Monday, December 31, 2012


So the year ends with my somehow being awarded an MBE in the Queen's New Year's Honours List for "services to cultural interests in China". Who'd have thought? Feels strange, a bit embarrassing (especially telling people and posting this), but nice - especially the well-wishes and a lovely phone call from Mary & Andrew.
Actually, I was informed three weeks ago when my Director called me into her office. I thought I'd done something wrong but turned out to be quite the opposite. Asked whether I wanted to accept it, it didn't occur to me to say no (although plenty have, including John Lydon and David Bowie).  
So a summer trip to Buckingham Palace beckons. And the really nice thing is that Liz and the girls get to go too. And there's the chance we might get to meet a couple of my heroes, Kate Bush and Richard Long (both CBEs). 
One last thing. In the very long list of names, we came across Liz's cousin, Michael Cyril Truran, who got an OBE "for voluntary services to Bioscience". So it's a double family celebration. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Mk3

Turkey dinner postponed from yesterday - and a fabulous feast it was too. Aside from Liz's great efforts in the kitchen, it was otherwise a relaxing day at home, all of us pottering contentedly - me reading a book pretty much cover-to-cover while listening to music - see below.


As 2012 draws to a close, I have been made aware - through reading Pat Long's book, The History of the NME, this weekend - that it is the 60th anniversary of my one-time favourite music paper... which is still going. Just. 
Didn't know anything about its Tin Pan Alley early years (it arose from the Accordion Times of all things), but from the mid-70s to mid-80s I was an avid reader. It seems amazing now, but there were four weekly music papers then: NME, Melody Maker, Sounds and Record Mirror - and I would usually read, if not buy, all of them. 
Pre-punk, I didn't really clock the journalists' names (which would have included Charles Shaar Murray, Nick Kent and Ian MacDonald), but by the late 70s under Neil Spencer's editorship,  the paper was awash with hip, young journos like Julie Burchill and Tony Parsons, the often-pretentious-but-always-interesting Paul Morley and Ian Penman, and other more readable writers like Danny Baker, Don Watson, Chris Bohn, Barney Hoskyns et al. 
There was an allure about being a rock writer then: free albums, gigs, flying to New York to interview some band maybe, but really just to see your name in print. I remember taking a rickety lift to their 3rd floor office on Carnaby Street (opposite Smash Hits) in February 1984 to ask ask their reviews editor, Mat Snow, if I could send in some stuff - and duly scribbled a short live review of a Legendary Pink Dots / Konstruktivists gig. But in the end I wrote freelance - sporadically - for Sounds for two or three years. Interestingly, both Mat Snow and Don Watson have ended up working for the British Council - Mat for a short while a couple of years back, Don still with us.
The late 70s era is powerfully nostalgic, partly because I was an impressionable teenager and there was so much great music then, but also because papers like the NME were the only source of information. I still have box files of cuttings from that time.
Sounds, Melody Maker and Record Mirror have long since folded (if you'll forgive the pun), and the NME is a shadow of its former self, with a circulation of 25,000 (compared with 300,000 during Beatlemania and 150,000 in the late 70s), their journos anonymous, and its style chatty, frivolous and not-like-Derrida. But the website apparently does well.  

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Mk2

Presents... delayed from the day in question in Bangkok. We went easy this year. No bicycles, scooters, MP3 players and the likes. Desperately holding out against iProducts for 8 & 10-year-olds, but the day will come when they expect or need them. But not yet. So, if not exactly wooden toys and a spinning top, they got books, games and chocolate. And seemed quite content with them.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Ghost Office

Back to work, briefly. That strange period between Christmas and New Year when the office is like the Mary Celeste. No meetings. Lots of work done. 
Incidentally, this month is the 140th anniversary of the discovery of that famous ghost ship, adrift in the Atlantic, in good working order, cargo intact, but its 10 crew & passengers nowhere to be found. What happened to them?  Lots of theories - mutiny, piracy, abandonment after being overcome by vapours from its barrels of alcohol, even abduction by aliens while in the Bermuda Triangle - but none very convincing. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Closing (Slightly Delayed)

