Departure lounge ramblings on music, places, climate change and stuff outdoors

Stargazing in Hollywood

I have long intended to start a blog site dedicated to reviews of planetariums and observatories. It would have been even more niche than markontour’s usual output, so perhaps it’s just as well it never happened. But if I were to start such a stargazers blog, the Griffith Observatory and park in Los Angeles, which I visited this weekend, would have to be the first entry.

The Black Pumas

It has always been a markontour rule that while it is clearly wrong to assess a person by their looks, and generally an error to judge a book by its cover, it is completely acceptable to buy music on the basis of the album artwork alone. It is an approach that has stood me in good stead from London Calling to the Stone Roses, and is thoroughly vindicated in the case of the Black Pumas.

Gazing on the cosmic plughole

I wonder if Brandon Yoshizawa knew that the exhaust plume of a Falcon 9 rocket would take on the shape of a flower as its hot discharge made contact with colder air of the upper atmosphere? He was certainly in the right place at the right time and with the requisite skill to capture an extraordinary image. The result, Flower Power, is a perfect example of the blend of art and science that makes the annual Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Greenwich National Maritime Museum so special. 

The Festive Fifteen 2019

December is here, which means it is time for the annual markontour Festive Fifteen.  As usual, there’s nothing to do with Xmas here, and there has been so much great music this year that I have yet again failed to whittle my list down to fifteen tracks. But, caveats aside, herewith The Festive Fifteen of 2019..

The real deal – Labour’s manifesto for a thriving green future

I have spent my Sunday afternoon re-reading Labour’s election manifesto. Not because I have to – it’s been quite a few years now since I worked on an election campaign – but because it’s just bloody brilliant. Most inspiring of all is simply that Labour has listened to the clarion call that we are in a climate emergency, looked seriously at the science-based targets that need to be achieved to avert climate breakdown, and then actually committed to a set of actions that will deliver them, with most of the toughest stuff pledged to happen in the first term of a Labour government, not vaguely promised for the long-distant future.

London’s still calling forty years on

In a vital and captivating free new exhibition the Museum of London is celebrating forty-years since the release of London Calling by The Clash. It’s an album that is both precisely of its time and yet timeless, a spirit that the curators (working with the surviving members of the band) have managed to capture perfectly. Markontour has visited twice already in its first week and I’m sure I will be back a few more times before it closes in April.