Observatory

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 […]

The New Fear Is All Around

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Yesterday morning I boarded an Easyjet flight in Barcelona, packed because it’s a long weekend there, and two well-spoken smart Millennials sat beside me. We were taxiing out to the runway when one of them got out of his seat and asked to see a crew member. He then insisted on getting off without saying […]

The Future? Is That It Then?

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In 1967 I read a magazine listing the top things consumers wanted right now, not in the future. They included flat TV screens and legalised marijuana. Well, those things came, just fifty years later. Today I opened my paper (I’m using that term metaphorically. I hit a Google tab) and found myself looking at a Victorian […]

Discovering Rituals & Ceremonies

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The Pahlevani and Zoorkhanei rituals in Iran are a peculiar mixture of weight-lifting, dancing, gymnastics and music which have been around for 2,000 years, and now it’s possible for outsiders to experience them. Iran is opening up to travel (although it’s a massive country and there are no internal flights due to a lack of […]

The Collectors

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That’s it for me; it’s the end of summer and I’m returning to the UK this weekend with two new stand-alone novels and a non-fiction book under my belt. It’s been a great period of intensely hard work. Having finished, I was strolling about yesterday and thinking about the strange habits of collectors when I […]

The Other Arthur Bryants

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Over two decades ago I invented a pair of detectives, Arthur Bryant and John May. But it turned out, to my surprise, that Arthur Bryant already existed. This namesake came to light because a reader pointed out the similarity, but when I discovered that Sir Arthur Wynn Morgan Bryant also spoke at my alma mater, […]

The (Un)Fashionable Author

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I’ve always been a bit of a clothes-horse; at a time when most authors were exploring the world of corduroy I was wearing Dirk Bikkenberg. It helps that I’m a boring off-the-peg size and usually find the fit I want. It becomes particularly hard for older men to find anything that doesn’t make them look […]