Monday, January 23, 2017

Quantum politics


Even before the protagonist of the television series Breaking Bad took the Heisenberg alias, the viewer either knew where he stands (how he feels about something), or what he is doing (or planning to do), but never both! 

This seems to me to have a remarkable real-world resonance. Conjugate variables and Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle may well be topics high on the agenda at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Hohenzollernstrasse 110 in Munich, just 150 metres from my flat, was home to the eminent physicist in the 1920s.

Werner Heisenberg was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for 1932 ‘for the creation of quantum mechanics’. He was a principal scientist in the Nazi nuclear weapon project during World War II. Heisenberg had arrived in Munich in 1919 to fight the Bavarian Soviet Republic established a year earlier. Five decades later he recalled those days as youthful fun, like “playing cops and robbers and so on; it was nothing serious at all”. He just might have understood ‘alternative facts’. Or he might have agreed with the Meet The Press interviewer Chuck Todd who rounded on the Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway, and retorted that "Alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods."

Friday, January 20, 2017

Here we go!


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Stand by


Victor Lownes


The man who brought the glamour of the Playboy Club to Park Lane in London in the sixties has passed away. I owed him much in those days. It was at his townhouse off Knightsbridge that I met a bubbly nineteen-year-old who was playing with the notion of becoming a Bunny working at the new club. Instead she became my wife.

Victor also booked the band I was managing at the time for a series of residency engagements which were very correctly remunerated. This was very welcome, given that in short order I would not only have a wife to support, but there was also a baby on the way. When the wee lad arrived it was clear that one of his given names would be Victor.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Liberty redefined


I allowed myself to add text to an illustration from Jean Jullien's wonderful book Modern Life.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Lentil soup


One hesitates to argue with an ex-wife, even one as helpful and amiable (albeit ferociously opinionated) as our daughter's mother. Hence I made no demur when Mickey counselled me to partake of Linsensuppe on Three Kings Day, claiming that adherence to this custom would ensure that there would be no shortage of money in the year ahead. My research hinted that the practice was more often associated with New Year's Day, but never mind... an Epiphany is always welcome!

In this instance, yesterday evening, the step towards enlightenment was the use for the very first time of the electric stove in my mini-kitchen!

In former times I could enjoy my daily meal as dinner served in a restaurant. When a few years back this became no longer an affordable option, I settled easily for a cold collation taken while relaxing in the comforting contours of my precious Genni armchair. However this is not a posture suited to the consumption of a bowl of heated-up tinned soup. I found myself obliged to serve my Linsensuppe at my desk, which felt quite odd.

But it tasted great!

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Writing matters


The various versions of the traditional song ends with mention of lords a'leaping, of pipers piping or of drummers drumming to mark the twelfth and last day of Christmastide. The pious Theophanists confirm that after tomorrow we can return with a sigh of relief to something resembling business as usual.

My hope is that this will see an end of the 'writer's block' that has plagued me since the middle of the Advent season. It could, of course, be that my current work-in-progress was from the outset a non-starter.


Marcus Tullius Cicero asserted that "No one is so old as to think that he cannot live one more year." This moved me to imagine a protagonist about to mark his eightieth birthday and preoccupied by the question of whether the name of the Roman philosopher should be pronounced Kickeroh, Sisseroh or Cheecheroh. I also chose to set my narrative in Abkhazia on the eastern shore of the Black Sea, with flashbacks to the little nation's brutal 1993 war with Georgia. My hope is that I can now return to this seriously complicated story. In the meantime I have not been entirely idle. Updating and editing my lavishly illustrated memoir Nosce te ipsum has kept me quite busy. For a very successful self-publishing colleague (whose Kindle sales I envy) I am also happily undertaking historical research, keeping my hand in as a champion Google-Meister.



Very heartening is the appearance on Amazon (the American site) of a buyer's review of Chance of Reign:

"I really enjoyed this excellent novel. The characters were deep and well developed. Mr Thomson has a vast knowledge of the historical period which gives this book the wonderful detail that makes for great historical fiction!"

How encouraging!

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Och aye...


Prosit Neujahr! Happy 2017!