Observatory

Med And Alive

On the Cote D’Azur, Marseille was always the odd destination out. France’s second city is the sunniest, driest coastal area thanks to both the Mistral and the Sirocco. It’s a complex port town with a working class multi-ethnic population, hard to traverse, confusingly filled with hilly streets and back alleys. Founded in 600 BC, it […]

Med And Buried

  The Mediterranean gets a bad rap from the British these days; too expensive, too crowded, no longer the playground of the those rich young playthings about whom Noel Coward wrote ‘Mentally congealed lilies of the field, they lie in flock along the rocks because they have to get a tan.’ Before then, nobody tanned […]

Are We There Yet?

No. And we’re not going to be, either. Sometimes don’t you catch yourself thinking ‘If only I could suffer all the pain of airports without having to go through the boring holiday bit in between’? Well, I just did. Yesterday morning I set off for Marseilles from London. Eight hours later I was still in […]

‘Overtourist’ Is Now A Verb

Above shows a serene Tokyo photograph, but it’s the top half only – I’ve divided it into two. For the other half, see the bottom of the article. There have been some fascinating press pieces this month on a global problem that has been building for many years. Even in the times of the Grand […]

Was Blade Runner Right All Along?

I grew up with a very fixed idea of what the future looked like, architecturally speaking. Off-world it would be ‘2001’, at home it would be ‘The Jetsons’. What I failed to appreciate was that the future would not eradicate the past and be less ‘Tomorrowland’, more ‘Blade Runner’. I’d seen something similar in the […]

From Mice To Penguins

As 92 year-old David Attenborough launches his namesake polar ship, popularly known as ‘Boaty McBoatface’, I’m reminded that planet management never gets easier. On the island of Macquarie, between Australia and Antarctica, problems started soon after it was discovered in 1810. The island’s fur seals, elephant seals and penguins were killed for fur and blubber, but […]

Going Where The Sun Shines Brightly…

…although I might as well stay in London, which has started to resemble the ending of ‘The Day the Earth Caught Fire’. It’s well worth watching that film again, BTW, it’s barely SF at all, more about the workings of old Fleet Street, because it was written by a newspaperman. I once met the film’s […]

Books VS Football: An Outsiders’ View

Above the city you could hear the roar; I couldn’t help but hear England’s win against Colombia. There were crowds outside pubs and opposite me even the supposedly sophisticated cocktail bar had lugged a screen onto its terrace. It was as if the whole city was watching the football on this hot summer night. I wasn’t. […]

What’s Your Favourite Spot?

  If you’ve ever been hypnotised, you’ll know that one of the first things you’re asked is to think of your favourite spot. Familiarity is calming. Favourite places change, I suspect, throughout your life. As a child mine was a small daisy-covered green patch behind my infants’ school where we were allowed to read on […]

What’s The Most Annoying Tech?

Remington, Brother, Wordstar, Betamax, 8-Track, cassettes, for god’s sake – I feel as if I’ve been through the technological mill, and you probably do too…but good technology changes us daily. This morning I answered my door to a tradesman via my mobile from a different country. Last night I turned down the heat in my […]