Diagon Alley

ON a recent Saturday wet with the residue of a late morning mist, I ambled along the George IV Bridge in Edinburgh and found myself at the top of Victoria Street. If you are up-to-date with your reading on J K Rowling, you know this is the street she supposedly used as a model for Diagon Alley, that wonderful cobbled creation familiar to all Harry Potter fans.

Smoke in the Gardens

They are playing with fire and smoke in Bournemouth this week. The fire is courtesy the Carabosse Company, a French performance collective, which has transformed the Lower Gardens into a 'magical fiery landscape'. And the smoke? That's from Fuel, a fantastic group of free-runners and dancers, who are performing in a 360-degree open air theatre by the pier.

A 1,000 tweets. In 1,360 days. Ugh.

mahabharata new 2 smallOne thousand three hundred and sixty days -- that is, three years, eight months, and 21 days -- to complete 1,000 @epicretold tweets. Ugh. I honestly didn't mean to take this long to get here. A little stocktaking, and an excerpt of the dice game, from an adaptation of the Mahabharata for Twitter.

The whistleblower’s voice

Manning in court1Dissections of what Manning said in court have been plenty, but how he said what he said is equally important. Hearing Manning has the power to transform the image we have of him. If he is a "hysterical" "basket case", there is little to indicate that in his voice.

The many mispellings of Scot Fitzgareld

Fitzgerald smallYou don't need to be a wizard at spelling -- or, for that matter, punctuation -- to be a literary genius. This, I say on the basis of the personal ledger of Scott Fitzgerald. A quick trawl through a transcript now available online shows the man did have an issue with many words, not to mention the possessive apostrophe.

The woman who taunted Gaddafi

Libyan dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Image courtesy: Jan-Erik AnderOn the day when Gaddafi was threatening to "take the war to Europe", I happened to be flipping through a Playboy publication. Sadly, this one didn’t have any engaging photographs. What it had, though, was impressions of Gaddafi by someone who provoked -- no, taunted -- him in flesh, and came away unscathed.

Dateline Hastinapur

pandavas smallSuppose, just suppose, there were newspapers when the Pandavas were slugging it out with the Kauravas. The equivalents of The Times of India and The Sun and The New York Times and the BBC. How would the Kurukshetra war and the events that led to it have been narrated?

Harry Potter and the gayness of Voldemort

Half-Blood Prince opens up the possibility that Voldemort was gay. Or at least that he – pardon the pun – swung that way in his youth. The 11-year-old Tom Riddle manages to look sinister and pretty at the same time and the scene with Horace Slughorn, where he extricates the secret of immorality from the teacher, is a study in silky smiles … and snaky seduction.
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