The Unimaginable

It’s hard, perhaps, for non-Americans to realise how significant New Orleans is to the American psyche. This isn’t some minor midwestern city, but one of the cultural touchstones of America: the home of jazz, of voodoo, of chilli-laced gumbo and Southern gothic horror. Like San Francisco, it’s a city that has attracted artists and bohemians partly because of its precarious physical situation, with the ever-present threat that it could all end tomorrow encouraging its never-ending party atmosphere.

Read More · 31 August 2005 ·

First-Name Basis

A local boy was found dead a week and a half ago, and for days I’ve been haunted by doppelganger newspaper headlines: TRAGIC RORY’S BULLY HELL; RORY POLICE LAUNCH MURDER INQUIRY. When an adult is killed, the papers use surnames, but whenever it’s a child it’s first names all the way. Now I know how every Holly and Jessica in the country felt in 2002.

Still, it can’t be as bad as every Katrina must be feeling right now.

Read More · 29 August 2005 ·

Things I Will Not Do

Avoid visiting London. London is one of my favourite cities in the world, grime and noise and big-city frustrations and all. I have friends there, relatives there, ancestors there, memories there.

Avoid the Tube. Sure, it’s good to get out and walk through the city centre now and then, but how else are you supposed to get from Heathrow to the West End or Kings Cross to Clapham? Besides, London isn’t the only place with an underground: you want confined spaces, try Glasgow’s.

Avoid sitting on the upper deck of double-decker busses. I like the upper deck; you get to see where you’re going, you don’t have to compete with old ladies for seats, and making your way down the stairs is an adventure every time.

Treat all people of a particular appearance with suspicion. I’m a pale Caucasian with red hair. Twenty years ago, it could have been me getting sideways glances.

Read More · 15 July 2005 ·

Predicting a Riot

As you might have guessed from Friday’s entry, when I said that Bob Geldof’s “million people” descending on Edinburgh during the G8 would translate to half of what we see during the Fringe, I was expecting G8 Week in Edinburgh to be a bit of a fizzer—not the Make Poverty History march, so much as the days before and during the summit itself. I should have gone with my first impulse to say a tenth, because if anything the population has gone down this week, if you leave out the hordes of cops. The streets have been a strange blend of almost-deserted and occasionally packed (in places where the public has been herded away from trouble).

Read More · 7 July 2005 ·

Business as Usual

Central Edinburgh is eerily quiet today. Some photos of the day after the day after—or the day before the day before.

Update, same evening: Trying to get to the shops on Princes Street before close of business was a waste of time, because apparently there was a protest in the afternoon, and the riot police were still being shipped in at 5.30. Apart from the police and a noisy few, though, the only people in evidence were onlookers; even the riot was quiet.

4 July 2005 ·

Graffiti in Edinburgh

And what better way to abolish capitalismm mow than to spraypaint a bank and force its corporate masters to pass the costs of cleaning onto the public through higher fees and charges.

Read More · 1 July 2005 ·

Events in 2004