Many parts of the country are discovering that their local authority is planning to close a large number of public libraries. Not surprisingly, people are very angry about this, and many local groups have been set up to protest.
In Oxfordshire twenty out of forty-three libraries are set for closure. I think thats outrageous. On Thursday 20 January a large meeting in Oxford Town Hall listened to many people who spoke against the planned closures. Here is a link to what I said about the matter: Download Oxfordshire Libraries (.pdf format, 82KB)
The website False Economy is a good source of news and opinion on this subject: http://falseeconomy.org.uk/
Manets A Bar at the Folies-Bergre
In November 2008 I gave a talk at the Courtauld Gallery in London. It was part of a series organised by Ruth Padel in which writers talked about paintings they liked. This is what I said about Edouard Manets great painting, which you can see here.
Download A Bar at the Folies-Bergre (.pdf format, 83KB)
Fairy tales and evidence
In 2008, as part of the Liverpool European Capital of Culture year, Liverpool University organised a literary festival at which I was invited to speak. At the time Richard Dawkins was in the news because of an answer he gave in an interview about childrens stories and science. I thought it would be interesting to think about the way we actually respond to stories, and what evidence we could expect to find in support of what we say about it.
Download Fairy tales and evidence (.pdf format, 129KB)
The origin of the universe
In 2006 Stephen Hawking gave a lecture in Oxford about the origin of the universe, and the various theories that had been put forward to account for it. I was asked to respond, and this is what I said.
Download ‘The origin of the universe‘ (.pdf format, 60KB)