Observatory

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 […]

The Voyage Of The Lucky Dragon

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One of the joys of spending hours creeping around secondhand bookshops is the array of unknown stories that get put in your way. I was not aware of Ralph Lapp’s book about this dark episode in Japanese/US history. On Friday 22 January 1954 the Lucky Dragon set sail from a port south of Tokyo and […]

More On Overlapping Time

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In my ongoing look at overlapping time, here’s a rather lovely example. A singer who has a new album out at the moment first sang when Sigmund Romburg had a hit with The Drinking Song. Dame Vera Lynn was seven when she started, and she’s 100 now. The ‘Forces Sweetheart’ is to have her face […]

The Other American Wall

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You never forget your first American. I met mine when I was 21. They were a couple visiting London for the first time who sat in a pub with a map before them, confused by the serpentine roads. I helped them to plot a tour across London, and ended up visiting them in San Diego, […]

Forever Young: What’s Missing In The Workplace

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I make no apologies for excerpting part of a much longer article by Tom Goodwin because he voices something many feel. It’s a bit patronising but hey, he’s in advertising (‘Head of Innovation’, poor guy) and has a point to make: Living in New York and working in advertising I rarely see people over the age […]

A Letter From Barcelona

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It’s 9 am. I’m on the balcony in my dressing gown, doing my ‘tired face’. Got a cup of tea and a cuerno in my hands. Clear blue sky, empty street, but there’s something in the air. I can hear distant shouting and then – singing. Some children run past at full pelt carrying flags. […]

Guilty Pleasures

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An article in the London Times asking their writers to name their guilty pleasures prompts me to consider my own. I like to think that over time I have become entirely immune to passing trends and fashionability (which explains my T-shirts). It means that such pleasures are no longer even ‘guilty’ but pleasures, period. These […]

A January Miscelleny

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Why do all my posts need a single subject? Here are some random moments from the past month that slipped through my fingers. First, I took a walk along Regent Street on Christmas Eve – there was hardly anyone around, and little movement except the flapping of electronic angel wings. One of the nicest (and […]

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 […]