I spent the summer I turned twelve doing four things: reading, keeping a journal of every book I read and film I saw, practicing my violin, and mowing the lawn while belting show tunes (secretly dreaming I’d be discovered by a talent agent over the drone of the mower). The summer I turned twelve I … Continue reading

All the news that’s fit to click: News in the Age of the Internet

This morning as I buttered toast, my mind flitted to the Huffington Post. Or rather, the day it launched. I remember the day it launched in 2005. I remember writing about it for a now-defunct blog. I remember discussing it with my nerdy grad school friends who went on to become journalists and Google execs. … Continue reading

Lost in the graveyard

I will look fondly back at many things about Edinburgh; but I am certain I will miss her graveyards something fierce. There is something old and worldly about the cemeteries here. They are often ragged, with more stones lying down than standing erect. They crumble and fade in a way that’s romantic and sad; like … Continue reading


As Scotland debates its independence, everyone and their mother is chiming in.  A staggering array of eloquence, passion, and style whirl in amongst predictable bouts of petty, political jostling and stereotyping. I continue to debate my place here, too, though for unrelated related reasons. These Edinburgh days are numbered, and nostalgia and excitement vie for … Continue reading

Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference at the Edinburgh International Book Festival

Yesterday over breakfast canapes and clinking glasses the Edinburgh International Book Festival launched the 2012 programme. One of the highlights of the city’s summer festivals, a gamut of writers, thinkers and philosophers descend on Charlotte Square for almost three weeks of creativity and debate. This year’s line-up echoes the now-standard festival motifs: best-selling writers, big … Continue reading

Scotland’s National Portrait Gallery, reimagined

  I once briefly mentioned the deliciously anticipated reopening of the National Portrait Gallery, part of the National Galleries of Scotland. It’s been open six months and every time I’ve been in, the physical changes reinforce a new, surprising space in which a National institution supports a public engagement with art. The traditional tenements of … Continue reading

National Library of Scotland’s Conservation Workshop

I spent this afternoon in the bowels of the National Library of Scotland. While deliciously labyrinthine, I was glad to have a guide. I think I was nine floors below street level before I saw a window. In among the nation’s treasured King James Bible and the First Folio of Shakespeare, I was observing in … Continue reading

Gertrude Bell

I was in the library the other day. I found myself wandering aimlessly among history, politics and travel sections partly in research mode, but also craving a little inspiration. And in my meandering I discovered Gertrude Bell, an enigmatic and wandering adventuress. A contemporary of TE Lawrence (as in ‘of Arabia’) she is, by turns, … Continue reading

Shelley in Edinburgh

I live in a city built on books. It comes with many glorious perks. But how did I only find out today, exactly 7 years and 3 months after I arrived, that Percy Bysshe Shelly shacked up with an under-age minor [with whom he was eloping], a certain Harriet Westbrooke, in a flat on George … Continue reading