Here’s a story I wrote which follows a man going for a routine eye test. Nothing out of the ordinary happens. Everything goes completely as planned. The protagonist ends up at least as satisfied as when he began.
If only stories were like that.
The Optometrist’s Door [–> Read PDF version]
Richard Palmer waddled to a stop on Streatham High Street and checked his scribbled to-do list. After some deliberation he decided to go for ’10:30 Optician’ instead of ‘Buy bread & corned beef’. He’d get to the optician early, but he couldn’t stand the thought of arriving late for his appointment, only to be told he’d have to wait 3 weeks for another. He set off with a determined stride. Continue reading “The Optometrist’s Door”
Just an update to say ‘Philip K Dick Tweets’ is still going strong. He’s just reached the momentous point in his life which he’ll later refer to as ‘2-3-74’. Head over there to see how he’s coping with it all. I’m very honoured by all the comments I’ve received on this project; if there are any sci-fi fans out there who don’t know about it, please let them know!
On Monday we opened doors to Happy Teacher: http://happyteacher.org. It’s been a really interesting few months since I wrote this article, and met up with John, the web developer who shared my passion for the project. So do you think Happy Teacher is a good idea? Should teachers have a site where they can write anonymous reviews of what it’s like to work at their school? Will it do anything to provide more incentive for school leaders – including both headteachers and the DfE – to put more a higher priority on teacher wellbeing?
So last year I wrote up the skeleton of a play to be performed at e.g. The National, centred around the use, misuse and romantic implications of the Two Together Railcard. But I did actually write the play itself. I sent this off to a few places, who presumably thought that a 30-minute play about a little-known British railcard was a little too niche. If you disagree, there’s nothing I’d love more than to see this play actually performed. If you want to, please just me know – or even better than that, please just produce it and invite me to its premier as a surprise.
Very excited to start off (@DoAndroidsTweet). It’s taken me a while to find someone who’s fascinated me as much as Wittgenstein and Oppenheimer did, although I’m not sure even a futuristic super-computer of Philip K Dick’s devising could work out the logic behind the sequencer Wittgenstein – Oppenheimer – Dick – (?? what next ??).
I think it was Paul Verhoeven’s ‘Total Recall‘ (1990) that switched me on to Philip K Dick’s work. Then the short stories, some of his more famous novels, and Spielberg’s ‘Minority Report‘ (2002). It was when recently reading his short story, ‘The Minority Report‘ (1956), that I got really interested in Philip K Dick the person. The more I read, the more amazed I was that no biopic has yet been made of this man’s life. I read Lawrence Sutin’s ‘Divine Invasions‘ (1989) and knew I had to fire up the old coin-operated, part-man-part-android tweet machine. For more on the project, please see here. Hope you like the tweets.
Very happy to see my article on teacher wellbeing in the Times Educational Supplement here: One Teacher’s Radical Proposal for Reversing the Slump in Teacher Wellbeing. This centres around the problem a dissatisfied teacher might have when considering a different school to work at. Currently we operate with a thick fog of war obscuring our view of what it’s actually like to work there – something which probably affects a lot of other professions too. I think that teacher wellbeing should be higher up on the agenda at every school, and here is one proposal to help move in that direction. Unfortunately this contains no sci-fi, and virtually no frivolity, which is why I allowed my title here to be inspired by video games.
Very happy to see my opinion article on the UK housing crisis up on Generation Rent. It is about the divisive nature of housing in the UK, and is itself fairly divisive. It starts…
Now that the election is over, and Eurovision is a distant memory, London turns back to its favourite moan: the housing crisis. I frequently share this moan with my mixed group of friends: some renters, some homeowners, some letting out the odd room or flat. This conversation always seems to have an ‘in it together’ atmosphere, as we berate the property speculators, the oligarchs with vacant mansions, and most of all our government, which clearly sees its role as sustaining the rise in house prices (Help to Buy, pension reforms, reductions in stamp duty and so on).
But we ignore the elephant in the over-valued and under-sized room. This is an elephant which you’d see, if you looked hard enough, lurking in the corner of almost every Independent or Guardian article decrying the housing crisis. The elephant in the room is simply this: we find ourselves on opposing sides of this ‘crisis’ and for some of us this ‘crisis’ is something we profit from and sustain…. [keep reading]
Skeleton of a play to be performed at e.g. The National, centred around the use, misuse and romantic implications of the Two Together Railcard. 8 Acts (too much? Can it be achieved in fewer?).
Male and female are in early stages of relationship. Just beyond the honeymoon period, where unfettered lust has started to seep into domestic duties e.g. they’ve just done their first joint shop at Tesco. Male gives surprise gift. The surprise alone is too forward for female. But even more embarrassing and presumptuous is the gift itself: Two Together Railcard – annual. Emphasise date e.g. 15th December 2016 (decide on which month associates best with commitment/
melancholy. September?). Female looks off stage as if looking into distant future. Uncertainty. [Read PDF Version] Continue reading “Two Together (or: I’ll Keep You in My Pocket)”
A bit late to update on this one, but I had the good opportunity to write an article for the Independent on the probability of the same couple winning the Euromillions lottery twice. Which one couple did. David Hume famously wrote an argument against a belief in miracles, and I don’t want to ruin the ending but I basically follow suit. Still, you’re perfectly within your rights to think that I was just a bit bitter that I haven’t even won the Euromillions once…
About a year ago, my girlfriend, Emily, and I got into the habit of going to bed with TED talks playing from one of our phones. I can’t remember exactly why we started doing this – I think she’s always liked hearing voices at night, perhaps we thought it’d dispel some sleep-disturbing anxiety, and I guess it was a cosy way to get a lazy dose of edification.
We got a little bored of the typical TED patter, so we explored listening to different things like music or stand-up comedy. I’d been a long-time fan of Stewart Lee and Emily was just getting into him (100% pear cider; sardines; there’s a horse, Stew; etc.) so we gave that a go. You can find lots of Stewart Lee clips on YouTube, a fact which Stewart Lee detests, but since I’ve gone to see about 5 of his live shows and bought his autobiography, I didn’t feel too bad. Continue reading “The Stewart Lee Lullaby”