Month: April 2019


"For a cautionary tale, everyone cites Paul Bradley Carr." - THE SUNDAY TIMES


Piano

The last time I picked up a musical instrument was back in 2007, when I sold my ten year old Fender Stratocaster guitar and amp for fifty bucks before setting off on my hotel living adventure.

Despite having owned the guitar for a decade, I’d never learned to play a single note (strum a single chord?)

Same story ten years earlier when, in high school, I bought a second hand drum kit, convinced its overbearing presence in our living room would force me to learn to play. 

In the end, I couldn’t even master a simple drum roll.

Post-Strat, I resigned myself to the fact that I would never learn to play music. That, when others produced their guitars or harmonicas at parties, or jammed with friends on weekends, I’d be resigned to singing along atonally and self-consciously in the background.

Twenty five is pretty much the cut off for learning music, isn’t it? Didn’t I once read something about brain plasticity and how it’s easier for a toddler to play Mozart than a grown man to learn chopsticks? Something like that. 

But then a few weeks ago, during my weekly French lesson, a bold thought struck me. They say the same about language, don’t they?…

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Disney

A few weeks back we – Sarah, the kids and I – spent five days at Disneyland for Evie’s birthday. We were hoping to stay at the Disneyland Hotel but due to some kind of pool refurbishment we ended up at the Paradise Pier, the lowest budget of the three major Disney hotels. 

I’m glad we did. Because staying at the Paradise Pier confirmed my suspicion that, at every price point, Disney has hotels down. 

If you’ve read any of my books (and if you haven’t, I forgive you), you’ll know that I grew up in hotels. As the child of hoteliers, I spent many of my early years living in and around hotels. I learned to ride a bike on the flat roof of a city-center hotel; I ate my first solid food in a hotel. Before I spoke my first word, I dialed nine for an outside line. Then, as an adult, I spent five years travelling the world, living only in hotels: an adventure I documented in The Upgrade.

I couldn’t tell you how many hotels I’ve stayed at in my life. Hundreds, certainly. A thousand, very possibly. So believe me when I say this: Nobody in the world understands hospitality like Disney.  …

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Pete

I know, I know. I promised I’d write about Disneyland this week. 

But first, like everyone else on the planet, I want to talk about Pete Buttigieg. Or ‘Mayor Pete’ as he seems to be quite wisely branding himself. 

A month or so back I wrote that we are living in an Assholistocracy. That is, a world governed and controlled by unredeemable assholes, all trying to out-asshole each other in order to appeal to a small but vocal asshole sector of the electorate. 

Then, two weeks ago, I wrote about the decline in popularity of religion, which is being replaced by the twin pseudo-religious concepts of “wellness” and “spirituality.” All the ritual and sense of belonging but none of the stigma of God as interpreted by right wing bigots and evangelical hypocrites. 

Implicit in both of those posts were a couple of questions: Is the assholishness trend, on a national and global level, irreversible. Even if, individually, we all try our best not to be assholes, is the world on an inexorable path towards more divisiveness, selfishness, and assholishness? 

Enter stage center-left, Mayor Pete who – in a single candidate – gives me hope that the answer to both questions could be “no.”…

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