Writer, opinionista, essayist, perfumista, picker-up of unconsidered trifles, contributor to all sorts and conditions of publication from the Daily Mail to New Humanist, devoté of Pliny Maior, author of The Chronicles of Bargepole, Big Babies and Lost Worlds, currently working with the great Mike Stoller (of Leiber & Stoller) on a musical about Oscar Wilde. Teach the occasional spot of Tragedy to keep my eye in. Pilot, harpsichordist, cook, photographer, red-hot lover  and self-deluding old goat.

This form does not yet contain any fields.



    Apple to Stopify Spotify?

    Apple makes me increasingly nervous with its desire to control everything we do on our computers.

    Latest thing: if you get an app for your iPhone or iPod Touch from the App Store  then the manufacturers will have to provide subscription from within the app.  And Apple will take 30%.

    Boring business stuff? Yes and no.

    Take Spotify.  It's been the most transformative thing on my MacBook (and my iPhone) since the web itself. For a tenner a month I get unlimited streamed music.  Right now it's the Poulenc Concerto for Two Pianos.  This morning it was Jordi Savall's indescribably strange and wonderful El Cant de la Sibil-La.  I have John Eliot Gardiner's Bach Pilgrimage -- all the cantatas -- in a playlist and I'm working through them.  At current prices, that tenner a month would get me two or possibly three CDs of the set in a year. I'd be dead by the time I'd paid for the whole lot -- if I could find them for sale.

    Not with Spotify.

    I signed up at their website, and only later downloaded the iPhone app. But if Apple has its way, that will no longer work, as is my understanding. I'll have to download the Spotify app and subscribe via Apple. The 30% cut that Apple demands will quite likely be the difference between Spotify thriving and going under. Margins are tight.

    I never thought I'd see Apple become one of the bad guys. I never thought when -- must have been 1984 -- I had lunch with Steve Jobs in the Red Fort in Soho that his company would start to Just Not Get It.

    Lord, was I naïve.

    Two things.

    First, if you want to subscribe to Spotify (and, believe me, you do, whatever the music you like) do it before June 30th via Spotify's website. Think of it as a line in the sand.

    Second, if Apple goes ahead with this greedy and shortsighted plan, my iPhone is going in the bin. I'll buy an Android or something. And if their greed shuts down Spotify then I'll never go near another Apple product or service again.

    Big deal. Bet they're quaking in their boots. But... well, "I'm Spartacus", y'know. We all say "enough" then enough it is. But we won't, of course.


    Two Things Google Should Do

    (1) A button saying "do not return any churned-out moronic 'content' generated by Demand Media, Purveyors of Stupidity to the Tubes".

    (2) A button saying "Exclude anything from an aggregator or a price comparison site."

    Because between them, they're making the net useless.



    Delighted to say that I won the 2010 Jasmine Literary Award for writing about perfume (or fragrance, or scent, or as one girlfriend called it -- the relationship didn't last -- "expensive frivolity").  The prize is sponsored by the Fragrance Foundation and was for this piece in The Independent.

    Having been captivated by perfumes since my first trip to Grasse when I was 6 or 7, I am absurdly chuffed.



    A Boots spokeswoman is quoted  as saying that, far from its being a tax avoidance move,

    Boots . . . established itself in Switzerland to 'better reflect the increasingly international nature of our wider group'.

    There you are: now you know how stupid Boots thinks you are.


    Safety Is Our Only Concern

    Tate Modern. Sunflower seeds. Tiny bit of lead in the process, way below industrial safety limits.  BBC arts editor Will Gompertz quoted as saying

     the latest revelation will raise more questions about possible health risks, and whether the Tate carried out enough safety checks.

    Oh come on, Gompertz; you're meant to be an arts editor; don't you realise that you can NEVER carry out enough safety checks? NEVER.