September 15th, 2014

At the extreme, the less fortunate may not be seen as people at all. That was the finding of a study from Princeton University in which MRI scans were taken of several university students’ active brains while they viewed images of different people. Researchers saw that photographs of homeless people and drug addicts failed to stimulate areas of the brain that usually activate whenever people think about other people, or themselves. Instead, the (mostly affluent) students reacted to the images as if they “had stumbled on a pile of trash”.

How the super rich got richer


August 11th, 2014

Chantilly Codex


August 10th, 2014

He tells a touching anecdote about Mandela’s visit to the FitzGeralds’ home in Sussex; the older man was already very frail but stopped on his way into the house in front of two young men who had been working in the gardens, to compliment them. “Mandela would always do that, always notice the least significant person in the room and single them out and make them feel special. They would grow in front of your eyes.”

Lunch with the FT: Niall FitzGerald

If …

August 4th, 2014

Dearest Kitty,

“A bundle of contradictions” was the end of my previous letter and is the beginning of this one. Can you please tell me exactly what “a bundle of contradictions” is? What does “contradiction” mean? Like so many words, it can be interpreted in two ways: a contradiction imposed from without and one imposed from within.

The former means not accepting other people’s opinions, always knowing best, having the last word; in short, all those unpleasant traits for which I’m known. The latter, for which I’m not known, is my own secret.

As I’ve told you many times, I’m split in two. One side contains my exuberant cheerfulness, my flippancy, my joy in life and, above all, my ability to appreciate the lighter side of things. By that I mean not finding anything wrong with flirtations, a kiss, an embrace, an off-colour joke. This side of me is usually lying in wait to ambush the other one, which is much purer, deeper and finer. No one knows Anne’s better side, and that’s why most people can’t stand me.

Oh, I can be an amusing clown for an afternoon, but after that everyone’s had enough of me to last a month. Actually, I’m what a romantic movie is to a profound thinker – a mere diversion, a comic interlude, something that is soon forgotten: not bad, but not particularly good either.

I hate having to tell you this, but why shouldn’t I admit it when I know it’s true? My lighter, more superficial side will always steal a march on the deeper side and therefore always win. You can’t imagine how often I’ve tried to push away this Anne, which is only half of what is known as Anne-to beat her down, hide her. But it doesn’t work, and I know why.

I’m afraid that people who know me as I usually am will discover I have another side, a better and finer side. I’m afraid they’ll mock me, think I’m ridiculous and sentimental and not take me seriously. I’m used to not being taken seriously, but only the “light-hearted” Anne is used to it and can put up with it; the “deeper” Anne is too weak. If I force the good Anne into the spotlight for even fifteen minutes, she shuts up like a clam the moment she’s called upon to speak, and lets Anne number one do the talking. Before I realize it, she’s disappeared.

So the nice Anne is never seen in company. She’s never made a single appearance, though she almost always takes the stage when I’m alone. I know exactly how I’d like to be, how I am… on the inside. But unfortunately I’m only like that with myself. And perhaps that’s why-no, I’m sure that’s the reason why I think of myself as happy on the inside and other people think I’m happy on the outside. I’m guided by the pure Anne within, but on the outside I’m nothing but a frolicsome little goat tugging at its tether.

As I’ve told you, what I say is not what I feel, which is why I have a reputation for being boy-crazy as well as a flirt, a smart aleck and a reader of romances. The happy-go-lucky Anne laughs, gives a flippant reply, shrugs her shoulders and pretends she doesn’t give a darn. The quiet Anne reacts in just the opposite way. If I’m being completely honest, I’ll have to admit that it does matter to me, that I’m trying very hard to change myself, but that I I’m always up against a more powerful enemy.

A voice within me is sobbing, “You see, that’s what’s become of you. You’re surrounded by negative opinions, dismayed looks and mocking faces, people, who dislike you, and all because you don’t listen to the advice of your own better half.”

Believe me, I’d like to listen, but it doesn’t work, because if I’m quiet and serious, everyone thinks I’m putting on a new act and I have to save myself with a joke, and then I’m not even talking about my own family, who assume I must be sick, stuff me with aspirins and sedatives, feel my neck and forehead to see if I have a temperature, ask about my bowel movements and berate me for being in a bad mood, until I just can’t keep it up anymore, because when everybody starts hovering over me, I get cross, then sad, and finally end up turning my heart inside g out, the bad part on the outside and the good part on the inside, and keep trying to find a way to become what I’d like to be and what I could be if… if only there were no other people in the world.

Yours, Anne M. Frank


July 30th, 2014

What I’ve learned, during the last thirty-five, forty years, is that: I make gloves and they sell shoes.

Robert Altman


July 30th, 2014

Music which combines logic with surprise, sunshine with rain.

John Peel


July 30th, 2014

I’m glad [psilocybin mushrooms] are against the law, ’cause you know what happened when I took them? I laid in a field of green grass for four hours, going: “My god, I love everything.” The heavens parted, god looked down and rained gifts of forgiveness onto my being, healing me on every level – psychically, physically, emotionally – and I realised that our true nature is spirit, not body, that we are eternal beings and god’s love is unconditional and there is nothing we can ever do to change that – it is only our illusion that we are separate from god or that we are alone – in fact, the reality is, we are one with god and he loves us.

Now, if that isn’t a hazard to this country … do you see my point? How are we gonna keep building nuclear weapons? You know what i mean? What’s gonna happen to the arms industry when we realise we are all one? That’s gonna fuck up the economy! The economy that’s fake anyway! Which would be a real bummer. You can see why the government is cracking down on the idea of experiencing unconditional love.

It’s interesting, the two drugs that are legal, alcohol and cigarettes, two drugs that do absolutely nothing for you whatsoever, and drugs that grow naturally upon this planet, drugs that open your eyes up to make you realise how you are being fucked every day of your life, those drugs are against the law. Wow! Coincidence? I don’t know.

Bill Hicks


June 25th, 2014

I have plenty of people to do things with, I just have no one to do nothing with.

Felicity Green


April 18th, 2014

We were never really born, we will never really die.

Jack Kerouac

More Scrapes

April 14th, 2014