Observatory

The Christmas Quiz For Those Of A Certain Age: Answers

A still from a later edition of ‘Crackerjack’ and yes, it has blackface cannibals, a standard comic trope based on cartoon clichés divorced from anything real, but still awkward now. I have an ambivalent attitude to nostalgia. Is it fun to look back? Yes. Would I want to live there? No. The Answers 1. George Cole […]

A Christmas Quiz For Those Of A Certain Age

I’m fed up with popular quizzes about Taylor Swift, Little Mix and Tik Tok. I for one gave up chasing the Yoof vote long ago. I love the young because the remnants of our world are in their hands and I have a feeling they won’t screw up this time, but they get enough coverage, […]

Fowler’s Miscellany II

But First, A Bulletin From Members Of The Maniac Community Give the people a referendum and you will soon cease to believe in democracy, Churchill pointed out. This week there were mass protests outside our station and through our surrounding streets as Anti-Maskers teamed up with every other dissident group to crowd through the tube […]

Fowler’s Miscellany

Things that should not bother me but do.   It’s probably not bad grammar, especially from the Washington Post, and I hugely admire Americans for taking welcome shortcuts through language, but in my head this reads ‘lose even more badly’. Sorry. I’ve managed to adapt to ‘train station’ instead of ‘railway station’ and even ‘bored […]

Back Open For Business

You never know if it’s real or a robot, do you? I’ve been out of the country for the past week, and as this happened at short notice I wrote a couple of articles in advance. But I didn’t pack my laptop. I hadn’t expected to end up chasing turtles off the coast of West […]

An Apology

I’d like to apologise for the extreme boringness of yesterday’s entry on BFI Film Guides. It was only one stop above The History of the Apostle Spoon. I had just returned from Kent and was overcome with fatigue, so I wrote about the nearest things to hand without thinking that they might proved staggeringly dull […]

How Not To Spend It

  This is the death-knell of the department store. (Above; the guest who did not tip) This is the year that turned into my own personal annus horribilis. But here’s something interesting: Our self-isolating future may bring an end to less fulfilling jobs. The service industry is the most obvious game changer. Over the last week […]

What Will Happen Next?

Who knew that cutting hair was so easy? What will happen next? Plague of frogs. Death of the first born. A third Dr Phibes film. You name it, lockdown’s ending, we’re off-road and anything can happen now. Beach chairs are selling out in Siberia. The virus-denying Brazilian president is sick, and the rest of the […]

Nurse! The Screens!

This column is going to be like the comments section; all over the place. But it probably reflects my fractured mindset at the moment. Morphine, I thought, having instant thoughts of Sax Rohmer and Anna May Wong, does it have a place in the modern medicine cabinet? I checked the bottle. A liquid with a […]

Ouch!

I used to be quite good friends with Clive Barker. The next time I see him, remind me to kick his teeth down his throat. Clive knew quite a bit about pain. He wrote about it in the most visceral, extraordinary way, as if no-one had ever written about it before, as a living thing, […]