George The Poet just won several British Podcast of the Year plaudits and deservedly so. “Everything you know is a story”, he explains in episode one of ‘Have you heard George’s podcast?’, “like how when I was at school Pluto was a planet”. The main story-tellers of his community – young, black, poor and urban – are rappers. Collectively they now provide the content for a multi-billion pound global enterprise and yet, he laments, their stories of poverty, violence and exclusion aren’t much different from those told by N.W.A. back when George was growing up. Why?
“What am I doing in Dubai?”, asks Aldous Harding at the start of ‘Zoo Eyes’, the third track on her third album, ‘Designer’. It would be a good question for almost anyone, but seems particularly pertinent for a New Zeland born avant-garde singer-songwriter. We never find out the answer, it being Harding’s practice to sing in riddles (a latter section of the song goes something like “I drove my inner child to a show / We talked all the way home / In the nectar”). But if that’s a problem then it is the only one with this perfectly wonderful, constantly inventive, total ear-worm of a record.
I was briefly into performing magic as a kid, inspired by Paul Daniels on the telly if truth be told. A visit to the Wellcome Collection’s fascinating new exhibition, ‘Smoke and Mirrors – The Psychology of Magic’, has re-ignited my interest and reminded me just how malleable the human mind can be.
Los Angeles’ Green New Deal, which I was privileged to join Mayor Garcetti in launching this week, provides a template for a new era of climate leadership. being of Angelenos. It is a strategy to take forward the whole of society and thus moves climate change from a peripheral issue to the central organising principle of government.