As 2012 draws to a close, it's tempting to look back. Needless to say, the Olympics were a very definite highlight - even if I missed most of it (Opening Ceremony excepted). Happily, Santa got me the 5xDVD Best Of, and this evening I watched - and Liz & the girls re-watched, fairly willingly - the Closing Ceremony for the first time. 
It was OK, not a patch on Danny Boyle's opener, but it had its moments. This is embarrassing, but before the games I'd never heard of One Direction, Ed Sheeran, Emeli Sandé, Jessie J, Tinie Tempah or Taio Cruz, nor did I know that Liam Gallagher had a band called Beady Eye. Must be getting old... And I still don't get Russell Brand. Nor why Annie Lennox is always wheeled out on this type of occasion. On the other hand, I surprised myself by enjoying the Spice Girls on their taxis, and Muse, but the rest rushed by like so much YouTube. Shame that Bowie and Bush couldn't be persuaded; the latter's Running Up That Hill was a highlight, even without her. Tomorrow I might even get around to watching the sport. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

+33C to -15C

Nice to see Goon, our one-time maid. (Still sounds funny to say that, like we were aristocrats or something). She seems fine, working for an American family. Then off to Lucy & Iain's for a Boxing Day lunch, complete with Lucy's visiting parents - as guests not dishes. So nice to wear shorts & T-shirts the whole time; girls running around in the garden; sun on our backs. I miss this. But sadly it's off to the airport and the 4-hour flight back to Beijing... where it is -15C - and into/under several layers of pyjamas & blankets by 2.30am.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas without the Myna Birds

An unusual Christmas Day. Away from home; no presents (aside from girls' stockings), no traditional  meal, no TV, not even a film, and definitely no snow. However, there was Christmas mass at the cathedral by the river followed by and a light lunch at the Oriental Hotel, which is pretty much our favourite hotel in the world - though we've never stayed there. I've posted about its history before so won't go on about it, other than to say that, aside from the regular rooms, its 35 suites are individually decorated (no two alike) and at Christmas each has its own real tree, decorated to complement the decor. But there have been three departures since we last visited: Kurt Wachtveitl, the 45-year long General Manager, and the hotel's two myna birds.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Old Haunts

The old haunts: Lumphini Park (where I almost trod on a monitor lizard - and this was a baby one), riding pillion to Siam Square, cheapo lunch in the university canteen under the BC office, coffee with Mark in Paragon, browsing in Kinokuniya bookstore, i-spy in traffic jams, and finishing off with dinner at our old neighbourhood fave, Lido. It's still run by the same people: the Italian guy, his tiny daughter and the ladyboy waiter/ress. And what did we have? Roast turkey. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Truth about Santa

Back in Bangkok. Same as ever. Visited our Kashmiri/Japanese friends Jaqoob & Asako, leaving Alyssa there for a sleepover with her one-time best friend Marika. Which left Liz, Naomi and I to experience the delights of last-minute Christmas shopping at Central Chitlom. Not my favourite pursuit, but one has to appreciate the abundance, attraction & quality of western product - books, clothes, food, toys - after the still-limited fayre of Beijing.
Over dinner, Naomi asked me for the truth about Santa. I managed to skirt around it ("I'm not sure", "I'd like to think he's real", What do you think?" etc) which seemed to satisfy her and we promptly bought a mince pie & miniature brandy for him plus a carrot for his reindeer. "Where do you think he'll park the sleigh?", I asked. "On the balcony of course!"

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Quit Dreaming and Get on the Beam

We decided to head back to our original resort for another fun-packed day with the Swedes, so walked a mile or so along the beach. Along the way, Liz and Alyssa spotted something rather unpleasant. "Watch out, it's a dead dog and porcupine" - which is a great name for a pub. On closer inspection, it was indeed a dead dog, but the spikey thing was some sort of sea anenome. A little further on, a gang of people were clearing a week's worth of beach detritus. It's amazing what gets washed up, even on this relatively unspoiled stretch. 
Anyway, we had a wonderfully relaxing time with Fredrik, Wivica, Felicia and Tilde, playing yet more cards, a bit of football, walking along two parallel bamboo beams, and of course swimming in the blissful sea - while keeping a lookout for dogs and porcupines. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Apocalypse Not

