23:17

Stretch across the centuries

Great age gives a huge stretch across history - sometimes generating second hand reports that seem extraordinary. My mother-in-law, who died three year ago at ninety-two gave an example of this. 


She remembered, as a child in the 193os, talking to her great aunt who was nearly a hundred at the time. The conversation was about the French Revolution and somehow the subject of Robespierre’s execution had come up. Someone said that ‘sea green incorruptible’ had met his end wearing a blue cravat but was told by the elderly lady that it was, in fact, red. How did she know this? Her nanny had seen it and told her. This was in 1793.


As one slides out of middle age the same stretch starts to happen. As a child in rural Leicestershire I was surrounded by veterans of the Great War and, poignantly, by spinsters  whose potential husbands has died on the Western Front. My own grandfather, who died young, fought with the Australian Light Horse in Palestine and took part in the last cavalry charge by British Empire forces. In our village was a very old man called Patsy Garton who had fought in the Boer  War. 


He was something of a rogue and liked his drink. The nearest pub was in the next village which was approached by a gated road and often we would drive up to the gate to find Patsy fast asleep in his pony and trap with the pony waiting patiently by the gate which we would open. The pony would trot on with the comatose Patsy slumped across the seat and stop outside his door to stand calmly until his owner bestirred himself. 


The first autonomous self-driving vehicle?

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10:21

Infant Teeth

Infant Teeth
This is a young child’s skull that shows its multiple layers of teeth. No wonder teething hurts so much. 
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06:29

(Temporary Backup) Cassettes

(Temporary Backup) Cassettes
For me, one of the unalloyed joys of the modern age is digital music. You can download anything you want and either buy it or stream it on S...
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11:36

American fundamentalism

American fundamentalism
American exceptionalism is something that was understandable in the greatest democratic experiment there has ever been. Who can deny that th...
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18:03

Brave new property world

Brave new property world
I wrote this for Property Vision in August of the Coronvirus Year “At the beginning of the plague, when there was now no more hope but that ...
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20:56

The North Face of the Eiger

 The North Face of the Eiger
When I was at prep school, I read Heinrich Harrer’s The White Spider. Harrer is famous as the author of Seven Years in Tibet, made into a fi...
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17:44

Beyond Meat

Beyond Meat
I had my first Beyond Meat burger this week. It was delicious. The texture and taste were good and it was like meat. Like is the best word a...
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09:37

Property in a Coronavirus world

Property in a Coronavirus world
It has been almost impossible to comment on the property market over the last six weeks - not least because it would seem like musings from ...
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15:58

Silent Spring

Silent Spring
During the lockdown there has been many mentions of a Silent Spring - a phrase that has sinister connotations of a post-apocalyptic world of...
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17:42

South Africa - a sad waste

South Africa - a sad waste
This chart surprises and shocks. It surprises in the extraordinary economic success of so many African countries (these figures are pre-Coro...
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17:17

Toughening up

Toughening up
There has been much talk about wartime spirit of late - common danger faced with a heightened sense of community. The one thing that hasn’t ...
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13:28

Heathrow

Heathrow
There has been much jubilation at the Court of Appeal’s decision on Heathrow. Sadly (I think a third runway is a terrible idea) that jubilat...
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15:52

Tube Map

Tube Map
We all know what the London Tube map looks like. It’s not a great way to navigate your way around London above ground however - as many naiv...
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12:53

Octopuses

Octopuses
This is a review by Amir Shrinivasen in the London Review of Books of   Other Minds:  The Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent   Life by...
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15:37

1917

1917
I went to see 1917 recently and seem to be in a minority of one that didn’t like it. Where to start? The story was ridiculous. Communication...
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23:19

Dropping into another world

Dropping into another world
The nature of paragliding is that you are held aloft by thermals that are bubbles of heated air that separate from the ground and rise up to...
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17:27

Cycling and surfing

Cycling and surfing
You would think that bicycling and surfing would be chilled out activities - out in the open, often in the sun and at one with nature. So wh...
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17:33

Spain from the air

Spain from the air
I recently spent a week in north-east Spain flying my little plane around Catalonia, Aragon and Navarre. I was blown away by the beauty, wi...
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18:58

Cannabis Laws

Cannabis Laws
Sometimes you hear things that are so stupid you wonder if common sense is truly dead. This morning, on the Today Programme, they interviewe...
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