to be kind to people of all creeds, colours and ages, and try to see the world from their […]

Sleeping On The Job

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This week I was thinking about our working days. I’d read that UK students had voted to install sleep pods, and that in the US workers are not compensated if Christmas Day falls on a weekend. It has also been announced that the siesta, treasured central plank of Latin countries’ economic plan, is to be removed […]

Now Is The Winter Of Our…You Know

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At dinner with my neighbours last night, film director Mike Figgis told me that he reads five newspapers each morning and it’s a habit that is now taking its toll – I know what he means; between the hungry children of Aleppo and the billionaires’ club of Trump the end of this annus horribilis feels […]

Hygge 2: The Baltic Version

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As I don’t ski and I have a book to write this winter (‘Hall of Mirrors’) with another to finishing editing (‘The Book of Forgotten Authors’ comes out from Quercus next year), I fancy a break from refurbishing the flat, so we’ll be going back to beautiful Tallinn in Estonia for a few days, then […]

World Class Stupid

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It should have been a popular protest, recognised by the government and incorporated into legislation. Instead it was allowed to become law by a weak politician. It was seized upon by the ignorant and ignored, spread by fear and hatred, and allowed into positions of power the very people who would ignore the protestors. But enough […]

Evangelists: Isis On A Profit-Share

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What happened to turn freedom-loving Brazil into the world’s most dangerous place to be gay? Incredibly, 1,500 people have been murdered in anti-LGBT hate attacks over the last four years. The actual count is likely to be a lot higher because these are just the figures officially held by police. Likewise rising crime figures in Uganda, Russia, […]

We Need To Remember How Great America Can Be

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An interesting aftermath to the election result that caught everyone out; Trump is not acting as he’s meant to, and young people are complaining about notions of dropping the wall and waterboarding. Since when did the young advocate torture? In Ohio State University, young people are putting up white supremacy posters, as witnessed by my friend […]

The Trumpocalypse Begins!

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WTF. HFS. Initials don’t even cover it. The placing of a monstrous thuggish Putin ally in the White House plays right into the novelist’s hands. Especially if you’re writing satire. I’ve always thought of myself as a boring middle-class liberal who broadly thinks like the majority of my country. Suddenly I look like a persecuted […]