Today the Mayan calendar came to 'an end'. But aliens haven't invaded, Earth hasn't collided with Planet Nibiru and it looks like today will be pretty much like any other... except in Mexico as new age geeks and doomsday freaks flock to a number of temples to celebrate global destruction at its source.
Earlier this year, an Ipsos poll of 16,000 adults in 21 countries found that 8% had experienced anxiety over the possibility of the world ending today. Interestingly, it was as high as 20% in China, possibly because of the mega-successful 2012 film (which was partly set in China). But the biggest worry has been gatherings of a wacko doomsday sect who call themselves Almighty God. Honestly, China's becoming more like the States every day.
The only adverse affect we felt was having to move to another, not-so-nice resort a mile or two down the road and I've got an ear pressure problem from diving into the pool. But I'll live.  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tintin on the Couch

The trouble with literary criticism - he said, starting a piece of literary criticism - is that one can easily analyse a thing to death, eeking out symbolism, metaphor and allegory where the author probably created nothing of the sort. Today I read Tom McCarthy's Tintin and the Secret of Literature which psychoanalyses Herge's oeuvre to within an inch of its life. Some of it's fun and revealing: the stuff on characterization, subplots and Herge's right-to-left politics is spot on. 
But when McCarthy starts quoting Barthes, Baudelaire, Bataille, Balzac (and others not necessarily beginning with B), and goes on about the symbolism of tombs, Captain Haddock's relationship to Louis XIV and Tintin as "the avatar of the secret whose possibility guarantees the possibility of literature" (eh?), then he's lost me.
Mind you, McCarthy knows his stuff and it's clear he's a fan. And although ridiculous, the Freudian interpretation of The Castafiore Emerald in a chapter called Castafiore's Clit has to make you smile. Interestingly, McCarthy declines to suggest that Tintin is gay (as many others have done), preferring to concentrate on more lofty matters like his politics. (As an aside, I have two interesting bootleg books on both issues: the seedy Tintin in Thailand, which doesn't need describing, and the deeply political Breaking Free in which Tintin is an anarchist in south-east London).
But being the huge Tintin fan that I am - I have all the books, DVDs, T-shirts, mugs, key-rings, fridge magnets, you name it - I prefer him adventurous and neutral. And it is this persona, free from the forensics of Freud, that I am foisting on my children. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Searching for Eldorado

A few metres from our log-cabin porch is jungle. OK, perhaps jungle is stretching it a bit, but there's a lot of foliage and at night time it is loud with insects. I've just finished a book by David Grann called The Lost City of Z about Percy Harrison Fawcett, among the last of the great Victorian explorers. For years he explored the Amazon and came to believe that its jungle concealed a large, complex civilization, like Eldorado, which he called Z. Like many before him - not least the Spanish conquistadors - his quest became an obsession and he became quite possibly unhinged. He disappeared, with his son Jack and his friend Raleigh, in the Upper Xingu area of Brazil in 1925.
Fawcett's escapades inspired Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World (1912), and countless other fables, from Herge's Tintin and the Broken Ear to Herzog's Aguirre: Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo, and from Pixar's Up to the fourth Indiana Jones film.
Years after his disappearance, people thought he was still alive, either held prisoner or gone native. There were various expeditions to rescue him. But it's almost certain he and the two young men were killed by native Indians.
And what of Z? Interestingly, it appears that he was right. There was a 'city' in the area where he disappeared, but it had existed roughly between 500-1600AD. The German archaeologist Michael Heckenberger has spent years uncovering moats, palisades, roads, pottery etc. It was called Kuhikugu. Its possible demise may be attributed to Europeans arriving with smallpox and other diseases. Poor old Fawcett - so near yet so far.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Star

One of the great things about our little beach resort is that there are limited things to do. We can walk along the beach, swim, eat, play cards, and chat with other guests (tonight it's the turn of a nice Swedish family)... But there are no adventures into the wilds or forays into temples, we pass on snorkeling and squid fishing, there's not even a town. Which leaves plenty of time for reading and thinking.
A year ago, we were on this same beach, mourning my mum's death 6,000 miles away. This evening we looked up at the stars, thousands of them, and Naomi said, "Look, there's Granny Jean's star". We'd assigned it to her then, and she'd remembered. It was the brightest and remains so. But it's the twinkle that really singles it out.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Cosmic Vibes

