Observatory

The British System Of Unreliable Measurement

Helen of Troy’s face launched a thousand ships. As a unit of measurement I find this unreliable. How many ships could a king launch? We know Nigel Farage is the face that launched a thousand lunches, so perhaps we should adopt the Farage as a measurement of failure and shallow thinking. On the rare occasions […]

Stream Of Unconsciousness

Saudi Arabia is going online with an unlicensed nuclear reactor created from private business documents in the US. Labour and Tory are uniting to destroy both their parties. Things getting a bit too crazy for you out there? You don’t know crazy. We haven’t had an update from Maggie Armitage lately, so here’s a batch of […]

Writers’ Physical Problems Solved Here

Coleridge was a druggie, Joyce and Faulkner were functioning alcoholics, Sylvia Plath was bipolar, Swift, Milton, and Emily Brontë most likely had Asperger’s, Melville and Proust were depressed, Kafka was a mess. Most jobs carry a physical cost. In London my living room overlooks the Guardian building, and I see the journalists slumped at their […]

What I Did On My Holiday

  It seems inevitable that after failing to check my calendar we should arrive on a quiet week away in the middle of Mardi Gras, and that our hotel would be at its epicentre. This is a quick look at the island of Gran Canaria from my perspective, being that of a middle-aged man who […]

London Ceremonies & Rituals

Still no pictures! In the absence of a laptop I’m at the Christopher Columbus museum in Las Palmas.  I ended up here by default; Gran Canaria has never been high on my list of places to visit, but Spanish friends told me to avoid the beaches and head for the capital, which proved to be […]

Strange Times IV: Nothing Changes

And finally… Skin colour matters. It transpired that Tanzanian albinos were living in fear of their lives because people were seeking their body parts for witchcraft. There are over 200,000 albinos in the country, and with over 30 murders in 10 months, many were frightened they would be skinned alive and partially dismembered. Meanwhile, Southern […]

Strange Times III: The Ideal News Story

So the pattern started to become clear about what makes the perfect news story. In the Daily Mail’s own words, you need to create a sense of outrage and fearfulness, but it helps if the main perpetrator is incompetent. The Czech artist David Cerny was paid £350,000 to commission artworks forming a huge sculpture of […]

Strange Times II: The New Normal

In this morning’s press, six police officers gun down a sleeping black man in his car at a Taco Bell. There should be riots on the streets over this, but it’s too frequent a news item to gain traction. In the UK knife crime has reached a high, but exclusively among ethnic street gangs, and while […]

Strange Times 1: Here’s What You Missed

This morning’s round-up of bizarre Brexit stories include the ‘Leave’ voters who live in Spain but have just changed their minds upon discovering that their pets will have no passports. One said, ‘Oh, I’m definitely voting Stay now,’ seeming to assume that the binding nature of the democratic process is not applicable to them. And […]

Season’s Greetings From Krakow

I thought that after the darkness of Auschwitz and Birkenau would come time for happier things. The tragedy at the Strasbourg Christmas market overshadowed that – I was in the same market two years ago, and what astounded then me is that it is the most secure market I’d ever visited, effectively being on a […]