Roast Peanuts, how Charlie Brown introduced me to girls

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June 1976 What I enjoyed about ‘Peanuts’ is hard now to say.  Charles Shultz’ strip cartoon appeared in The Observer’s colour magazine, which my parents bought on Sundays, and each week, I devoured the four-panel tale. Snoopy’s fantasy’s life as a pilot, Peppermint Pattie’s obdurate athleticism, and Charlie Brown’s fruitless […]

Better by design

With nearly eighty bicycles on display, in the Design Museum’s Cycle Revolution exhibition, enormous variety is the initial impression.  Even among those created with a single purpose in mind – going very fast around a track for a short space of time – design technology has moved in leaps and […]

Shopping drama: retail divas RIP

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A tribute to Pete Burns, and many others Late ‘70s Leeds was monochrome, hacked apart by urban motorways, choked with disused factories and fringed with bleak system-built housing. It was a metropolis of lost purpose – at least in my recollection. Nevertheless, every Saturday, my bus ground into the centre, […]

Heavy weather: climate change divides the TUC

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Much of the time, Trades Union Congress’ annual get-together is reminiscent of a revivalist meeting – true believers gathered in the certainty of salvation.  Nearly every motion is endorsed by unanimous acclaim, the General Council’s opinion on each proposition is received with earnest appreciation, and every speaker is generously applauded. […]

Rigged competition: how EU law works against freelances

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“To know better your enemies is to better chances of your eventual victory”, wrote Sun Tzu in the Art Of War.  So an eyeball-to-eyeball encounter with one of the European Union’s competition tzars provided provided a rare chance to understand the frustrations placed in the way of unions working on […]

Camera wobble: Sky’s photo contest misses its subject

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“Taking a picture is to take away, not to put in, otherwise it is mediocrity”, the gruff Oliviero Toscani barked at a contestant on Sky Arts Master of Photography last week.  It is a gnomic gem he has dished it out, with slight variations, to many of the hopefuls competing […]

Bank failure: my involuntary Cam dip

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  Reaching the riverbank in Grantchester, my instinct was to first test the water’s temperature. The grassy bank is nearly two feet above the lapping surface so I inched forward from a sitting position before fully committing.  It wasn’t to be. As my toes touched the stream, I slid involuntarily […]

World reports – IFJ Congress 2016

Marching with flowers in memory of Camille Lepage

VIEW FROM THE TOP “It would be an enormous privilege for you to be a member of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Congress Presidium” Jim Boumelha (then IFJ president) whispered in my ear. “Basically it means that you are completely in charge of congress, you could really make a […]