Where would we be without toys? If we were never allowed to use fascinating objects as springboards for our imaginations, our brains would fail to develop properly. We project ourselves onto toys, explore the world with them, learn with them. We discover cause and effect, relationships, and our own identities through toys. From Ancient Mesopotamia to Toys ‘R’ Us, children have constructed their realities with the help of tangible playthings, either made for them by their parents or made by the children themselves out of what’s lying around.
Today, London’s great clock above the Palace of Westminster will fall silent for up to four years as its chimes are stopped for major restoration work. Its famous ‘bongs’ will not be heard again, except on special occasions, until 2021. For a nation of fastidious timekeepers whose evening news reports on BBC radio and TV traditionally begin with the great clock striking the hour live, this is quite disconcerting news. Some worry who will maintain this national symbol in the future. Will the skills and knowledge of clock maintenance be lost in our digital world?
The credits have rolled at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, with Swedish film The Square winning the Palme d’Or. The Short Film Palme D’Or went to Chinese film A Gentle Night and the top production from a film school student was Paul Is Here by Valentina Maurel from INSAS, Belgium.
The latter prize shows that film students can make a mark on events as prestigious as Cannes while they are still at film school. Good filmmaking is good filmmaking, whatever the director’s background, credentials and budget.
Good writing grabs the reader with the first sentence, keeps them enthralled throughout, and spits them out at the end a changed person. So why isn’t all writing like that? In fact, writing that good is pretty rare, and is written by creative minds at the top of their game and often with a string of publishing credits behind them. The majority of unpublished creative writing is self-indulgent drivel that reeks of inexperience, even though the writer may have felt inspired at the time and had superb images and narratives in their head. They just couldn’t get them out properly.
Most people who cook take a practical approach: watching to see when a sauce thickens up, when bread rises perfectly and how long it takes to scramble eggs. We learn by trial and error, from each other and from recipe books. But how many of us know what is really going on when we cook, in scientific terms? Some famous chefs, most notably Ferrán Adria of top restaurant El Bulli and Heston Blumenthal, have taken a scientific approach to cooking, turning the kitchen into a laboratory and producing some novel and astonishing results.