Observatory

No More Money For Old Rope

This is a sad story. The legendary Indian rope trick is supposed to be a myth – the version of the story most commonly told has a young boy ascending the rope, only to vanish. The magician calls after the boy and, receiving no response, angrily climbs the rope himself. After he too vanishes, pieces […]

It Makes You Proud To Be English

Britain’s aspirations to become a spacefaring nation have inched closer as a bunch of worms from a Bristol rubbish dump boarded the Atlantis space shuttle at Cape Canaveral for a mission to a $100bn international space station. They will be studied in its weightless confines as research for scientists to explain how astronauts build and […]

A Writer’s Life 2: What Do You Do All Day?

Why not be a writer? Because writing is not plumbing, you idiots! You can’t be taught it unless there’s already a natural propensity for it. I always had a day job, but two years ago I was finally in a position to switch to full-time writing from home. The changeover was easier than I’d been […]

A Writer’s Life 1: The Oldest Question In The Book

This is an occasional series about the problems of writing full time. My photo shows the factory in China where they make Dr Who dolls. To a publisher, this is a very exciting picture. After all, it’s the world’s longest running SF series and has spawned a zillion spinoffs. Nobody remembers Sydney Newman, the drama […]

A Christmas Carol: Ghost Or Horror Story?

Judging by the new version of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, it’s a horror story. Once again, director Robert Zemeckis has opted for motion capture or performance capture as it now seems to be called, providing viewers with creepy Madame Tussauds-style mannequins instead of actors. The dead eyes and exaggerated features recall victorian caricatures, but the […]

Everyone Wants To Be A Teen Again

In a depression the population turns to the movies, but this downturn is regressing us all to childhood, says today’s Times. The hot high-end fashion items are bunny ears and dinosaur-shaped handbags, the hot date movies are Up and The Fantastic Mr Fox, the hot screen icon is teenage vampire Robert Pattinson, adults are watching […]

The Portable Office

A new survey has revealed that on average Londoners carry £3,000 worth of gadgetry in their bags to work, including laptops, mobiles, car radio faceplates, music players, portable games consoles, Satnavs, Blackberrys etc. No mention of a book, but there’s always an eReader to contend with – except that so far commuters seem resistant to […]

What Makes A Londoner Part 2

Here are a few more London test questions, to add to the growing reader lists on the earlier post. You know you’re a real Londoner when; 1. You know what the photo shows and where it is. 2. You know about the parking space on the South side of Waterloo Bridge that’s always free because […]

London Quiz Number 2:

You’re going to hate me for this one. Does anyone know why there are almost twice as many London pub names starting with a ‘B’ or a ‘C’ than any other letter of the alphabet?

What Makes A Londoner?

It’s one of those questions that come up on pub evenings: Are Londoners born or raised? Heredity has lost out over environment. It’s not who your parents are but how you live, and London is working proof. After a period of living here, residents quickly adopt London habits. Being able to tick any three of […]