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Latest blogs

Letter from Moscow: Putin for Tsar

The Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi has been awarded the 2014 Winter Olympics and President Vladimir Putin will cash in the lions share of credit for the surprise victory.

At home Putin is widely seen as a strong ruler who restored stability after a decade of chaos ensuing the collapse of the Soviet Union. He has been presiding over a booming economy for seven years, wages are rising and life is improving for many in urban centres.

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Animals of the UK - 2. The cats of the flats

There's an old cobbled block of flats in Stoke Newington and although no more than 200 people can live there at most, there are 12 cats. Most of whom never leave the area of the flats, so they act as if they own it.

Which they sort of do. There's a complicated society of these cats, complete with social hierarchy and insecurity. They have replicated human society but, being cats, their society is even more neurotic. It's a salutary lesson to us all - if it all goes to the cleaners then, like in Doctor Who this series, we may end up cannibalising ourselves and turn into these cats.

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Letter from Moscow: The history of Russian cinema locked up in the basement

As Moscow hosts the 29th International Film Festival with Soviet-style patriotic pomp, Russia’s acclaimed Cinema Museum remains confined to a metal locker in the basement of the Central House of Artists.

'Musei Kino' is written in jagged hand-written letters on its doors, behind which administrative essentials of the country's only institute devoted to the long history of cinema in the Soviet Union and Russia are stored.

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Art school checklist update

There were a few things I forgot to mention on my Art-school checklist.

1. TV monitors suspended from ceiling or placed in obscure position, displaying very boring views (quite often the sea on a bad day, or industrial landscape.)

2. Installation with an obviously anti-capitalist/American message, using dollar-bills to form a) A hole or b) A crucifix. The piece in question has won "The .......... prize for innovative thinking, and has thus been awarded a cash prize of £1000."

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MA/BA Art school checklist.

This works like bird spotting. I have compiled a check-list of works I expect to see whilst wondering through any art-school BA or MA show in London.

1. Photography:
(a) Depressing industrial landscape.
(b) Up-close portraits of people with no make-up on looking very serious. Usually 6ft high and back-lit.
(c) Photographs of trans-gender or androgynous people (ooh...is that a boy or a girl?)

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Animals of the UK - Bayleaf the donkey

Hello. I'm going to try and introduce to you some of the animals of the UK that I encounter. You can call me twee, but I don't really give a fuck. Because one of the only times I feel truly calm is when amongst the natural world and non-humans.

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When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro

The White Rabbit is a fictional character in Lewis Carroll's book Alice in Wonderland. He appears at the very beginning of the book, in chapter one, wearing a waistcoat, and muttering "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!" Alice follows him down the rabbit hole into Wonderland. The Rabbit shows up again in the last two chapters, as a herald-like servant of the King and Queen of Hearts.

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We've gone on holiday by mistake

... and some other quotes from rather a good film. If you can name it, I'll buy you a drink. Just one, mind you.

• We want the finest wines available to humanity, we want them here, and we want them now.

• I feel like a pig shat in my head.

• I must have some booze. I demand to have some booze.

• I want something's flesh.

• Don't threaten me with a dead fish.

• I'm going to pull your head off, because I don't like your head.

• I have a heart condition. If you hit me, it's murder.

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Macavity - The Mystery Cat

a poem by T S Eliot

Macavity's a Mystery Cat: he's called the Hidden Paw -
For he's the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He's the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad's despair:
For when they reach the scene of crime - Macavity's not there!

Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
He's broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity.
His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare,
And when you reach the scene of crime - Macavity's not there!
You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air -

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