The Magnetic North – Notes from the Arctic Circle By Sara Wheeler (Jonathan Cape £20)
The author of Terra Incognita, which was about the untouched Antarctic, reluctantly travels to the “complicated, life-infested” north; its polar opposite in more ways than one.
The hostile territory, “as close to Mars as we can get”, according to Martian aficionados, isn’t what she’s afraid of. But Wheeler is ambivalent about the Arctic’s history, politics, and inhabitants – complications absent in Antarctica.
Once “the front line of the Cold War”, the Arctic circle is now the front line of climate change, which Wheeler explains lucidly. Nonetheless, there is something rather sinister about embarking on what is essentially a holiday, with all the emissions that go with it, to lament something already well-proven and accepted by science.
Wheeler is more adept at writing engaging descriptions of people and sceneries than tackling global warming. Her language is poetic and atmospheric, and she draws on the works of previous visitors – Dickens, Checkov, Turi and Munthe – to illustrate her own experiences.
- Blur et.al in Hyde Park. Pure awesomeness; wonderful. Apart from the realisation I am too old/anxious/neurotic to mosh anymore. Even though we did arrive at 2pm to secure a place three metres from front barrier.
- Leonard Cohen. Possibly best gig ever, or at least in the top five (despite weirdly inappropriate venue and unrelenting rain).
- Avignon. Went for my aunt’s anniversary and 70th birthday. Stayed in a lovely YMCA youth hostel avec piscine. Party weekend coincided with Avignon theatre festival so went to lots of shows (might write more on that later) as well as hanging out with relatives. Hot.
- Lido. Been to Brockwell lido a dozen times this summer, and Tooting three times. Tooting is objectively the nicer swimming pool, and, at 91 metres, the biggest open-air one in Europe, apparently. But Brockwell is a convenient 20 minutes walk from home.
- University Challenge. Went up to Manchester twice to see Jack competing for UCL. Lots of fun.
- Reviews. Wrote my last ever book review for Big Issue, after 7 years of service, because they are cutting their commissioning budget, which, strangely, does affect me even though I never got paid. But I will now be writing two short non-fiction reviews for the Financial Times each week instead
Still to come: Proms, more swimming, Field Day, dancing, gardening
That’s where all the mischief was
Rocket scientist types
At the top
Confluence in factors that operated
Two bad assumptions / Housing prices unlikely to go down
Assets less correlated across the country
Based on history / In
1983, doug diamond
Predicted they would be infrequent
Private equity funds faring badly
Some other stuff predictable / Not teaching anything differently
“I’m sorry, I didn’t have time to do anything. I had a lunch and then I was on TV.”
Walking from my work to the Royal Festival Hall to see Squarepusher, Jack and I bumped into two friends, AW and AC.
AW told us how he had haggled over a 99′ flake earlier. Presented with his ice cream, AW was asked for £3.
£3. For a 99′flake. Oh, how times have changed.
“I’m not paying that!” he exclaimed.
“Oh, alright, you can have it for £2,” said the man in the ice cream van. “You’ve got yourself a real bargain there,” he added.
“No I haven’t,” grumbled AW.
AW was on his way to see friends, and AC to see Let the right one in, the Swedish vampire-horror-art flick (it’s a niche genre) I saw at the Ritzy a couple of weeks ago, on one of the best days ever.
When we told them we were on the way to see Squarepusher, AW said he had seen him at All Tommorow’s Parties (ATP is a sore point), “with his bass guitar and his light show”. I didn’t really know what he was talking about, so I just smiled and nodded politely and wished him a good evening and farewell.
Now I know what he was talking about. Gig was awesome, as expected. But Squarepusher kind of actually rocked out, which was less expected.
Space in the Royal Festival Hall – “Clore ballroom”, apparently – was used brilliantly. The whole of the RFH was reserved for the gig, so it had a real festival feel to it, with people sitting on stairs and on the floor and dancing and all that. DJs pre and post Squarepusher were ok, if a bit safe, in the traditional sense of the word.