Our arrival last night coincided with a weird feng shui gathering. The hotel was packed, with the conference spilling out into the lobby, corridors and an exhibition space full of strange-looking stones displayed in glass cabinets. People would go up to them and hold out their hands in the hope of attracting cosmic energy. 
Anyway, this morning our trusty taxi driver, Kun Kantapong, picked us up and took us... back to the airport. According to tradition, we post all our Christmas cards & parcels (three sackfulls of them) from this tiny little post-office in the Departures lounge. I don't think they knew what had hit them.
After that, a five hour drive down the Thai isthmus to our regular beach resort. Beginning to unwind already.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Long Walk or a Big Fib?

Off on our hols. As we fly from freezing Beijing to hot Bangkok, so I'm reading a book by an ex-Polish soldier, Slavomir Rawicz, about an incredible journey by a group of escaped prisoners from a Siberian gulag in 1941. They walked through the feeezing tigra, across Mongolia, into the Gobi desert where two of them died, across north-western China and into Tibet, where two more died, and finally over the Himalayas to India.
It's a harrowing tale and ends very abruptly. I wanted to find out what happened to him and the four other survivors in the intervening years but apart from a brief blurb that Rawicz moved to England, there's no real postscript. A quick google revealed that his story is extremely suspect. One source says that he was actually released by the Soviets in 1942; another says that the story is true but that it was about someone else. You'd think that, in this day and age, proof could be found to determine the truth, but it seems not. In any event, I also found out that Peter Weir made a film about it called The Way Back, in 2010. All in all, a rather disappointing conclusion to what otherwise was a cracking tale.   

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Frosty the Snowman

This afternoon, the girls and I - with a little help from Zed & Za next door - made a fantastic snowman. It was a classic. Bit taller than them, with a hat & scarf, tangerine nose, some buttons, a couple of emaciated branches-as-arms, and a twig fashioned into a smile. We then threw snowballs at each other. Perfect.  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

It's Over

And so UK Now comes to an end. After 200+ events in 160 venues in 29 cities over 257 days involving 776 artists & performers and attracting (physical) audiences of over 4m, to say nothing of the digital stats… it’s over.
We ended with a one-day forum about – wait for it – the value of arts festivals, chaired by Jonathan Mills, Director of Edinburgh International Festival, with speakers from UK and China and a keynote address from British Council CEO, Martin Davidson. It looked at how festivals can promote a country or a city to physical audiences via real events, as well as to much wider audiences through digital channels. 
Nigel Hinds talked about London 2012 and Peter Florence about Hay; we learned about Chengdu Biennial, Hong Kong Arts Festival and the legacy of Shanghai Expo; and then a raft of digital platforms which called into question the whole meaning of “festival”. Given that the British Council is now re-embracing them – in China, Brazil, Australia, Qatar, Russia and South Africa – then it was all very appropriate. 
The Forum gave way to a pretty packed reception and then a modest party and then that was it. Except that it isn't. There's the book to finish and evaluation and deciding what to do with the website and mopping up the finances... But at least there are no more events to organize. I wish I could say something profound and conclusive, but there are no more words, just sleep.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Lots of prep for tomorrow's UK Now closing event, and to add a little more chaos to the proceedings, it's snowing. As we crawled to the airport to pick up the British speakers, we had a 5mph prang as our car gracefully glided into the back of an SUV... which delayed us a little but nothing compared to the flights. Still, at least everyone's got here and Beijing is functioning. Perhaps it's the right type of snow. 
Managed to squeeze in Naomi's Christmas show at school, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas - a medley of carols, poems and Shakin' Stevens. She sang her heart out while simultaneously trying to act cool. So arrived a little late for a dinner with the speakers and then preparing event stuff until midnight. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Maid in Berlin

Interesting. Liz got home, surprised to hear music being played in the flat. And not just any music. Our ayi's been cleaning to Ashra's Blackouts.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Today is when all the Nobel Laureates annually turn up in Oslo to receive their Prizes. But who was Alfred Nobel?  Turns out he was a Swedish inventor & chemist who died on this day in 1896, leaving a huge sum of money to set up the Prizes for contributions to Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and Peace. This was back in the days when Sweden & Norway were one country. Swedish institutes still administer the first four prizes,while a Norwegian one takes care of the Peace one. Ironically, Mr Nobel invented dynamite and owned a huge armaments factory, before realising the error of his ways? This year the Peace Prize went to the European Union. The ballroom must have been packed.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Patrick Moore RIP

