Adventures in… Madeira

One of my favourite magazines, Delayed Gratification, has a section called Butterfly Effect. In it, the implausible series of events leading from, say, a man tripping over a rabbit in 1779, is unfolded to its logical conclusion of man landing on the moon. (And hello Apollo 11 60th anniversary!) A similar cascade of events might explain why we went to Madeira. The Wright brothers get a plane in the air. A cascade of imperial cock-ups, colonial mis-adventures and diplomatic disasters lead to WW1. The peace of WW1 leaves Germany devastated and primed for the rise of a far-right Nazi leader.…

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Running Sucks Sorta Maybe No

Running sucks. I’m kinda learning to love it. As a child, I was taught that exercise was basically a moral sin. For my Dad, who was always overweight, exercise was just something he straight-up refused to do. My Mum loves walking everywhere and values exercise in life deeply, but always had a strong sense that to ‘do exercise’ such as the gym was to indulge in unforgivable vanity and self-importance. That, and she hated the swimming pool changing rooms. Consequently, I was raised suspicious of basically all activity that wasn’t walking casually ever. At secondary school, my PE report was…

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The Pursuit of William Abbey – Cover

New book! Whooooooo! I’m not very good at saying stuff about why my own books are cool and you should read ’em (I’ve spent a lot of the last year apologising for 84K being flippin’ bleak – sorry – but an on-it bleak) but Orbit has way nicer things to say about it. This one is set between 1884-1917, and features a great deal of spying, running away from things, travel, lies, revolution and fresh air and exercise. It’s also a really sexy cover design by Steve Panton, and I hope come November I’ll have come up with a wonderful…

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Adventures in… Bucharest

“Do you fancy a trip to….” began the representative of the British Council. “Ohohohohoh yes pick me!” “… now, hear me out, because it’s important you understand….” “PICK ME PICK ME PICK ME!” Maybe nuanced negotiation isn’t my top thing. But hell, if anyone wants to send me on adventures then I’m totally in, ‘cos it’s amazing. I landed in Bucharest after a storm. And the Pope. Both were considered disruptive by the man who met me at the airport. Floodwater had temporarily blocked off the main entrance to the airport car park, and now gaggles of men with rolled-up…

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European Elections 2019 – Go Vote!!

First: a shout-out to Full Fact, the fact-checking charity which carries a huge amount of information on basically every issue under the sun in British politics, and has succeeded in unsettling both the left and right of the political divide with its pesky ‘reality’. For sheer, clear being informed, I have yet to find anything better. The UK is, despite everything, taking part in the European Elections on May 23rd – this Thursday. It’s not just that we’re still embroiled in Brexit, the endless disaster car-crash that just won’t stop; culturally we’re now in a place where the current political…

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Adventures in Cornwall

Day 0 I hate leaving the house after, say, 8 p.m.. It feels too much like going to a night shift. Things should be winding down, not winding up. But there’s a sleeper train from Paddington to Penzance bording from 22.30, and it’s way cheaper and kinda cooler to start this trip with the overnight train than a day train + hotel stay. So off I go! Paddington as the last trains come and go is a little eerie. It’s suddenly much bigger without all the people, and much too quiet. In a waiting area next to the platform, people…

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