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Latest blogposts

 

The bloody-minded Brits

So THAT’S why we did it! I love the Financial Times Weekend edition in all its pink businessy glory. (No, I’m not getting paid to write this, although I wouldn’t say no to a weekly column.) Speaking as a chronically strapped-for-cash writer of historical novels, who knows very little about finance, business or economics, the FT is my window on a strange exotic world full of corporations, hedge funds and commodities, a world where meta-money and financial derivatives not only exist but seem to have offspring, a world with completely different customs and rules to the one I inhabit. Also…

Introducing the Lady Gaia… (a.k.a the Earth planetary organism)

The Gaia hypothesis is 43 years old, if we count from the article by James Lovelock and Sidney Epton in New Scientist in February 1975. Lovelock’s popular book “Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth” came out in 1979 – when I read it and was intoxicated by it. This is a scientific hypothesis which is still causing controversy. Some say that the earth’s feedback loops mean that all life on earth can be seen as part of a gigantic planetary organism. The way that the atmosphere has stayed stable for a couple of billion years while containing highly…

“The Stripping of the Altars” by Eamon Duffy

First he rebuilds for us the way the English Medieval churches worked, packed tight with altars, figures of saints, rich reliquaries (caskets) for alleged saints’ bones and teeth, elaborate roodscreens to hide the high altar, paintings and jewelled and embroidered banners. Churches must have looked like the Room of Requirement at Hogwarts! Each of the astonishing number of sacred things had its use and meaning, its symbolism and its story, now mostly forgotten. Many of them were “apotropaic” – a word I had to look up which means “supposedly having the power to avert evil influences or bad luck.” [Oxford…

 

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