Patrick Moore died today, aged 89, at his home in Selsey, a sleepy little seaside village a few miles from my home town of Chichester. Apart from being Britain's best known amateur astronomer and presenter of the world's longest-running-with-the-same-original-presenter (55 years) TV series, The Sky at Nighthe was also a keen cricketer, writer, chess player and composer. I remember him performing a xylophone version of Anarchy in the UK at a Royal Variety Performance. I also remember him giving a talk at our school and occasionally you'd see him shopping in Chichester. But the nearest I got to him was sharing a hospital waiting room, me clutching a fractured finger, he nursing some undefined ailment. He was huge.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Alice on Pointe

So, after 12 weeks of hard work at On Pointe Dance Studios on Sunday afternoons, Alyssa & Naomi performed in a two-hour version of Alice in Wonderland at the huge American school theatre out in Shunyi. Naomi did a jazz-dance opener to the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, while Alyssa did a ballet piece after the Queen of Hearts' croquet game. They were great. And full marks to the their teacher, Chloe Brydges, who not only choreographed 30 separate sections, but also produced the whole show. I don't know how she did it. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Strange Course of The Blue Nile

I'm reading a book (by Allan Brown) about The Blue Nile - the band not the river. It's funny how they've become this cult group par excellence. To become a cult I suppose you have to have huge gaps between albums (unless you're Nurse With Wound or your lead singer commits suicide), and The Blue Nile qualify on that score. Formed in 1981, they took three years to record their debut, A Walk Across the Rooftops (1984), followed by a gap of five years till Hats (1989), seven years till Peace at Last (1996) and eight years till High (2004). Which means that the next should be around next year. But don't hold your breath. 
Their following isn't huge, but it is devoted. I've never seen them live, but people speak of their concerts in semi-religious tones. For me, their first two albums are exquisite - dreamy, romantic, grand, spacious, passionate, measured (yet somehow still 'alternative') examples of pop music. 
But then they lost it. They could/should have been huge, but there's something wilfully, beguilingly perverse about them. The fact that their two early classics were released by Linn, a local hi-fi company who'd never released a record before, perhaps says it all. I can't imagine the three of them living in LA, which they did for a while in the early 90s. Nor can I imagine Paul Buchannon going out with Rosanna Arquette, also in LA (where else?). 
Anyway, while we wait for another album (which probably won't come), there's a solo album, Mid-Air, by Buchannon. It's nice, reserved, but not essential. The book's great though.    

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Morbid Movies

Terence Davies's The Deep Blue Sea opened our British Film Week tonight. We'd invited the director and his manager/partner but there was a visa cock-up and in the end neither made it, which was annoying, but c'est la vie. So we had some drinks, vol-au-vents and speeches before settling down to watch the film, which was fabulous on period detail and great performance by Rachel Weisz... but all-in-all I found it rather slight and certainly depressing. Couldn't really feel for any of the characters, and we had a bad 35mm print, full of scratches, the occasional flare and a few drop-outs... unless they were part of the period detail (!?). 
Still, we've got lots of other films to cheer us up. Tomorrow is Dreams of a Life, about a young Londoner, Joyce Carol Vincent, who died alone in her bedsit and wasn't discovered until two years later; Senna, about the F1 racing driver who of course was killed in the line of duty; the newly restored version of Hitchcock's The Lodger about a woman-killer in London; Andrea Arnold's reassuringly bleak version of Wuthering Heights... 
Hang on, don't we have any happy films?!  Yes, we do, both about submarines - one literally (the digitally restored version of Yellow Submarine), the other metaphorically (Richard Ayoade's Submarine, starring Craig Roberts). Well that's all right then.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Back in the late 80s / early 90s I used to vaguely know the people at Pentagram. I don't think I ever worked with them on a project, but probably invited them to pitch for one, or went to their office or something, I think when Theo Crosby and Alan Fletcher were still around. Crosby died in 1994, Fletcher just a few years ago. They were, still are, a great design company.
Anyway, I'm still on their mailing list and today received #42 of their occasional Pentagram Papers series. They're nice little booklets about quirky subjects, produced to remind people they're still around, still doing inventive things. This one's a series of poems by, and portraits of, Texan cowboys. So let's hear it for Blue Nall: "I used to have a full head of hair that would make you swoon. I would walk into bars and turn women's heads; still do, but for a totally different reason".

