Observatory

When Sites Go Rogue

My post yesterday about the desirability of US football shirts as perfect gear to write in seems to have vanished on the site along with all its attached comments – I’m having a few small teething problems with the new layout. I read every comment posted, though, and hopefully it won’t happen again.

The Creative Dilemma

Samuel Beckett was once asked what he had given up for his art. He replied; ‘I have fairly often not gone to parties.’ EM Forster was asked why his output of novels hadn’t been greater and he replied; ‘I would have written more if I hadn’t gone out so much.’ Watching the movie ‘Nine’ made […]

New Site Layout

I hope you like the new layout. Designer Simon Moore is still making tweaks, but I hope you’ll find much more information here now. I’ve added drop-down menus along the top of the page, making everything easier to navigate. Meanwhile, take a look at this if you haven’t already seen it. It’s called Architectural Projection […]

When Classics Get Precious

Enough now. I don’t know when it happened, but at some point in my lifetime Dickens’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ turned from a nice 66 page story about the spirit of Christmas into a gigantic ‘beloved classic’ industry. Worse still, it turned into a brand. Now, I love it as much as anyone else (give me […]

Things You Could Wish Upon Tyler Brule

Is style guru Tyler Brule the world’s most annoying man? Impossible to get through one of his newspaper columns without being made to feel physically ill at the level of namedropping he manages, Brule builds lists of where to buy sesame-scented candles and macaroons in Paris, or why you must insist on buying hand-painted kid-skin […]

Christmas In Madrid

Tis the season to be travelling to a European Christmas fair for gifts, and as I have old friends in Madrid, that’s where I am. Things I forgot about the place. 1. Nobody eats before 11pm 2. Nobody goes home before 3am 3. You can still smoke in restaurants and bars 4 Everybody, everywhere, at […]

When Trendy Travel Agencies Go Mad

As a relatively seasoned traveller with at least a modicum of eco-awareness, I try to visit places where locals might benefit from my tourist bucks. Travel agents know that I occasionally want to sit in the sun far away from crowds and think up plots for novels, and I’m prepared to try somewhere new. However, […]

Actor Speaks In Tongues

Ian Hart, who is appearing in the West End play ‘Speaking In Tongues’, left the stage and shouted at an overenthusiastic member of the audience last night. It’s something no actor ever does in London, no matter how bad it gets. Now the audience member is threatening to sue for damages because he was made […]

Your Christmas Movies 2

It’s time we added some other movies to the Christmas Comfort list. How about A Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, Barbarella (come on, it’s pretty tame now and it has a snow scene), Tim Burton’s second Batman with the Penguin, the Dino De Laurentiis King Kong? Personally I’d choose A Christmas Story, National Lampoon’s Christmas […]

Has New York Lost Its Cool?

There’s a row brewing on the internet and in the press about New York’s high prices driving out its creative types. The New York Times says: “The sudden downturn has affected the very industries that give New York its identity — finance, media, advertising, real estate, even tourism — with real prejudice. The result is […]