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Ten reasons to like Turkey

Let’s celebrate.  We’re going through a ghastly coronavirus crisis.  But we should not forget that the world is wonderful.  I thought I would write in praise of several countries I’ve lived in.

Here are ten things to like about Turkey, where I lived from 2012-2016.

1.  Istanbul is one of the most ancient and spectacular cities on earth.  Here’s me by the Golden Horn.

2.  Turks are crazy about fresh fish.  Here’s a chap delivering some to a restaurant.

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Coronavirus Vienna

When I lived in Istanbul from 2012-16, people often asked me whether I was concerned about terrorist attacks, crime or civil disturbance.

At the end of my walk on 29 March, with wild boar effigy

‘No,’ I would say.  ‘The thing I’m most worried about is being knocked down by a taxi or motorcycle as I try to cross the street.’

Istanbul taxis are famed for their driving style

The same is true in Vienna, in the coronavirus pandemic.  I’m doing what I can to avoid catching the virus: working from home, observing the social distancing rules and so on. My fear is that, as I try to avoid other pedestrians on narrow pavements, or cross unusually empty streets, my concentration will slip and I’ll become a traffic accident. (more…)

Middlemarch is the book for #Coronavirus: 25 epigrams

What to do, when you are stuck at home because of the #coronavirus outbreak?

Read Middlemarch, by George Eliot.

George Eliot’s real name was Mary Ann Evans, 1819-1880

I read Middlemarch recently and posted on its wisdom about sex and relationships (links in bold italics are to other posts on this site).

Middlemarch is also full of splendid epigrams.  Here are 25 beauties which caught my eye: (more…)

“Vintage Season” – a blog for a coronavirus outbreak

“Three people came up the walk to the old mansion just at dawn on a perfect May morning.  Oliver Wilson in his pajamas watched them from an upper window through a haze of conflicting emotions, resentment predominant.  He didn’t want them there.  They were foreigners.”

Thus begins one of my favourite classic science fiction stories, Vintage Season, published in Astounding Science Fiction in 1946.

It all feels a bit 2020.

C L Moore is one of the husband and wife team who wrote “Vintage Season” but is often credited with being the main author

Vintage Season is about how a man living in the present meets a curiously prosperous and perfect-seeming group of people who turn out to be from the future.  They play him a kind of music – a work of art which transcended all art forms – with imagery of historic disasters. (more…)

How to be happy

In these coronavirus days, it’s worth recalling how to be happy.  I’m going out to dinner tonight, so this might be my last chance.

I’m prompted by a BBC report from 2019, which suggested five things you could do:

  1.  Make a list of the things you are grateful for.
  2. Sleep more.
  3. Meditate, or do something which engages your full attention.
  4. Spend more time with family and friends.
  5. Get off social media (except this blog).

Me being happy with friends from Deep Purple – who also have some happiness secrets. My post at the link includes pix of Deep Purple in Kyiv

One thing not on the list, but contained in the piece, is that being happy requires a conscious effort.  As Professor Laurie Santos says: “Being happy isn’t something that just happens, you’ve got to practice to be better at it.”

How can you practice being happier?  One way is by following some of the advice in these “how to be happy” posts – some of my most popular entries:

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From Herr to Maternity

By Robert Pimm

Financial Times, May 9, 2003

I’m picking up the kids from school here in Berlin when a teacher accosts me. “Started being a house-husband yet?” he says. “How do you like ironing all those shirts?”

“Pamela was never a housewife,” I say. Am I being too defensive?  “And she never ironed my shirts.”

“How about the vacuum-cleaning?” He has that look in his eye. Does not compute.

“Nope. Mostly, it’s looking after the kids. And I cook.”

“Why not get an au pair? Find yourself a job?”

“The whole point is that I’m with the children. So Pamela can go back to work knowing it’s me looking after them.”

Standing there in the corridor, with kids swarming around him like ants, the teacher shakes his head. “I hope you know what you’re doing.”

In the garden in Berlin, 2003

What I’m doing is this: in October 2002 (more…)

Great Vienna bars: Aurora at Andaz Belvedere

Which rooftop bar in Vienna has:

  • outstanding cocktails
  • the best view in Vienna
  • total coolness?

Here’s a clue:

Here are some reasons I like the Aurora rooftop bar at Hyatt’s fancy new Andaz Vienna am Belvedere:

  • I am picky about cocktails.  The Aurora has a terrific Nordic-themed cocktail menu.  My favourite is the “Berserker’s Punch” (white rum, overproof rum, orange, coconut, pineapple, lemon, milk, and a cola lolly).  To be honest, I can’t see or taste any milk in it.  I advise against drinking too many of these;

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