Relaxing At The V&A


I took this photo at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London a couple of weeks ago. For those who might recognise the room, it is the one just off to the right beyond the cloakroom and the circular Information desk.

Is it really someone lying down? Or is it perhaps a lifelike sculpture?

If you click the photo to see a larger version, you will see that there are more cushions dotted about the room. When one came free, I sat down and relaxed.

It was a great experience. I felt that I wasn’t being propelled along in the way that I feel when standing and looking at art. Instead, I felt like I owned the place.

Of course, when I am standing and I see something that hits me, I stop, and look, and stand back, and stand forward, and reflect, and think, and shiver, and feel rewarded and at one with the universe – or a bit of it.

But lying down is a whole other experience.

I was so pleased and – grateful, really – that afterward I went to the information desk to congratulate the museum on doing this. The staff there said that in that case I should fill out a feedback form.

And I got a reply from Zoe Price at the V&A who said that she was delighted that lying down

“…helped to establish a feeling of Ownership for you which is so in line with the ethos of the exhibition.”

and she gave me the link for some upcoming events in the All Of This Belongs To You exhibition.

What we have lost with the murder of Sabeen Mahmud

Originally posted on South of West:


It is four years since I met Sabeen Mahmud. Salman Taseer had been shot dead in Islamabad for his stance on blasphemy and The Sunday Telegraph wanted a piece on Pakistan’s small band of liberal activists. I had heard of a place called The Second Floor (T2F) in Karachi. It sounded like it would fit the bill.

I arranged to meet Sana Saleem, a blogger and activist, there. And she introduced me to the small band of writers and campaigners – on everything from the environment to gay rights – who used the coffeeshop as their second home. (Haven of sense – a post I wrote at the time.)

It felt like it stood in the glorious line of radical coffeehouses extending back to the Enlightenment. The sort of place where a novelist and a comedian used a backroom as a work space. You never knew who you might meet.

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It Came From Planet Gherkin


This is the Gherkin building in the City of London, overshadowing one of the many churches in the area.

For those not familiar with the ‘City’, it is a small area within London that encompasses the financial district.


Photographed with a Fuji X100s