The Height of Pretence

Never seen the Beatles or The Stones? One Direction or The Arctic Monkeys not playing round your way in the near future? No problem – name virtually any top band or artiste from the past fifty years and the chances are you’ll find their doppelganger equivalents available for hire. The Bootleg Beatles, The Counterfeit Stones, The Antarctic Monkeys or Only One Direction – all now taking bookings for your birthday, wedding, office or Christmas party. It’s a curious development in popular entertainment. Tribute bands and performers are now a mini-industry, occasionally eclipsing the acts they’ve set out to emulate. These […]

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Lucca, Here

This article first appeared in Gafencu magazine, November 2015 Travellers to Tuscany spotting the mysterious road sign ‘FI-PI-SI’ could be forgiven for thinking that their guidebook has a page missing.   Where, exactly, is this fantastical spot that they’d never heard of? Actually, FI-PI-SI stands for Firenze – Pisa – Siena, so it’s highly likely most visitors will already have these cities underlined on their ‘must-do’ list. But how many travellers to Tuscany add ‘LU’ for Lucca to that itinerary? There is more than a strong case for claiming that Lucca is the best city in Tuscany to visit and stay […]

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Women Leaders on Top?

This article first appeared in Gafencu magazine, November 2105   November 16 next year may see the first-ever female president of the USA. Could it happen? Carly Fiorina certainly thinks so, and the more she continues to bitch about Hilary Clinton the more she believes it will. If such a historical landmark is attained it will also give rise to another important question. If America gets its first Madam President, who will pick the new curtains and soft furnishings for the Oval Office? See? Only one paragraph in and already two cheap, stereotypical jibes about women in high political office […]

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Destination Java: It’s smokin’

  This article first appeared in Gafencu magazine, September 2015 Type “Java” into any standard search engine and you’ll be faced with page after page of links to an innovative bit of software that helps your browser browse better. Impressive as it may be, however, it is something of a shame that this object-oriented programming language is now better known than the island that shares – if not originates – its name. It’s even more galling that the island itself could well be the gateway to one of the most beautiful, inspiring and magical holidays you’re ever likely to experience. […]

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Kublai: Yes, He Khan

    This article first appeared in Gafencu magazine, September, 2015   In Xanadu did Kubla Khan/A stately pleasure-dome decree. Most schoolchildren will have heard of Kubla – or to be more accurate, Kublai – Khan through Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous poem (or, if you’re of a certain age, Frankie Goes to Hollywood). But who was KK, and what, exactly, is a pleasure-dome? Where can you find one? Is membership required? Coleridge conceived ‘Kubla Khan’ as a 200 to 300-line work that apparently came to him in a dream after reading up on the Mongol warlord one night. Oh, and […]

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