Through a looking glass

This week I started reading Elizabeth Jane Howard's The Long View. I am in awe of it already - a deep, gorgeously written, beautifully uncomfortable and smart exploration of a dysfunctional long-term relationship. At the start, the protagonist is 43 and feels irretrievably old; as the book goes on, time moves backwards, so we find she felt old at 37; and that's as far as I've got so far. She is as beautiful and discomforting as the book.  At 43, she has a daughter aged 19 and a son aged 25 or so, on the brink of marriage. As a just-turned-40 myself, I read this and imagine myself meeting a future son- or daughter-in-law, although our kids are still just into secondary school. I often feel barely out of being teenage myself, but I have become increasingly aware that, of course, the world doesn't see me like that. I'm not sure that the term 'matron' feels very 2021, but that's how I'm seen, most of the time. I have kids, some middle-aged spread, no-non

Should I start again?

So, it's been a long time. 13 year, two children, many projects, one pandemic (ongoing). But on and off, over the last year, I've been thinking how much I miss the regular practice of blogging - of writing, pretty much unedited, about what interests, preoccupied, frustrates or pleases me on a more-or-less daily basis. Plus, I have to say, I am needled (in a good way) by my great friends  Ben  and  Anoushka  who are brilliant bloggers, plus the new-ish fashion for weeknotes and Medium, but as I've got far more old school blog domains registered than I should, I thought I'd see what happens if I resurrect writing here. I have started to re-read my old blogposts here too, in case there are things that have aged as badly as a cricketer's tweets. So far I have decided to leave them as they are, but I haven't read them all, so if you find something that excruciating, or worse, please forgive. Blog mark 2, here goes...

New company, new website, new blog

It's been a while - but I'm hoping that for those of you who haven't trashed me from your RSS feeder, this will pop up as a little surprise. I've been busy - new house, new baby, and a new practice, HAT Projects , set up from our studio here in Essex and currently working on lots of fun stuff, including the feasibility study for a new art gallery in Hastings. All of which means a new blog, which can be found here , so I hope you'll all migrate over and have a look, and sign up to a new feed!

Studio swallows

Studio swallows Originally uploaded by hanaloftus The swallows have flying lessons and fluff themselves on the wire outside the studio window where I work. Distractingly lovely creatures.

Indian handwritten newspaper

I thought this story was fascinating and strangely emotional. A team of Urdu calligraphers turn out a daily newspaper in Chennai that is first hand-written, then transferred to printing plates. It has a circulation of 20,000 and a staff of six, led by a 76-year-old editor whose son thinks it is all far too old-fashioned - "I understand Urdu, but have no interest in calligraphy." "In the meantime, the office is a center for the South Indian Muslim community and hosts a stream of renowned poets, religious leaders and royalty who contribute to the pages, or just hang out, drink chai and recite their most recent works to the staff. The Musalman publishes Urdu poetry and messages on devotion to God and communal harmony daily." There is something in this story about how newspapers perhaps should be - not just the endless churning out of barely re-written press releases but something more passionate and personal. It is perhaps how I imagine the offices of our earliest

The other side of the Dongtan 'exemplar'

I thought this was a good piece of true BBC reporting, exploring whether all is as rosy as it seems in the creation of the 'exemplar ecocity' at Dongtan. None of it surprises me - that it will probably become a "suburb for the rich", that it is being accompanied by potentially disastrous development of shipyards and power plants nearby. But I have been surprised that the building and development press have so far been so blinkered as to the reality of what modern China means for projects like this. There is the kind of wishfulness (exemplified by much of what Norman Foster says) for the speed and decisiveness of a totalitarian government in making 'big things happen' - architects and developers appear to long for European systems to work so smoothly. But they seem willing to disregard the trophy nature of these projects; the lack of a strong environmental policy from China in any strategic way; the social consequences of mass relocation of people, moulding of

Crap Calculator

DEFRA have launched their new online carbon calculator, as David Miliband proudly announced on his blog. I'll give you the link in a second, but don't all rush - because this has got to be a prime example of how not to design a user-friendly online tool. Think irritating flash popup that does that thing where it fills your entire screen. Then takes several minutes to load due to the volume of gratuitous animation. Then every time you fill in a question, takes ages to move onto the next one, and even more time when you finish a 'section'. And an html version that runs even more slowly, if that is possible. When all you need is a series of simple questions in html, with almost no graphics, running on a nice fast server so that you don't get so irritated that you stop bothering half way through and never do find out quite how much you are damaging the environment. I applaud the idea behind a good online calculator (this one includes a postcode function), but guys - th