Thursday, February 07, 2008


At the Wellcome Museum’s exhibition on sleep and dreaming, this quote by Hugo Gernsback: ‘Anyone who has a dream should see a doctor.’ Also a cover from one of Mr Gernsback’s magazines showing an editor inside a kind of giant, electrified bed-spring supposed to banish sleep, so that the editor could work on even more inspiring magazines 24/7. In the permanent exhibition, Darwin’s walking stick, topped with a miniature carved skull with emerald eyes, no doubt capable of shooting out evo-devo rays should any henchmen of the Bishop of Oxford menace him.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

There Are Doors (4)

One of the butcher shops in the General Market Building at the Farringdon Road end of Smithfield Market, part of the new market built by Horace Jones in 1851-66. It has been empty for several years as conservationists and developers argue about its fate; in three months, the planning authorities will decide if it will be redeveloped, or demolished and replaced by the usual steel and glass office block. Meanwhile, it moulders on, as if in a post-apocalytic city whose inhabitants have long deserted it.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Space Cowboy

One of the muscians covered by Tony Russell’s most excellent Country Music Originals, The Legends and the Lost, is a cowboy singer with the splendid name of Jules Verne Allen. He was born in 1883, so it’s quite possible that his parents were fans of Verne; the novels for which Verne is remembered today were all published before 1880. For the life of me, I can’t think of anyone else named after a writer of science fiction or scientific romance; after characters, yes (there must be plenty of forty-year-olds whose hippy parents named them Bilbo or Gandalf), but writers?
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