Book Song – How Richard Thompson helped build my imaginary library

  In writing a satire on the publishing industry I had the usual titular challenge of ‘what to call it’, settling on ‘Written Off’ in the end (my working title, naturally). But that was only the start. A book about publishing and wannabe authors meant I had to come up with the titles of around another twenty books, reflecting the many different genres into which my aspiring authors were dipping their nibs. How did I do it? I enlisted Richard Thompson for help. Not personally, but the vast catalogue of songs the singer/songwriter has composed over the past six decades. […]

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Oslodown

  From a towering height of 60 metres, as you gaze down the in-run of the Holmenkollen ski jump in Oslo, one inescapable thought will strike you: ski jumpers are definitely more than a bit mad. Maybe it’s a fascination with a sport that can do serious damage to participants that attracts over a million visitors to the hill each year, making it Norway’s most popular tourist destination. Nonetheless, how many other cities offer such a precipitous – and vertigo inducing – attraction, as well as letting you ascend to the top of it to take in the view? There’s […]

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Sydney in Full Sail

Boat seems to be a popular way to arrive in Sydney.  Two hundred years ago the British government disgorged thousands of convicts onto these shores following arduous eight-month passages from Blighty in flimsy sailing ships. Their tickets were stamped ‘life’. These days the harbour is full of gigantic super liners whose passengers spend less than two days ashore. Presumably the food and sleeping arrangements are better for the trainer-wearing silver surfers than those endured by sheep stealers and cutpurses of yore.  But if you’ve ever been on a cruise, maybe not that much better. The whole world is beating a […]

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Warsaw Resurgent

Just a few short years ago Warsaw wouldn’t have been top of too many travellers’ city-break lists. But Poland’s capital has made a habit of resurrecting itself over the centuries and is once more enjoying a resurgent period in its long and difficult history. There’s never been a better time to visit. The starting point for most tourists is the Market Place in the Old Town (Stare Miasto) with its charming facades and stunning period detail encapsulating hundreds of years of Polish heritage and prosperity. If walls could talk you’d imagine this square, in particular, would have plenty to tell […]

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A Robot is After Your Job

In shock news for journalists the world over, computer algorithms can now generate editorial and news pieces. This very article could, in fact, be the result of a sophisticated piece of artificial intelligence rather than the endeavour of an inky-fingered hack burning the midnight oil in order to meet a deadline. Some readers (or maybe the publisher of Gafencu) might even prefer the CPU to the cliché, or cannot tell the difference, in which case why would it matter? Because, dear reader, while you’re perusing this on your tablet, screen or mobile (or even in print) someone else is working […]

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