THE DISTANCE BETWEEN RIGHT AND WRONG

How do you measure the distance between right and wrong? Does it vary like the moon’s distance from earth? Or is it exact like Einstein’s E = mc2? Can you be a little bit wrong? Or almost right? Big Brother’s Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s 1984 convinced the oppressed that 2+2=5 and did so in […]

A PERSONAL LIBRARY

Umberto Eco (1932-2016) – the Italian philosopher and novelist, author of The Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum – had a personal library of 50,000 books. He thought of books as medication, each volume appropriate to different ailments, moods and moments of ennui. He said: ‘Those who buy only one book, read only that one […]

HOW TO BE HAPPIER

We would all like to know how to be happier and the answer may be a lot more simple than we thought. I typed ‘how to be happier’ into Google and in 0.43 seconds received 228 million listings. Give each one two minutes and it will take almost a year (reading 24/7) to read them […]

YOUR NAME BECOMES WHO YOU ARE

In my research into the name Thurlow, it occurred to me that your name becomes who you are and has a far stronger influence on our lives than we imagine. An article published in Psychology Today shows that people have stereotypical views of others based on their names. Names can reveal cultural values and locations […]

LADY GODIVA AND PEEPING TOM

Lady Godiva and Peeping Tom had an assumed or telepathic pact. When she rode naked through Coventry in the 11th century, had the hot bloodied young Tom not taken a peep, her theatrics may have been a complete flop. The money grubber Lord Godiva had hiked up the rents paid by the impoverished tenants on […]

KILLING A SWAN

Killing a swan was once considered an act of treason and still today you can end up with a large fine, even a prison sentence. I didn’t know that when I was 14 and didn’t know that summer day in the school holidays that I would be killing a swan. There were four of us […]

HOW TO STEAL AN ELECTION

With time running out for Rishi Sunak before the next general election, the Tories are frantically flipping through the playbook on how to steal an election. Sunak’s first dodgy stratagem is bringing in photo IDs, which could disenfranchise as many as two million people. The best form of identity is a passport or driving licence. […]

THE ARCTIC CONVOYS TO RUSSIA

Winston Churchill was piped aboard HMS Tyne and dad after hearing him nightly on the wireless got a glimpse of their wartime leader in person. It was August 1942 and Gunner Thurlow was among the several hundred sailors expecting the pep talk to confirm the rumour that the Arctic convoys to Russia were about to […]

DALI, DISNEY, DESTINO AND PINK FLOYD

A YouTube user calling himself BigDaddyAEL1964 saw the Dalí/Disney film Destino and what came to his mind was Time by Pink Floyd. It was a stroke of genius. Salvador Dalí met Walt Disney in 1945 and both knew on instinct that they had to collaborate on a project. That project was Destino, the story of a […]

THE MYSTERY OF THE MONA LISA SMILE

The mystery of the Mona Lisa smile is that the mystery has finally been solved. Lisa del Giocondo is amused watching Leonardo da Vinci’s head pop out from behind the easel as he paints her portrait and smiles that illusive smile. ‘Yes, yes, lovely, dear. Keep your head still. Don’t move your lips…’ ‘I’ll try […]

DON’T LOOK BACK

If someone shouts, ‘don’t look’ or ‘don’t look back,’ the natural instinct is to turn and have a good look. When the Sea God Poseidon caught a glimpse of Medusa, it was a disaster. She was a beautiful young priestess with golden curls falling over her pretty shoulders and served in the temple of Athena […]

Message From a Cactus

The other night we received a message from a cactus and I laid in bed unable to sleep thinking about it. The cactus stands in the narrow passage at the back of our house in Cadaqués in an old pot among several plants we don’t always remember to water. Who do they belong to? They […]

The First Movie Ever Made

The first movie ever made was Le Voyage Dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon) by the French pioneer Georges Méliès in 1902. He had shot more than 100 short films to prepare himself for the 14-minute one-reeler and left audiences aghast with a rocket voyaging into space, circling planets and alien life forms […]

THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’

In 1964 I was sixteen. I bought a black rollneck sweater and a pair of Cuban heeled boots from Anello & Davide in Coven Garden. I read The Outsider (L’Étranger) by Albert Camus. I learned how to talk with a cigarette balanced in the corner of my mouth and heard The Times They Are A-Changin’ […]

SALVADOR DALÍ AND RAQUEL WELCH

Salvador Dalí and Raquel Welch had absolutely nothing in common. He admired beautiful women without wishing to own them and saw nothing in their curves and charms to excite his surreal and original mind. Still, Dalí and Raquel were put together in 1965 as a publicity stunt by film director Richard Fleischer when he was […]

SHE BELONGS TO ME

When Paul McCartney was asked in HMV’s ‘My Inspiration’ campaign to name the songwriter who had most inspired him, he chose Bob Dylan and said his favourite track was She Belongs To Me. It was an incisive choice. As young guys – before they were famous – they must have had similar experiences with those […]

THE INCURIOUS EYE

The incurious eye misses the obvious, the subtle, the subtext. The incurious eye is glazed in a cataract of ignorance and indifference. The incurious eye is neither blind nor myopic. It is empty. If there were a God his great gift to mankind would have been curiosity. Curiosity invented fire, tools, hunting and gathering. Nuclear […]

WHAT IS CAPITALISM?

What is capitalism? The corner shop baker selling his bread is capitalism. The rock singer uploading music to Spotify is capitalism. The taxi driver with his own car taking fares is capitalism. I write books. A book that sells for £10 costs £2 to print; the publisher takes £3 and the bookshop £4. That leaves […]

THE TRAGIC MYTH OF THE ANGELUS OF MILLET

In his essay The Tragic Myth of The Angelus of Millet, Salvador Dalí interprets Jean-Francois Millet’s 1859 painting of a farmer in the fields with his wife as a depiction of male castration in the shadow of female sexuality and death. Was this Dalí being playful? Surreal? Provocative? Or was there more to Millet’s work than […]