Posted in November 2012

Free Range Journalism

Some years ago I campaigned to stop the building on a city park. Many of the arguments that were thrown at us are eerily similar to those being kicked around regarding press freedom. It’s mostly about the dangers of freedom. But it is dangers that help us to evolve, indeed, you could argue that they … Continue reading


Tea and Toast

I recently heard a discussion on the radio about that simple, and very English food, toast, though the prime minister of Denmark in The Killing III seems to be very fond of it also. This is Heywood Banks’ version of the history of toast, played on a toaster: This is Carl Philip Moritz’s discovery of … Continue reading

An Englishman’s Favourite Tipple

The 18th century in England was an age notorious for the consumption – often to excess – of alcohol, in part due to the lack of clean drinking water. Hogarth famously illustrated the social problems of gin, and rum was a common drink on board ships, especially once they had figured out how to distil … Continue reading

Herr Moritz Gives Advice for Visitors

Another anecdote from Carl Philip Moritz’s Journal of 1782: “A foreigner has nothing to fear from the Press Gang provided he keeps away from suspicious places. Standing on dry land on Tower Hill, near the Tower of London is a ship complete with masts and rigging. This is no more than an ingenious device for … Continue reading

Herr Moritz Goes to St James’s Park

Another part of Carl Philip Moritz’s account of his visit to London in 1782: “This park is nothing more than a semi-circular avenue of trees enclosing a large area of greensward in the midst of which is a swampy pond. Cows feed on the turf and you may buy their milk quite freshly drawn from … Continue reading

A German Traveller

A Prussian pastor called Carl Philip Moritz visited England in 1782, starting in London then going on a walking tour up to Derbyshire. His account, published as a series of letters as was the style at the time, is beautifully written and privides some lucid descriptions of life at the time. He sailed up the … Continue reading

The Origins of Fairs

I have been working through a book by Nigel Heard, ‘International fairs’. By focusing on trade, it shows how European history has been affected by commerce. Greek civilisation drove trade, similarly to that of Western Europe in the 19th century. When Rome expanded to the Levant, it gave them access to gold, and silver, so … Continue reading

Capek and Robots

My newspaper today has a quote from the great Czech writer Carel Capek who first coined the term robot in its modern sense. “Man will never be enslaved by machinery if the man tending the machinery is paid enough.” This sums up the eternal dilemma presented by machinery: the utopian notion of freeing humanity of … Continue reading