I’ve just returned home from a two-week course in Estonian at the University of Tartu. During my stay I celebrated the beauty of the town in a photo-blog, and ideas for further blogs (such as “Why Estonian?”) are gestating. But I have an immediate urge to capture my impressions of starting to learn Estonian, as … More A new kind of wine: my first taste of Estonian
Last night I discovered what happens when you combine Graves’ disease with hay fever. The results weren’t pretty, and I rather wished I hadn’t looked in the mirror at around 10pm. The offending eye is now back where it belongs, leaving me with something akin to a hangover. But the experience was a reminder of … More Delving into Graves’
Three stories on tax and multinationals hit the press last week. They attracted varying levels of attention – from BBC news headlines to erudite debates on the tax Twittersphere – and were of varying degrees of importance. As usual there was, if anything, an inverse correlation between their importance and the noise they generated. But … More Three stories on tax and multinationals: are we losing our collective memory?
6 years ago, in October 2011, Ellie Knott took me to Transylvania. We had been travelling to Europe together for years: from Disneyland Paris, through the red-light districts of Lyons, Cologne and Berlin (“mother, don’t stand on the street corner”), to cocktail bars in Madrid, Krakow and Aix (where “Madame et Mademoiselle” became “Mesdames” around … More Where the rooves have eyes: 2 days in Sibiu
The Supreme Court delivered an outstanding judgement on 19 October in R (on the application of Ingenious Media Holdings plc and another) v Commissioners for HM Revenue & Customs. The case related to an interview given on 14 June 2012 by the Permanent Secretary for Tax in HMRC, Mr David Hartnett, to two financial journalists … More The Supreme Court: confidentiality matters
I auditioned for a choir today. The last time I subjected myself to such an ordeal was in 1978, on arriving at university, so I wasn’t entirely comfortable at the prospect – involving singing scales, a pre-prepared extract from the Bach piece in the choir repertoire for this term, and some sight-reading and aural tests. … More A question of identity in a Bach chorale
The first time I learnt a fugue was around 40 years ago: the obligatory Bach, BWV 854, for my grade 8 piano exam. It’s not something I look back on with affection (as opposed, say, to learning German irregular verbs, which I enjoyed so much I did a PhD on them) and I hadn’t rushed … More Learning a fugue – aged 56¾
This is the second vote on Britain’s membership of Europe in my lifetime (and yes I know the Leave brigade will quibble that this isn’t about “Europe” the continent but the EEC/EU but the tenor of the debate shows it’s about something much deeper than that). I can’t pretend to recall the eve of the … More Referendum Eve