O dolce stil italiano!

Some people are afraid of crossing the streets in Italy, and it’s easy to see why, for the subtle conventions that regulate interactions between pedestrians and drivers are different here. But there’s no reason to linger on the footpath; all you need do is project an air of confidence as you step into the traffic, while being prepared to retreat […]

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Arriving in London

The train that takes you along the Piccadilly line from Heathrow Airport to central London passes through places with such evocative names: there are Osterley, North Fields, Acton Town, Turnham Green, Stamford Brook…all of them Germanic, expressed in the language that has predominated here since about the fifth century, and suggesting a relationship between humans and the environment that, in both its closeness and […]

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Two Helpers

We seem to be living in a world that is changing quickly. I remember reading once that there may be an error of vision that leads us to see things this way; in a row of telegraph poles, the distance between the two nearest us seems larger than the distances between all the other poles combined.  Nevertheless, it looks as though we […]

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Entering into Judgment

The recent rioting in Britain is hard to account for. Doubtless poverty and racial tension have played a part, and further in the background such intangibles as social deprivation and alienation, although these are fuzzy concepts that cry out for definition. And there is also the moral failure of people who chose to steal and, apparently, commit murder. Such actions must be […]

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Lady Gaga

Like Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk, Lady Gaga’s hit I Was Born This Way is something we seem to know about simply by virtue of living on this planet. It’s a bright, edgy song, its message one of accepting who you are (I’m on the right track baby, I was born this way), which Lady Gaga’s fans, in the main adolescent females, […]

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Thoughts on the Novel

The winning of the Nobel Prize in Literature by Orhan Pamuk in 2006 (posting 2011/06/08) adds his name to the increasingly lengthy list of laureates from non-Western countries. What’s going on here?   There may be an element of policy on the part of those who award the prize; one cannot help noticing that the ranks of female winners are expanding at […]

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The old school yard

The excellent myschool website established by the Australian government (www.myschool.edu.au) offers a vast amount of data about various schools, including the state high school I attended and look back on with feelings of nostalgia and gratitude for some dedicated teachers. Among other things, the site reveals that 13% of its students are from the top 25% of families according to the […]

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Developments in the library

A procedure I ‘ve just encountered at the library I most frequently use marks what is surely the last stage in a process that began some time ago. When I began to use the library you filled in an orange card for every book you borrowed, then stood in a queue to have a staff member process the loan. As […]

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Hometown news

Word has come that, after trading for 97 years, the last of the big family owned stores that used to line the main street of the town in which I grew up is soon to close its doors. It dealt in clothing, manchester and haberdashery, a range of goods, or at least words, that may suggest it had fallen a little behind the times, […]

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