Klaatu barada nikto!*

Robby the RobotAs a kid I loved robots and would never be disappointed to receive one as a birthday gift.

The public’s first encounter with a fictional robot was probably in the amazing 1927 German classic Metropolis, with its pioneering special effects and production design.

Much later, kids in the UK hid behind sofas as Dr Who brought us the menacing Daleks and (to my mind) the even scarier Cybermen.

The classic movie Forbidden Planet (and later shows like Lost in Space) introduced us to amazing automatons like Robby – a loyal robotic companion that did useful stuff, like defending you from scary monsters, or manufacturing vast quantities of booze on demand. What’s not to love?

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The Earth is not round*

Black catBeliefs are a funny thing. I once believed, like many others, that a black cat crossing your path was bad luck. Of course I was rather biased, because of the unfortunate Panther attack. Nowadays I am older, wiser, and stay out of the big cat enclosure at the zoo.

Growing up I can recall Gypsy women in the street selling ‘lucky Heather’ (although Heather didn’t seem to feel it was so lucky, based on her expression) and some kids in my class had ‘lucky’ rabbit’s-foot keyrings – yuck.

Sports people are notoriously superstitious and many players and fans apparently wear the same ‘lucky’ socks, shirts or underpants to a match, imagining that this somehow mysteriously influences the outcome.
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Can you hear me Major Tom?

David BowieIt’s been few days since the announcement of the death of a hero – David Robert Jones, better known to the world as rock icon David Bowie. It came as quite a shock, since he was by all accounts a very private person, keeping the news of his illness a closely guarded secret.

It was perhaps all the more surprising in the light of his recent resurgence with the well-received album The Next Day in 2013, and Blackstar, a brand new album release to kick off 2016 in style.

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Dream on

ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLANDSo here we are then, a brand spanking-new year, three hundred and sixty five days (or thereabouts) to make all our dreams come true. Just like we did last year…

It being January, it’s customary for everyone to either dutifully make plans and resolutions for a better, brighter future, or adopt the role of the rebel / iconoclast / misanthrope and say, ‘To hell with that! Pass the tequila!’

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams, wrote William Butler Yeats. Sage advice, one should always beware of treading on dreams, especially the ones featuring cacti or hedgehogs. I personally always wear dream slippers, just in case. They are extremely fluffy, like clouds. In fact I think they are clouds, which probably explains the floating and the mysterious indoor downpours.
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Happy new year?

PopeyeOnce again It’s that time when folks everywhere gather together to celebrate the start of a new year with alcohol and explosives, the perfect match.

There are many strange and interesting customs, traditions and superstitions associated with this event. Some don lucky underwear to see in the new year (South America) others dress up as bears (Romania) or throw their old household items out of the window to make room for new stuff (Parts of Italy and South Africa).

In Denmark folks dutifully listen to the Queen’s speech on TV, then later watch an old black and white comedy skit from the UK – Dinner for one. This ancient piece of booze-related slapstick features just two characters – a posh lady and her butler – and shows that the Danes and indeed others in parts of Scandinavia and Germany, love nothing more that the collision of upper class formality and extreme drunkenness.
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