Monday, December 3, 2012

Wolfe+585, Senior

This afternoon I met a certain Dr Maria Joao Rodrigues de Araujo, a Research Fellow from Oxford University. With a name like that she has to be Portuguese (though could have been Brazilian). Why are Portuguese names so long?  It is not uncommon that a married woman has two given names and six surnames, two from her mother's family, two from her father's family and the last two coming from her husband. Plus there's the occasional 'de' thrown in. 
But all this is nothing compared with the world record holding Adolph Blaine Charles David Earl Frederick Gerald Hubert Irvin John Kenneth Lloyd Martin Nero Oliver Paul Quincy Randolph Sherman Thomas Uncas Victor William Xerxes Yancy Zeus Wolfe­schlegelstein­hausenberger­dorffvoraltern­waren­gewissenhaft­schaferswessen­schafewaren­wohlgepflege­und­sorgfaltigkeit­beschutzen­von­angreifen­durch­ihrraubgierigfeinde­welche­voraltern­zwolftausend­jahres­vorandieerscheinen­wander­ersteer­dem­enschderraumschiff­gebrauchlicht­als­sein­ursprung­von­kraftgestart­sein­lange­fahrt­hinzwischen­sternartigraum­auf­der­suchenach­diestern­welche­gehabt­bewohnbar­planeten­kreise­drehen­sich­und­wohin­der­neurasse­von­verstandigmen­schlichkeit­konnte­fortplanzen­und­sicher­freuen­anlebens­langlich­freude­und­ruhe­mit­nicht­ein­furcht­vor­angreifen­von­anderer­intelligent­geschopfs­von­hinzwischen­sternartigraum, Senior (746 letters), also known as Wolfe+585, Senior. When asked, er, "why?", the German-born American replied: "I don't like being part of the common herd." He was, appropriately, a typesetter! He died in 1985, but there is a son, still living, called...  That's enough!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Man who Loved China

Reading Simon Winchester's biography of Joseph Needham, The Man Who Loved China. He was a Cambridge academic, specialising in biochemistry and would probably have stayed that way had he not met another biochemist, Lu Gwei-djen, who'd arrived in England from China in 1937. From then on he became obsessed with China: its language, its culture and above all its long long history of inventions. 
Towards the end of WW2 he was invited to go there (funnily enough by the fledgling British Council, which had set up an office in the then capital, Chongqing; he was kind of - unofficially - its first representative). His job was to visit hundreds of deprived, war-damaged universities and supply them with scientific equipment. And while there he began researching his magnum opus, the many volumed Science and Civilisation of ChinaAfter the war he helped set up UNESCO (he was responsible for the S in the middle), got into a scrape during the anti-Commie McCarthy years and continued with his never-ending book. Indeed, it hasn't ended. Needham died in 1995 but others have picked up the baton. Interesting story, well-told by another man who loves China.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Coffee Culture

Another day in Xiamen, starting with a coffee festival of all things. Apart from pianos, the city likes to think it has a coffee heritage, and certainly there are many tiny independent coffee shops here which also ply records and books, those two essentials ingredients for coffee culture. There's obviously a massive irony at play here that has brought me to the home of tea (the first exports to Britain were from here) in order to understand what a barista is and does, but it was fascinating and really great to see an event aimed at empowering local enterprises. Starbucks weren't invited.
Aside from that, Duncan gave a talk in a busy pedestrian shopping centre, and then a gig in a lovely cafe perched on a hill at the end of a winding lane near where we did yesterday's Subtlemob. Very cool neighbourhood - reminded me of Tokyo's Omotesando or Seoul's Samcheong-dong.  I like Duncan's music, which is as subtle as his mobs - gently processed washes of electronic sound from a laptop with a couple of effects pads.