Observatory

Finding Light In Darkness

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How do you tell the story of a disaster without being accused of cheapening a tragedy or overwhelming visitors? More and more, buildings are opening that reveal terrible histories in an intelligent new way of curating. Budapest’s House of Terror, contains exhibits related to the equally disastrous fascist and communist regimes in 20th-century Hungary and is […]

New York VS London

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It’s my first trip back tp NYC is a long while. Customs has finally been sorted out, even with newly added forms, scans, questions and access that reminds you of attempting to get into an oversubscribed new restaurant. It’s not bad at all. Heathrow is overcrowded, Gatwick sometimes sends you through tunnels  and underpasses  that look […]

Addicted To Travel

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For a quarter of a century I went nowhere. I worked, ate, slept and saw millions of movies. The movie-viewing was part of my job and took up all my available free time. While others had gap years,  unpaid travel leave and sabbaticals I was in Curzons, Odeons and my own full-size office cinema. My […]

Overcoming Prejudice One Contact At A Time

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At the end of this weekend I’m heading for New York on a very brief stopover. I haven’t been back in years, and for too long my main contact with the US has come from the UK and US press. Consequently, I’ve heard far too much about the extremes of American society, either the super-rich […]

Havana Laugh

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Don’t worry – the shot above is not mine; I can’t access my photo cache (or much else) from here. It’s stormy in Havana. There’s a restless buzz in the air; dogs are fighting, the rains have brought torrential waterfalls from gutters and flooding in the streets but the bands, sheltering in the corners of […]

Vacaciones!

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It’s been a hectic year. First, thanks to all the well-wishers who contacted me about my eye surgery. I’m OK, although I may not be illuminating any medieval manuscripts for a while. The timing was fortuitous, as I’m between books and need to recharge the batteries, ready to take a run at three new novels, […]

Trolls, There Are Some Things We Need To Discuss

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Dear Trolls, Yesterday the president of America introduced yet another layer of check-ups on all arriving overseas passengers, effective immediately. When I politely mentioned this on Twitter I got a tsunami of poisonous racist mail back. You called me ‘Bitch’ and told that London was in fact ‘Londonstan’. You mailed me hate-photos of British Muslims. […]

Another Skirmish In The Battle

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I sometimes think I am fated to live at the heart of terrible life-changing events, always in cities caught up in change. Never having been one for a quiet life in the country, I’ve been too close to too many epicentres for comfort, but tonight is one that stirs the heart. In Barcelona I live beside […]

Today’s Topic…

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I start at the top of the blank page and work my way down to the bottom. 1. Grumping about the Last Night of the Proms is the tip of the iceberg; humanity as a whole is irredeemably, incorrigibly misguided. We are unreliable, chaotic, annoying and deeply, deeply stupid. 2. The idea that a civilisation […]

Three Reactions To Terrorism

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It’s impossible not to comment on this today, as I have managed to be in the three main centres of terrorism most of this summer, London, Paris and Barcelona, and have seen distinct reactions to events. London’s attacks have felt like part of a long ongoing argument with dissenters that stretches back far into the […]