Observatory

Letter From Europe 2: Do It Yourself

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Last week I was in a European shop when a child toppled a huge crystal statue. It exploded, badly cutting the counter girl’s leg. Mortified, the mother offered to pay. The child was upset and burst into tears. The counter girl bandaged her leg and swept up, telling the family not to worry. It was […]

Letter From Europe 1: A Room With A View

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A brief hiatus in service there while I spent the weekend pottering in the countryside. I hadn’t intended to spend it sleeping next door to Europe’s largest Battle of Waterloo model, but you know how these things turn out. Said vast model, the work of some twenty years, survives in a converted castle in Southern […]

On The Street Where You Live

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My twelfth Bryant & May book is about a young man who becomes homeless, a rough sleeper who gets caught up in a turf war of sorts. I didn’t have to go very far for research; we recently had a new rough sleeper outside our front door. Through an unfortunate set of circumstances, I ended […]

Yet More Bad Boris

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  This just in: ‘Boris Johnson’s office said that since he was elected, the number of Londoners living in areas exceeding legal limits had halved.’ It doesn’t say whether this is because he’s killed them or they’ve had to move to cleaner areas. The row is over new figures just out pointing to Oxford Street as […]

Writing Out Stereotypes

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The other day my Italian barista in London made an old joke about the lack of Indian football teams (‘If someone tells them to take a corner they open a shop on it’) and as I walked away I thought, ‘That was a bit dodgy’. Although you could argue that it was in praise of […]

So Much For Technology

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After raising my hopes with fast 4G Broadband speed decoupled from my phone’s hard line, new company Relish failed to deliver their much-touted high speed service thanks to repeated dropout and an upload speed at less than a quarter of the level they’d promised, so the box went back. I love technology, but it’s only […]

Crazy Ladies

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The postwar years were a golden time for the suspense thriller, climaxing in ‘Psycho’. There was also a slew of wonderful novels from American women, many of whom I’ve discussed in my ‘Invisible Ink’ column. A number of Hammer thrillers with titles like ‘Scream of Fear’ and ‘Nightmare’ were produced, mostly shot around the familiar […]

Cataloguing Is My Life

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Men like order. Not in an attractive, tasteful way, but in a ‘That badly needs to be alphabetised’ unhealthy way. A female friend was appalled when I told her I spent the afternoon re-cataloguing my DVD collection, and couldn’t decide whether auteur directors deserved to be filed by surnames or by their films. For a […]

Let’s Go Out, Darling!

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I promise this is positively the last bonkers UKIP story of the year… Apparently I was wrong. UKIP do have another key plank to their manifesto, apart from ‘Aren’t foreigners ghastly?’ In their 2010 manifesto edition they felt it should be made compulsory for people to wear evening dress to the theatre. The Daily Telegraph’s […]

Shopped No.2

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Watching everyone board a very late plane the other night, I noticed that about one in five people had untied laces, but they were too laden with luggage and kids to be able to do anything about it. While we’re waiting for Nike to develop self-lacing trainers like the ones in ‘Back To The Future […]