Ain't the winter days long and dreary? Come and join this mini-tour of Trafalgar Square at its summer best....crowds of people...fountains playing....pigeons....National Gallery....trees....Neslon's Column....St Martin's Church....!
Research by the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute has revealed that between 7-19 per cent of adults in the US do not get enough sleep. Illnesses caused by lack of sleep include obesity, diabetes and heart disease, while up to 1.2 million work days are lost every year, costing the economy about 2% of GDP. In the UK, the economic loss from lack of sleep hits a similar figure. In addition, experts reckon that lack of sleep is behind numerous driving accidents and heinous mistakes at work. Left unchecked, a chronically sleepy subject is prone to a number of mental disorders, including depression. If you think that you need to catch up on sleep, the only remedy is to – that’s right. The key to a healthy mind is not, it seems, sitting on top of an Asian mountain, drinking yak’s milk as bells ring and monks chant mantras. Nope; you simply (a) switch off light, (b) put head on pillow and (c) close eyes, all as a prelude to eight hours in the land of nod - and not just occasionally, but every night. If you have trouble getting enough sleep, follow my getting to sleep guide, just published on Hub Pages. Sweet dreams.
Change is a good thing; we all have to move on and this time of year is as good as any to ring out the old and usher in the new. So, it was with optimism that I ventured – following many years of absence – into the “new” Brown Thomas store on Dublin’s Grafton Street. The “new” store occupies a site across the street from the former site, which is alright. Like I said, we all have to move on. But once inside, my optimistic anticipation turned from surprise to disappointment to disgruntlement to despair. Yes, I know that upmarket stores are slowly abandoning art nouveau and art deco references in favour of LED-outlined mirror panels. And I know that formal hierarchies of management are as obsolete as the harsh, right-angled counters that have now dissolved into touchy-feely, user-friendly product display “pods”. What floored me was the disappearance of the panopticon-like atrium, the glorious see-all-at-a-view configuration, whether from ground level or mezzanine balcony. In the old days, only bargains belonged to the basement, my dear, but now, the entire store is a nightmare crystal maze of tunnels and caverns. I wandered lost and lonely through a labyrinth lined with designer handbags, sunglasses and sports’ shoes. Feeling as out of place as Will Ferrell in every movie he has ever been in – especially THAT one – I watched children purchasing said goods from other children that were dressed up as sales’ personnel. Finally, I crumbled and asked for directions to the ladies’ bathroom. To be fair, the resident elves were sweet, friendly and very helpful – but it took no fewer than three separate briefings to direct me to the site of my focus, and I exited the store as soon as possible afterwards – sorry, BT, no profit from me. I get that Brown Thomas is now an emporium for well-to-do youth, but my question is: are there no shopping havens left for stuffy old traditionalists like me? The classical, grid-based store layout had its downside, but at least it enabled the customer a degree of independence in moving about – and gave the personnel a few square feet of private space during work hours. I wish the “new” Brown Thomas every success – and a Happy New Year to all..
With its festive trimmings, ritual meal and family gathering, Christmas is a topsy-turvy time, when the daily norms are subverted and chronological punctuation vanishes into an ether of twinkling lights and discarded wrapping paper. No doubt Charles Dickens sensed this tock-ticking when he wrote his seminal A Christmas Carol, the story of Ebenezer Scrooge who was haunted by the ghosts of his erstwhile business partner and his past, present and future distilled into three spirits warning him to change his miserly ways – or else. The subversion of time came home to me at seven o’clock a few mornings ago, when a little girl's voice commanded me to get out of bed and help her hang baubles on a Christmas tree….well, ‘tis the season of goodwill. Dazed with early morning confusion, I struggled with the perplexities of stringing a thousand – it seemed – silver and gold, red and rose-coloured gilt balls on an already over-decorated fir. Time will come when I will weep with the delicious memory of it all, when the ghosts of my past Christmases will hover around, fingers a-wagging as they relate how I did not appreciate it all. Wherever you are and whoever you are with, have a wonderful, wonderful time.
The idea for a book combining colour theory and Greek mythology, which has always held my fascination, occurred to me just over two years ago.I have now launched Mythical Colouring. The majority of colouring books provide colour enthusiasts with patterns for essays into pure colour. However, even imagination requires a helping hand when matching and contrasting shades. The introductory notes and the guidelines that accompany every story serve as a springboard for the aspiring colourist.
Each story consists of two images, an A4-sized image and a smaller – though enlarged - detail from that image. Many enthusiasts may prefer to experiment on this detail before moving on to the full-sized picture. I have also provided blank squares at the outset of the book for pure colour experimentation.
Beginning with the story of a prehistoric deluge, the reader is taken through a montage of scenes from the lexicon of Greek mythology that include the pastoral worlds of Hyperion and Endymion, to the subterranean realm of Medea and the adventures of Hercules. In the accompanying guidelines, I explain how to attain the requisite atmosphere through the use of colour, and reminding the enthusiast that he or she is free to experiment.