Observatory

A Message To Millennials

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According to a series of major US surveys, teens are increasingly swearing off alcohol, cigarettes, dope and prescription painkillers. Millennials are taking their cues from their Baby Boomer folks, those born between 1946 and 1964 who are veterans of the sexual and psychedelic revolutions of the 1960s and 70s. Apparently this is to do with the new […]

Why Does Wealth Work Against Creativity?

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Latvia is not a rich country. When the city of Riga needed to move its books from the old library to the new one, on the other side of its central river, the Daugava, it came up with a novel idea. The city’s residents formed a human chain over the bridge from one library to […]

Why A Tie?

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Watching the trailer for ‘Rogue One’, the Star Wars prequel, you can’t help but be struck by the way it hits this decade’s most popular trope – the rebel girl. ‘On your own from the age of 15,’ says the commander, ‘reckless, aggressive and undisciplined,’ as if these are adequate job qualifications. ‘I rebel,’ says […]

We’re All Going On A…

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…or are we? Going Where The Sun Shines Brightly?* Londoners traditionally holiday abroad, as they don’t care to wander around Bexhill-On-Sea going ‘I can’t believe they still don’t have olive focaccia’, although a few do tiptoe off into the countryside where locals make fun of them and hotels rip them off by charging for two-night […]

Livin’ La Vida Folle

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Language – so long as you get the gist of it, that’s OK. And now that Farridge, Johnson & Gove have joined Lord Haw-Haw, Vidkun Quisling and Abu Hamza in the list of most hated males, I’m walking around London realising that almost everyone who touches my life is from somewhere else. My barber is […]

Peculiar Crimes 1

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A new semi-regular feature that reports the really odd stories you may have missed, but which may inspire ideas for fictional stories… In 1986, charity organisation United Way of Cleveland arranged a spectacular stunt for fundraising publicity: an attempt to set a new world record for simultaneously released balloons. On Public Square, a structure as large […]

Raymond Kirkpatrick Takes A Summer Holiday

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Raymond Kirkpatrick is a colleague of Arthur Bryant’s. The bear-like heavy metal-loving Professor of English is currently working at the British Library and is our occasional guest speaker. His opinions are extremely  his own. Day One. I thought as there’s usually not much going on around now I’d take a week off and head for Southern […]

The Age Of Idiocracy: A Brief Guide

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It now looks entirely possible that we may have a future with President Trump building walls around his country while Prime Minister Boris Johnson half-finishes corporate monuments and Nigel Farage’s police check under beds for black people. The pound is plunging. The Brexit camp is racing ahead. Gove, Farage & Johnson say they want to […]

A Writer’s Life: In Flux

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You’ll notice that there are fewer London articles and film reviews on the site at the moment. There’s a simple reason for this. While my flat is being renovated I’m living in a small converted light industrial unit, and had to store my thousand+ London books in a barn in Suffolk, then ferry between the […]

Places That Should Be Used In SF Movies

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I’m back in London after completing another trip to dig out research material for a book, although some of what I found may never be used. Take my visit to Science City in Valencia. The complex was only recently finished, but has been dogged with scandal throughout its construction. It has sadly become a symbol […]